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Trial lawyers name Debra Henley new executive director

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The Florida Justice Association’s Board of Directors formally selected Debra Henley as its new executive director.

This selection was made with the concurrence of the FJA’s Executive Committee. After a nationwide search with over 50 applicants, an intensive screening and interview process, Ms. Henley was recommended by the Executive Director Search Committee and FJA’s Executive Committee.

“I am incredibly humbled by this selection,” said Ms. Henley. “The Florida Justice Association is the most effective group in Tallahassee battling to protect the rights of those who seek redress in Florida’s courts. We are often the only line of defense that Florida’s citizens have in the battle to protect consumer safety. It is this dedication, passion, and commitment that truly makes me proud to lead the FJA into the future.”

Ms. Henley has been serving as the association’s Acting Executive Director since October of 2009. Prior to her appointment to this position, Ms. Henley served as FJA’s Deputy Executive Director and Legislative Director for 19 years. Her extensive work history includes serving in staff positions within the Florida Legislature, as a practicing trial attorney, and as a Florida ethics commissioner.

In her service to the Florida Justice Association, Ms. Henley has spearheaded efforts to promote diversity within the FJA, increased our field presence, enhanced  technology and collaborated with FJA leadership in directing the operations of the organization. She has built strong relationships as a lobbyist for the FJA and testified in countless legislative committee meetings on issues ranging from medical malpractice, premises liability, nursing homes, and insurance. Ms. Henley has worked closely with consumer and patient groups during her time at the Florida Jusitce Association, helping protect the rights of Florida’s consumers and the safety of Florida’s patients. She is also a frequent spokesperson on behalf of the FJA to various media outlets on issues that affect Floridians, most notably issues regarding medical malpractice.

“I am confident that Ms. Henley is the right person to lead the Florida Justice Association into a new era,” said FJA President Michael Haggard. “Her vast experience with the core principles of our organization, her knowledge of the Florida Legislature and her passion for achieving justice will be great assets to the FJA. She will bring a fresh approach and better position our organization to take full advantage of the tremendous opportunities that lie ahead.”

Henley has served as the Florida Justice Association’s Deputy Executive Director for almost two decades. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in organizational communications and received her Juris Doctorate with high honors from the Florida State University College of Law.

“Leading the Florida Justice Association is a tremendous opportunity and I will continue to uphold the same guiding principles that have made this association a valuable resource for our members and a force in Tallahassee for nearly fifty years. Together our leadership, members and staff will build upon our mission of protecting Florida’s patients and consumers.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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