President-Elect Dick Lewis Looks to the Future as He Presides Over House of Delegates for the First Time
As Binghamton attorney Dick Lewis presides for the first time over the New York State Bar Association’s governing body, the House of Delegates, he is thinking about ways to help other lawyers. “If we make it easier for our members to practice law, it makes it easier for them to represent clients and therefore provides access to justice.”
Lewis, who took over as president-elect of the New York State Bar Association on June 1, would like to establish lines of communication, or a pipeline as he puts it, to hear from the association’s members about the major issues they face in their practices.
“We want to fight for lawyers, reduce barriers and deal with those day-to-day issues that affect them,” Lewis says. “That is our mission.”
Lewis says the association’s advocacy for raising assigned counsel rates is an example of how the association fights for members. He explains that adequate pay for attorneys equates to better representation of clients. Access to broadband technology is another issue that is key to helping clients and improving access to justice. It affects members in both rural and urban parts of the state.
“It’s important that we have a seat at the table and can explain to our state leaders what will help provide access to justice,” he says.
Rising Through the Local Ranks
Lewis’ attention to serving members is rooted in a history of leadership at the local level. In addition to his work at NYSBA, Lewis is a past president of the Broome County Bar Association and past chair of its Endowment, Ethics and Grievance committees.
He says the focus on local issues affecting members keeps you attuned to their needs. “We see each other every day and it allows you to focus on local issues that impact members directly,” he says.
It also helps you work with members of different backgrounds who may have a different perspective. “You do understand that there are different opinions out there and they all have merit and are expressed in good faith, “he says.
Committed to Diversity
The president-elect shares President Sherry Levin Wallach’s commitment to diversity. He notes that the rancor and division in the public discourse doesn’t have to continue. “We can recognize that there is diversity of thought out there and appreciating and respecting people’s diverse thoughts is incredibly important to our association and society in general, “he says.
“People are allowed to have differing points of view and it doesn’t mean they are acting in bad faith. We need to be able to respect each other and to let each other speak. Equally important – we need to listen. We may never agree but we can understand each other,” he says.
In a recent meeting with new House delegates, Lewis discussed how a return to in-person meetings helps members reconnect. “While technology has allowed us to continue with our business as an association, we have lost a bit of the humanity and personal touch that defines us,” he said.
Lewis is committed to working with lawyers in all parts of New York – from Brooklyn to Batavia, Horseheads to Hoosick Falls.
“We represent every county, every practice area, every size firm not to mention members in all 50 states and countries across the globe. We want every member to feel that they are an important part of this association and that their voice matters, because it does.”
Watch an excerpt of our interview here.