The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

We Persevere Until We Reach Calmer Seas

President's Page

Photo of John M. StewartIn my columns so far, I’ve talked about the seas of change that are greatly impacting the legal profession, and the eminent responsibility we have on the Board of Governors to respond effectively. Year after year, the Bar is tasked with charting a steady course to successfully navigate the powerful waves of change that have swept away the past and brought in the future. Technology has been prominent — like a ship’s masthead — at the forefront of our concerns, though that issue does not stand alone.

Florida Bar leaders are elected to serve and evaluate the ever-evolving needs of Florida lawyers. At the request of the chief justice, on behalf of The Florida Supreme Court, we have embarked on a study to review our rules to ensure that our regulations meet the needs of Floridians for legal services while protecting against misconduct and maintaining the strength of the legal profession.

We take seriously the responsibility that comes from being elected representatives of more than 108,000 Bar members, and it is incumbent upon us to share our ideas and thoughts as we move through this process. Likewise, it is critical that we hear from you, our members, as we debate the issues of the day.

I can confidently say as president that we will provide accurate and thorough information so that projects and goals undertaken by the Bar are completely transparent. We want our discussions, decisions, and ideas to be open and available. It’s important that information is provided via The Florida Bar News, the Journal, and the Bar’s website. Bar publications and communications staff are always hard at work keeping members and the public informed. Your feedback is not only welcomed but encouraged, and I believe it will result in a better outcome.

Debating a subject of concern can be a passionate exercise for many lawyers, and the Bar has provided a time and place for voicing opinions — and The Florida Bar will continue to do so. Getting involved in the discussion on a deeper level is a critical part of being a Bar member and a lawyer. To help us achieve the best possible outcome, not only do we need your feedback as a valued member, but that feedback needs to be based upon correct, verified, and accurate information. In other words, be informed and you will be heard.

During my term, we have been given the opportunity to embark on a challenging voyage that will potentially shed light on important issues related to the evolving legal marketplace. But every time we take on new challenges, there are new discoveries. Every project we develop, every question we ask, every discussion we engage in is a learning experience. We regularly encounter newfound results, new debates, new ideas, which provoke new questions. And as lawyers, we are not new to being tested. We are aware of the impact that, at times, serious debate can have on us, although the concepts often can be quite difficult to grasp.

Nobody expects that this voyage across the vast oceans of change will be easy. Learning can be difficult. Looking into the depths of an issue and striving for revelations can be trying. The ocean is dark and mysterious. But we do not abandon ship or drop anchor. We keep making progress.

Everyone has a voice within the Bar. Everyone can make a difference and contribute to the discussion when the time has been taken to educate oneself on the issues. We have proven time and again as an organization that professional dialogue is necessary to everything we do.

Let’s keep the dialogue going. Let’s keep talking about the pros and cons. Let’s stay on top of what’s changing in the practice of law so we can overcome, together, the obstacles we will face along the way with the knowledge and strength necessary to ensure the future of Florida lawyers is secure, that our core values and traditions remain intact, and that the public is protected and served.

With the wind behind our backs, the seas will not always be calm. There will be some fear, disagreements, strong emotions, but through it all, The Florida Bar will remain steady and thoughtful. The Florida Bar will stay the course. At the end of the journey, whatever recommendations are collected will be shared with membership. Despite rocky or rough weather, it’s our job to persevere until we reach calmer seas. Some of the learning process will be painful. Issues will arise that will cause us some concern. We will confidently navigate through these unchartered waters and with your meaningful participation along the way, we will successfully complete our voyage to the betterment of our most valued and beloved profession.