“When it comes to the legal profession, The Florida Bar stands at a lookout point over the seas of change, watching from an advantageous position for signs of major developments as they roll in. Through vigilance, we can be ready to respond to, and be prepared for, the future.”
John M. Stewart is a partner at Rossway Swan in Vero Beach and a third-generation Florida lawyer.
Since 2007, he has been the representative of the 19th Circuit on The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors, and in June 2019 he was sworn in as President of The Florida Bar.
Stewart serves on The Florida Bar’s Executive Committee and chairs the Bar’s Strategic Planning Committee and the Special Committee on Technology Affecting the Practice of Law. In 2018, he received the Judge Walter S. Crumbly Award presented by The Florida Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Section for his outstanding contributions in the area of Practice Management.
Stewart also served on the Executive Committee of The Florida Bar’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section and on The Florida Bar’s Special Commission on Gender Bias and Diversity in the Profession in 2017.
Stewart was chair of the Technology Subcommittee for The Florida Bar’s three-year study on the future of the practice of law. In 2014, he was appointed by then-Chief Justice Jorge Labarga to serve on the Supreme Court of Florida’s Florida Courts Technology Commission, and he was reappointed to serve an additional three-year term by the chief justice in 2017.
In 2013, Stewart received The Florida Bar President’s Award of Merit.
Stewart was elected to the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division in 1999, and he served as the Young Lawyers Division’s President in the 2006-2007 Bar year.
In 2016, Stewart was selected to the Fastcase 50 honoring the law’s “smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” He speaks regularly on technology and the law, including multiple sessions at the 2016 and 2017 American Bar Association TECHSHOW.
Stewart was also listed in the 2019 edition of Florida Trend Magazine’s Florida 500 as one of Florida’s Most Influential Business Leaders in the category of law.
October Video Message Text
I’m John Stewart, President of The Florida Bar, here in Tallahassee at The Florida Bar headquarters.
Q: Can you describe the proposed Florida judicial parental leave rule? What is the Bar’s position?
I recently had the pleasure of arguing for the Florida Supreme Court on the issue of the parental leave rule. The rule was intended to allow for up to a three-month continuance for anyone subject to parental leave. This rule would promote really three important missions of The Florida Bar: One: Diversity in the profession. Two: Mental health and wellness by allowing lawyers to have some time off during this important period of their life. And three: Protecting the public so that the client can be assured they can have the attorney that they would like. While we recognize, and hearing the court’s questions that the rule is probably not perfect, we think the rule makes progress. Perfection can be the death of progress, and so we’re hoping that we’ll find a way to make progress in this arena.
Q: Can you tell us about the Bar’s proposed new voluntary registration program for online legal service providers?
The Board of Governors recently approved a voluntary registration for online legal service providers. This rule still requires Supreme Court approval. However, the idea behind the rule is to provide some regulation in a generally unregulated area. Largely, these companies are providing forms, so the primary regulation comes in the requirement that these forms either be approved by the Florida Supreme Court or approved by a licensed Florida Bar member in good standing.
Q: What is the Bar’s outlook for the upcoming 2020 Legislative Session?
The legislative session for 2020 is starting early. We’ve already had committee weeks this session. The Florida Bar’s primary mission is to assure the advancement of legal profession and to assure an adequately funded judicial branch of government. We believe that we are in a good place to continue to promote those ideals, and we’re continuing to work with our legislators and with the governor to assure that those goals are accomplished.