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This South Florida Lawyer Just Became President of The Florida Bar

The attorney will assume the role of The Florida Bar president in June 2022.

West Palm Beach litigator Gary Lesser credits his family-supported grassroots campaign in his election victory to become an upcoming president of The Florida Bar.

Lesser, a longtime bar leader, had unique challenges in his campaign due to social distancing restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic. He emphasized taking part in multiple virtual meetings each day with lawyers in the sunshine state and having his colleagues who volunteered in his campaign to focus on email outreach.

And Lesser took advice from those close to him, including his eldest of three daughters, a law student who conveyed priorities to meet the needs of future lawyers starting their practice in a turbulent time, based on the conversations she had with her classmates.

“There are those who said virtual was a lot easier,” Lesser said. “I saw this as an opportunity to connect with as many lawyers as possible. I’m grateful for the great deal of support from my family and lawyers across Florida.”

In the general election, Lesser faced off against a fellow board of governors member, Steven W. Davis, a Boies Schiller Flexner partner in Miami. Lesser, the managing partner at Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith in West Palm Beach, prevailed in the election.

And Lesser will eventually succeed the current president-elect Michael Tanner, a shareholder at Gunster in Tallahassee, whose upcoming tenure as bar president is set to expire in June 2022.

Now, with the election behind him, Lesser is strategizing how best to accomplish his goals when he assumes president-elect and the president role. One of Lesser’s goals when he assumes these roles is to fix the “unprecedented disconnect” between non-lawyers and those in the legal profession.

“People buy a home without a lawyer, not knowing if they lost thousands of dollars on the closing statement or they go on their own in family law and lose custody of their kids,” Lesser said. “Many people who try not to hire a lawyer and do it on their own end up with very bad consequences.”

A second aim will be to improve communication with members of the bar to better convey the benefits of the organization.

“I heard a number of times on the campaign trail: ‘What you said is nice, but what does The Florida Bar do for me?’” Lesser said. “The Florida Bar has great social media. We send a lot of emails. Clearly, we are not setting the right message in tone or content. That is going to be my focus in leadership going forward. That we are here at The Florida Bar to help you.” And for Lesser, he is thankful for all the help he received along the way. After earning his
undergraduate degree in 1989 in international affairs from George Washington University, Lesser went on to the University of Miami School of Law. He was editor-in-chief of the law school newspaper and ultimately graduated in 1992.

Lesser pointed to Tod Aronovitz, who has a private practice in Miami that Lesser interned after law school and a former bar president in 2002, as a mentor. Twenty-two years ago, Aronovitz suggested Lesser should apply for a bar committee. Later on, Aronovitz encouraged Lesser to join the board of governors and ultimately his successful campaign for bar president.

“Something I tell young lawyers is to get involved in the community,” Lesser said. “I’ve gotten far more back than the time I put in my involvement. Pick two or three causes and see where you are at six months later in your career.”

Michael A. Mora
Michael primarily covers litigation in South Florida for the Daily Business Review. You can contact him by email: [email protected].

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