“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.
December Video Message Text
I am John Stewart, president of The Florida Bar, and this is my December President’s Message.
Q: How have you gone about achieving your priorities for the year?
Well, of course, we’ve been working very hard with the Board of Governors, with our local voluntary bar leaders and our members throughout the state to assure that we’re staying on top of the issues that are important to the lawyers of Florida. These include the changing legal marketplace, technology, mental health and wellness, promoting our CLEs, and making sure that we do the two things that we’re obligated to do and that we do best. And that’s one, protect the public, and serve our members.
Q: What do you see as the most noteworthy successes from your presidency thus far?
Well, thanks to our hard-working Board of Governors and our voluntary bar leaders across the state, we have quite a few successes in the early part of this year. First, on December 12, Chapter 23 was filed, the voluntary registration of online service providers. This is designed both to protect the public when utilizing these services, as well as making it clear for our members when they are able to participate with these programs properly and responsibly under the rules regulating The Florida Bar. Additionally, we recently learned that the Florida Supreme Court approved a version of the parental leave continuance rule, which is a rule that was strongly supported by the Board of Governors. It’s something that we are very excited about that we think promotes diversity in our profession and also promotes general mental health and wellness amongst our members.
Q: What’s next for The Florida Bar?
Well, following on the heels of the filing of the voluntary registration for online service providers, the Florida Supreme Court has directed us to look at the broader legal marketplace, the broader legal landscape, and to address a variety of issues that entails, which will be a primary focus. We’ll be drawing in our voluntary bar leaders to help us with that. We’re also going to continue to focus on diversity, diversity within the leadership of The Florida Bar, and also continue to push for diversity amongst the judicial nominating committees, which is an important role and something that we take great pride in. We’re going to continue to push as we have for years for mental health and wellness initiatives. That continues to be a huge priority of The Florida Bar, and I see it continuing to be a priority of the Florida Bar for years to come including following me with my president-elect, soon to be president, Dori Foster-Morales.
Q: How is the legal profession giving back to the community during the holiday season?
Florida lawyers give all year round. I’ve always said that Florida lawyers are often social workers at heart. And I think especially this time of year, as we get closer to our annual Pro Bono Awards ceremony where we recognize the lawyers who have gone above and beyond their necessary contributions in the areas of pro bono and are recognized for those efforts at the Florida Supreme Court, this year to be held on January 30, we’ll continue to give back both financially and in hours of pro bono dedication. We also recognize our voluntary bars around the state who continually strive to improve their communities through various volunteer projects at all levels, so it’s something that we’ll continue to do, and this time of year is a perfect time to highlight it.
Q: As 2019 comes to a close, what are you grateful for?
Personally, I’m grateful for time spent with family and friends. I’m grateful to be able to lead The Florida Bar during this year. I’m grateful for my hard-working Board of Governors members. I’m grateful for everything that Florida lawyers do for our community, and really grateful that the rule of law still governs and that we’re able to provide for the peaceful life of men and women in a peaceful state during this holiday season.