The New York State Bar Association has named David R. Watson to serve as the next executive director of the 75,000-member Association. Currently, he is executive director of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.
“We are delighted that Dave Watson has agreed to join us as executive director. He is a highly regarded bar executive with excellent management skills and experience in business and in the legal profession, including as a practicing lawyer,” said Immediate Past President David M. Schraver of Rochester (Nixon Peabody), who chaired the search committee.
“Dave is active in the National Association of Bar Executives, where he enjoys an excellent reputation. We are confident his leadership will serve the Association well as we look to the future,” he added.
State Bar President Glenn Lau-Kee of New York City (Kee & Lau-Kee) said that Watson’s broad experience will strengthen the Association, which has served New York attorneys, the public and the justice system since 1876.
“Technology, globalization and diversity, among other factors, are altering the way attorneys practice law. To better serve our members as they navigate the changing landscape, the State Bar Association itself must change. Dave Watson’s leadership will help make that happen,” Lau-Kee said.
As executive director, Watson will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Association and help implement policies approved by its House of Delegates and Executive Committee. The Association has 125 employees at its Albany headquarters and nearby print shop.
“I am very pleased to have the opportunity to be of service to the New York legal community,” said Watson. “It is an honor and privilege to have the chance to work with the leadership, volunteers and staff of one of the truly outstanding bar associations in this country.”
Watson succeeds Patricia K. Bucklin, who stepped down in March after nearly 13 years as the Association’s executive director.
Watson brings to the New York State Bar Association his experience as a manager of three law-related associations and a legal technology company, as well as a practicing attorney and financial advisor.
Since 2010, he has been executive director of the 6,000-member Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA).
“We would like to congratulate Dave on this incredibly exciting opportunity. Dave has done a tremendous job as our executive director in Cleveland and we are sad to see him leave,” said CMBA President Jonathan Leiken (Diebold, Inc.). “Under his leadership, the CMBA has grown its membership, improved its programs and benefits, and our Foundation’s endowment has grown significantly. We expect Dave will continue to do great things as the executive director for the New York State Bar Association and we wish him well.”
Immediately prior to joining the CMBA, Watson was a financial advisor with Edward Jones Investments in Chesterton, Indiana. He also served as executive vice president of the Chicago-based Commercial Law League of America (whose members include commercial and bankruptcy attorneys) as well as deputy executive director of Defense Research Institute, a civil defense bar association.
He also was a practicing attorney in Ohio, including time as a solo practitioner. In addition, Watson spent a decade as a manager for what is now Lexis-Nexis, working in Dayton, Ohio, as well as overseas managing software-engineering teams in India and the Philippines.
Watson is a 1985 graduate of Kenyon College and earned his law degree from Case Western Reserve University in 1988.
The 75,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It has members in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and 120 countries. It was founded in 1876.
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