In Memoriam: L. David Shear
L. David Shear, 1979-80 president of The Florida Bar, died April 26 in Tampa, where he had lived all his life.
David was president during a pivotal time in the Bar’s history when two major issues were faced: a constitutional amendment modifying the Florida Supreme Court’s jurisdiction and a House of Representatives subcommittee review of whether The Florida Bar should be placed under the aegis of the legislative and executive branches of government. He spent many hours attending public hearings to respond to the inquiry, “Why is the legal profession different, and why should it remain under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Florida as a separate, autonomous and self-governing profession?”
As the 1980s began, your Florida Bar Journal looked into the future of the legal profession, inviting practitioners, educators, judges, and others to predict how the profession would change or remain the same. The last voice in this special Bar Journal issue belonged to President Shear who said, “As a practitioner, a myriad of images rush before me as I look into the future of the lawyer of tomorrow….We shall retain our autonomy and independence as professionals. This is, perhaps, the greatest need and gift that can be bestowed upon us; for without this fierce sense of self-determination, we could not represent our clients as adversaries, nor structure our system of justice.” The Select Subcommittee on the Legal Profession in early June 1980 proposed no legislation to remove control of the legal profession from the Supreme Court.
Wisely, he predicted computerized transcripts, records, and briefs, along with televised and telephonic court hearings.
I was present to hear Chief Justice Arthur J. England, Jr., dedicate his June 1980 annual convention State of the Judiciary address to President L. David Shear for his leadership in initiating several much needed programs, including a trial cost and delay study, a study of court facilities, and a week-long “free legal checkup” open to all Floridians.
Regarding the legislative inquiry over the admission and the discipline of Florida attorneys, England said, “Dave Shear took the worst of situations and turned it into the best of times. He is truly to be congratulated.”
During David’s term, The Florida Bar received the ABA Award of Merit as the top large state bar association in the nation, and he headed the Interest on Lawyer’s Trust Accounts Implementation Commission, which created the first IOLTA program in the country.
David loved his hometown of Tampa and devoted himself to local civic and religious entities. He was chair of the Bay Area Legal
Services Development Council, and in recognition of his service, the L. David Shear Children’s Law Center was created. He was president of Rodeph Sholom Synagogue, president and chair of the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa Bay, and a member of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100 to name only a few of many organizations and boards that benefited from his leadership.
After graduation from the University of Florida College of Law, he went into private practice and was a founder of Shear, Newman, Hahn & Rosenkranz, P.A. Later, he joined Ruden, McClosky and Gunster, where he represented clients in corporate, real estate, banking, business planning, commercial, and investment interests until his death.
My becoming executive director of The Florida Bar coincided with David’s term and I can attest to his ardent voice for The Florida Bar, to his being a gentleman, and to his enthusiasm on the tennis court. My sincere condolences go to his family, in particular his wife, Casey, and sons, Jeffrey and Stephen.
Thank you “Young David” for all the guidance and friendship throughout these years.