President-elect Candidate Statement: Richard Lewis

By Richard Lewis

President-elect Candidate Statement: Richard Lewis

9.28.2021

By Richard Lewis

richardlewis

I write to express my interest in serving the New York State Bar Association as its President-Elect. My interest in the position stems from my commitment to prioritizing service to lawyers and their clients and my long association with NYSBA. I have served on the House of Delegates since 2001 and presently serve on the Executive Committee as Vice President from the 6″‘ Judicial District. In addition, I’ve been actively involved with numerous NYSBA task forces and committees and currently serve as chair of the Uniform Rules Committee (URC).

I believe that NYSBA can become stronger and far more vibrant if we focus on helping our membership deal with the nuts and bolts of everyday practice. This was recently illustrated when the URC held four informational forums for the membership. Over 400 members from diverse areas of practice responded and we received numerous communications encouraging us and thanking us for advocating for their interests. Action was clearly what membership wanted.

Numerous former members and non-members have questioned the value and the relevance of NYSBA. Working on issues that impact them directly will have a far-reaching effect on enlarging and retaining our membership and building enthusiasm and loyalty with our current and perspective members. It is necessary for us to step up on behalf of our attorneys and help to ease the impediments to practicing law. In helping attorneys, we will also have a direct impact on improving access to justice for’ our clients, who will be less burdened with high costs and time delays.

I also believe that we need to pursue a “Big Tent” policy. Diversity and inclusion is a principal goal of NYSBA. In addition to improving ethnic and gender diversity we need to increase our numbers of in-house, government, younger, and international attorneys by creating programs that are specifically tailored to their needs.

Most importantly, it is essential that we listen to our membership. We must have two-way communication so that our members can have input and can observe our responsiveness. Likewise, we need to have open communication with our partners which would include local bars and the OCA. During the URC forums, concern was expressed that the OCA was not listening to lawyers. We must correct this perception and demonstrate that a mutual respect exists. Expressing the views of practicing attorneys to OCA and having them consider those views will enhance our justice system.

Another important issue is civic education. I believe that students from grammar school through university must be exposed to all sides of each issue. I ant concerned that students are being encouraged to disrespect speakers, rather than listening and debating. Our justice system and government must be better understood. Who better to explain than attorneys who are immersed in the system daily. I propose a Speaker’s Bureau that would partner with Local Bar Associations to enlist attorneys to visit classrooms and discuss issues confronting our country and the futures of these young people. We must demonstrate the necessity of debate, respect and civility.

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