Zack to chair ABA House of Delegates

first_img March 15, 2004 Managing Editor Regular News Zack to chair ABA House of Delegates Zack to chair ABA House of Delegates Mark D. Killian Managing Editor Miami lawyer Stephen N. Zack has been named chair-elect of the ABA House of Delegates, the second ranking officer in the organization.Other Florida lawyers who will serve in ABA leadership positions include Tampa’s Michael A. Bedke, who will represent District 8, which is composed of Florida and Texas, on the ABA Board of Governors, and Orlando’s Suzanne E. Gilbert, who is the sole nominee to serve as a Young Lawyers Division representative on the ABA board. Steve Zack Zack, who has chaired the ABA Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services and is a past president of The Florida Bar and the National Conference of Bar Presidents, will begin his two-year term a year from now. Many who are elected chair of the House of Delegates go on to serve as ABA president.“I believe that the chair of the house is one of the most interesting positions in the ABA because it is a 540-person unicameral legislature that sets the policy of the legal profession,” said Zack, who has been a member of the House of Delegates for the past 15 years. “I realize how important it is that the house have an opportunity to have the debate it has and am very excited about the opportunity to serve as its chair.”Zack said it was his mentor, the late Chesterfield Smith, who encouraged his participation in the ABA and that the leadership of the house was something to which he should aspire.“I wish he were here to be a part of this,” said Zack, who also has served as special counsel to Florida’s former governor, now U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.“If there is an important issue that the legal profession is involved with, it comes before the house by way of resolutions [from state bars or ABA sections] and then is debated in that forum and if adopted, becomes a policy of the ABA,” Zack said. “Obviously, if the ABA speaks on any issue, it becomes a statement of the legal profession and is highly persuasive both in Congress and among the state and local bar associations.”Zack said it is the House of Delegates that is the voice of the legal profession and the chair of the house is someone who makes sure that the debate that occurs in the house occurs “with respect for everyone and dignity and, hopefully, a sense of humor as well.”Zack said he saw running for chair of the House of Delegates as a natural progression in his work within the ABA.“It was time to either move up or move out,” Zack said. “After 15 years in the house, it was an opportunity to chair the house or give someone else an opportunity to sit in the house.”Zack said he will strive to provide the same valuable leadership Florida provided the ABA through the likes of Chesterfield Smith, Wm. Reese Smith, Sandy D’Alemberte, and Martha Barnett.“Without their doing the fine work they had done, then I believe it would have been very difficult to be considered for this position,” Zack said.Zack encouraged Florida lawyers to continue to present issues to the ABA house and asked that they enlist the support of the ABA in achieving their objectives on behalf of the legal profession and their clients.Zack also has chaired the Florida Ethics Commission and previously served as a member of the Florida Entertainment Commission and the State of Florida Constitution Revision Commission. Zack also has served as chair of the ABA Select Committee of the House, the ABA Board of Governors, and as a member of the Board’s Finance, Communications and Operations Committees. Zack has also served as a member of the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for the Southern District of Florida, as a member of the 11th Circuit, Miami-Dade County Judicial Nominating Committee, and as a member of the Dade County Fair Campaign Practices Committee. Michael Bedke Bedke was elected to a three-year term on the ABA Board of Governors, recently concluded a term as chair of the ABA ‘s Standing Committee on Membership, and also has chaired the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence and the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division.“I guess that I am old school in that I believe we are part of a learned profession and we owe an obligation to give something back to society, and the ABA has been at the forefront of those issues,” Bedke said. “Also, the issues that are impacting the profession ultimately are debated and resolved, to some extent, at the ABA.”Over the next few years, Bedke thinks the ABA board will focus on the organization’s financial well-being, membership benefits, and increased membership.“Dennis Archer, the ABA’s current president, really has been beating the drum to bring more people back into the ABA,” Bedke said. “We have got to bring more military lawyers; we have got to bring more sole and small practice practitioners; and we have to bring more diversity into the ABA.”Bedke said if the 400,000-member ABA is going to hold itself out as the national spokesperson on behalf of the profession, it must represent the majority of lawyers in the country.“I think that is going to be a real focus for the organizations and particularly for the Board of Governors over the course of the next couple of years,” he said.Bedke said he wants to hear from Florida lawyers about issues the ABA should, or should not, be addressing, and urged them to contact him at [email protected] piperrudnick.com.“I’m here to help ensure their voices are heard,” Bedke said. Suzanne Gilbert Gilbert, the daughter of former Florida Bar President Leonard H. Gilbert, will be officially elected to the post of YLD member-at-large representative to the ABA Board of Governors in August. She will then serve for one year as the nominee, and in August 1995, will begin a two-year term on the board as one of two ABA YLD representatives.Gilbert began her involvement in the ABA YLD in 1999, about six months after she began working at Holland & Knight and a little over two years since she began practicing.“My dad, who at the time was chair of the fellows of the American Bar Foundation, stressed to me the importance of service to the bar through both his words and his actions,” Gilbert said. “I had grown up around The Florida Bar and the ABA through my dad’s work in both organizations and was excited to be involved as an attorney.”Gilbert said ABA YLD is a forum for debate on issues that affect lawyers, many times used as a testing ground for issues that will be presented on the floor of the ABA House of Delegates. She said it provides a wonderful opportunity for young lawyers to raise issues of concern, both procedural and substantive, such as multidisciplinary practice and domestic violence.“I am very fortunate to have such wonderful role models for bar service — Chesterfield Smith, Martha Barnett, and my dad, to name a few,” said Gilbert, noting the ABA YLD represents approximately 135,000 young lawyers across the country. “One of its primary missions is service to the public and the legal community. We are often recognized as the public service arm of the ABA. Currently, we are promoting our public service project entitled “One Child, One Lawyer,” which has as its aim increasing awareness of the unmet legal needs of children.”Gilbert also said she will continue to do what others in Florida did for her — help Florida young lawyers who want to be active participants in the ABA YLD get involved. Gilbert can be contacted at [email protected]last_img read more