News - October 1, 2019

Joanne M. O’Connor’s 2020 Vision Leads the Federal Bar Association PBCC

Jones Foster is pleased to announce that Litigation Shareholder, Joanne O’Connor, has been appointed as President of the Federal Bar Association Palm Beach County Chapter for a one-year term. Previously Joanne served as the President-Elect, Secretary, and Treasurer of the Chapter.

As President, Joanne will support the Association’s mission to strengthen the federal legal system and administration of justice by serving the interests and the needs of the federal practitioner, both public and private, and the federal judiciary and the public they serve. The Federal Bar Palm Beach County Chapter promotes the interests of all federal court practitioners, including volunteerism in our local community. With over 100 members from the judiciary, federal government, and private practice, the Chapter hosts monthly luncheons, an annual judicial reception, nationally recognized civic outreach events, and various other programs throughout the year.

Joanne O’Connor is a member of Jones Foster’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice group. She is a Florida Bar Board Certified specialist in Business Litigation and focuses her practice in the areas of complex commercial litigation including business torts, real estate disputes, and lawyer and law firm defense. Joanne has litigated a broad range of matters from arbitration and trials through appeals and has niche experience successfully defending national and regional law firms against legal malpractice claims.

In the following Q&A, Joanne shares her personal journey and professional goals for the Chapter.

How did your legal career lead you to this role?

Following graduation from law school, I began my legal career clerking for federal District Court Judge Sarah Vance in the Eastern District of Louisiana. That experience has been one of the highlights of my 20-year legal career. I not only honed my legal research and writing skills but also learned how to tackle a range of diverse and complex legal issues -- from prisoner habeas corpus petitions to bankruptcy appeals to the validity of the noise ordinances that govern New Orleans’ lively Jackson Square. Equally important was what I learned about being a lawyer by watching Judge Vance; I witnessed the professionalism and fairness she brought to the court through interactions with the lawyers and clients who appeared before her.

After clerking, I began my practice at Jones Foster in 2001. My practice includes representing companies and individuals in business and real estate disputes, and municipalities on constitutional and statutory questions. Since my clerkship, I have always stayed involved with the federal courts both as a practitioner and through the work of the Federal Bar Association. I worked my way up through various leadership positions in the organization before being elected President this year.

What is the importance of the Association to the federal legal community, and why did you want to serve in this role?

Our Chapter is the premier voluntary bar organization for the federal bench and bar in Palm Beach County. We are committed to offering our members meaningful opportunities to get to know the federal judges in the Southern District of Florida, to network with fellow federal practitioners, to engage in continuing legal education opportunities pertinent to their diverse practice areas, and to share their knowledge of the law with our fellow citizens through volunteer opportunities. I have made lifetime professional and personal relationships through my work with the Chapter and look forward to facilitating similar relationships for others through my position as President.

What are your priorities during the 2019-2020 term?

I am focused on fostering strong collaboration with our sister chapters in Broward County and South Florida (Miami-Dade) and other voluntary bar associations here in Palm Beach County. The Southern District of Florida, where we practice, spans from Key West to Vero Beach with courthouses in Fort Pierce, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

I am also intent on promoting diversity and inclusion in our leadership, membership, and events. Further, we will continue to offer our bench and bar the high-level programming that they have come to expect from us. We have already put together an amazing line-up of events including our Annual Judicial Reception, the Court Orientation for lawyers new to federal practice, and marquee luncheons hosted by prominent members of our judiciary. I am particularly pleased to partner with the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association for our first luncheon of the year welcoming one of the Southern District of Florida’s newest District Court Judges, Roy K. Altman.

The Association serves as a representative of the federal legal profession, but how does it serve the public?

Community outreach efforts are central to our mission. Our Chapter has become nationally recognized as leaders in creating and implementing the Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions Program, a civics education program that brings high school and college students into federal courtrooms to observe, learn and practice civil discourse and decision-making skills. In the 2018-2019 school year alone, we worked with our sister chapters in the Southern District of Florida to produce 13 programs at 12 diverse high schools and 2 colleges, touching more than 340 students and involving dozens of our members as volunteers.

The opportunity to share the specialized knowledge of our government, laws and Constitution with students in the community through these programs is a highlight of my work with the Federal Bar Association.

About Jones Foster

Jones Foster is a commercial and private client law firm headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida. Established in 1924, the Firm has served as an integral part of South Florida’s growth and prosperity for nearly a century. Through a relentless pursuit of excellence, Jones Foster delivers original legal solutions that help clients, colleagues, and the community to move forward. The Firm’s attorneys focus their practice in Real Estate, Litigation & Dispute Resolution, Private Client Services, Corporate & Tax, and Land Use & Governmental. For more information, please visit