President-elect candidate Steve Davis’ platform statement
Leading The Florida Bar requires passion, dedication, and effort. Today it also requires adaptability as our world and the profession have been forever changed. In seeking to lead our Bar, I thank you for considering my vision of where The Florida Bar should devote its resources as we move into 2022. COVID-19 presented many challenges that have been overcome. The Florida Bar has a great opportunity to help all Florida lawyers. I am positive our Bar will be stronger and better as we take advantage of the experience of dealing with the pandemic to serve our members. Our future is bright!
MY VISION FOR THE FLORIDA BAR
• PROTECTING JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE
I will be a relentless advocate for the judicial branch, which must have the resources to serve Floridians. The Bar’s core mission will always protect the independence of the judicial branch. The COVID-19 world will require more emphasis on expanding the funding of technology to help the courts serve the public. The Bar must do all it can to make sure the judicial branch has sufficient funding for filings, archiving, data management, and courtroom resources. This also means working to update court rules as we take advantage of technology to advance our cases while preserving the rights of all litigants.
• INCLUSION FOR ALL FLORIDA LAWYERS
Inclusion for all lawyers in our profession must be a guiding principal of how we operate. Florida Bar Diversity and Inclusion initiatives have accomplished much, but we must relentlessly pursue equal opportunities for all. I pledge to make sure that ALL lawyers have a vital and recognized role in our profession. This means there must be equality without regard to gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. We must ensure that government attorneys, solo and small-practice attorneys, practitioners in rural areas, public sector attorneys, and young lawyers have a meaningful voice in all aspects of Bar governance, committees, and section leadership. We will use technology to increase opportunities for participation so our diverse Bar must be inclusive of all our members. The JNCs must be diverse so that our bench is filled with judges of top intellect, excellent character, and which reflects the diversity of our state. That will be a priority of mine in leading our Bar.
Professionalism defines us as lawyers. We must aspire for Florida lawyers to practice at the highest levels. Unfortunately, most of the lawyers and judges in this state have experienced unprofessional conduct. While our discipline system reacts to complaints about misconduct, we should look for more ways to eliminate this behavior. We should explore Proactive Management Based Regulation (PMBR) which is a recent program coming from the ABA. Two states currently have versions of the program which helps lawyers in their practices before they commit unprofessional acts. The Bar expends over half of our annual budget on lawyer regulation, and we must devote more resources to improve professionalism within the Bar.
• MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Part of improving professionalism is continuing to expand the Bar’s health and wellness programs for members. The demands on lawyers are extensive and the virtual world has only increased stress. Our members face many challenges with non-stop professional demands that lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental-health disorders. The Bar will continue to look for ways to support our members to address quality-of-life issues. PMBR is an affirmative step to make sure we do not just wait to react to misconduct. The Bar has numerous professionalism resources that we will continue to improve to advance the quality of practice in Florida.
• PROVIDING FLORIDA LAWYERS THE PRACTICE RESOURCES THEY NEED – CONTINUED EPXANSION OF MEMBER BENEFITS
COVID-19 has forced us all to rely on technology to allow us to continue to move our clients’ needs and cases forward. The Bar has the ability and will devote resources to make sure that we inform our lawyers about the latest enhancements to streamline the practice of law and the administration of justice. In the post COVID-19 world, the Bar needs to be a leader in making sure technological advances are provided to our members. Remote work will be the new normal, and the Bar must support our lawyers to ensure success in the virtual world. The Bar will continue to expand Member Benefits to accommodate the changing needs of our lawyers.
• BENEFITS OF A UNIFIED BAR
Since 1950, The Florida Bar has been a mandatory Bar, meaning we are an agency of the Supreme Court of Florida in the regulation of our members. The Bar greatly benefits us through its administrative structure that enables us to improve our skills and refine our laws through section and committee work, CLE programs, and a legislative program that gives us a unified voice to speak to the other branches of government and the public. The Bar leaders will do all we can to make sure we protect that status.
• ACCESS TO JUSTICE
This past year has seen foreclosure and eviction moratoriums that have reduced the already heavy demand for pro bono and low bono legal work. Once those cases resume, the courts’ and Floridians’ need for lawyers will increase. We must be a leader in making sure all efforts are made to help the numerous legal aid providers in Florida while encouraging Florida lawyers to continue to step up to meet this need.
• PROMOTING FLORIDA LAWYERS
Being a Florida lawyer is a tremendous privilege. Florida lawyers must be allowed to serve clients, and we must protect the independent judgment of lawyers. That means the Bar must safeguard the lawyer ownership of law firms. This issue is being studied by a special committee that is expected to report by July. There are multiple issues that will require the Bar to carefully evaluate how we best serve Florida lawyers.
As Bill Gates said: “Leaders will be those who empower others.”
I look to build off the great talent of Florida lawyers to serve our Bar. Thank you for your consideration.