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Bar president-elect candidates take part in online forum

Senior Editor Top Stories

Voting begins March 1 and all votes must be received prior to midnight, March 22

Steve Davis and Gary LesserFrom the Bar’s role in public advocacy, to online legal service providers and lawyer discipline, the two candidates for Bar president-elect expressed their views in a February 22 virtual forum.

Hosted by President Dori Foster-Morales and moderated by former Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince, the forum featured West Palm Beach attorney Gary Lesser and Miami attorney Steven Davis, both members of the Board of Governors, in a question-and-answer format.

The forum was recorded and can be viewed here.

Lesser touted his 28 years as a Bar member, from his start with a family firm, to his election to the board in 2011, and his service as chair of the Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee and his four years as chair of the Legislation Committee.

“I’ve been working hard for years as part of our team to help protect judicial independence, and an independent legal profession,” he said.

Davis stressed his native Florida roots and described himself as the first in his family to attend college. He touted his service as former president of the Dade County Bar Association, his election to the board in 2012, and his service as chair of various board committees, including his four-year tenure on the Executive Committee.

“Being a lawyer was a dream of mine,” Davis said. “My passion has always remained for our profession. I feel lucky to be an attorney and blessed to be in the leadership positions I have held.”

Justice Quince, who served on the Supreme Court from 1999 until her retirement in 2019, and as chief justice from 2008 to 2010, said the four questions posed to candidates were a distillation of more than a dozen submitted by Bar members.

Each candidate was given two minutes to respond to the questions, while taking turns going first:

  • What long-term effects will online legal service platforms have on our profession and on access to justice?
  • We received several questions about when the Bar speaks on issues and events. When should The Florida Bar engage in public speech or take positions?
  • How can we ensure that the disciplinary system balances protecting the public and preserving members’ due process rights?
  • How would you reach out to engage the newest members of the Bar particularly those affected by pandemic-related challenges?

The candidates were not provided the questions in advance.

Following the candidates’ brief closing remarks, Justice Quince thanked them for participating and for their service “to the entire legal profession.”

“To the attendees, please note that if your questions were not answered, you can speak to either of these candidates directly.”

Foster-Morales thanked Justice Quince and the candidates in her closing remarks.

“I of course want to appeal to all eligible Bar members to vote,” she said. “Voting is a crucial meaningful way to express yourself and support the issues you care about, it gives you the ability to choose who is in office and have a say about what goes on, so please vote.”

Ballots for the election will be emailed or mailed on March 1, and all votes must be received prior to midnight, March 22. The winner who receives the majority of votes will be sworn in as president-elect at the 2021 Annual Convention when current President-elect Michael Tanner is sworn in as president.


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