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The Florida Bar Association's new president Gary S. Lesser outlines his goals for the next year

Attorney Gary S. Lesser of West Palm Beach is the new president of the Florida Bar Association. Lesser, who took office in June, recently outlined for FLORIDA TREND his goals for the yearlong term.

Goals: “I have two primary goals for my presidency and one of them is establishing a statewide mentoring program aimed at younger lawyers, specifically those in solo practice or practicing in small firms of three or four attorneys.

We’re seeing across the state a real lack of mentorship that is so essential for younger lawyers to have a successful and meaningful career. New attorneys with government or big firms generally have some type of mentorship aspect, someone whose door they can knock on for advice. But if you’re a newer lawyer, working alone and right out of law school or perhaps you’re working with another attorney who graduated with you, you’re not getting mentorship that could be helpful in so many ways.”

Program Outline: “Experienced attorneys recruited by the FBA would be giving advice to younger lawyers on the trajectory of their careers. The program would be statewide and largely virtual, although we’re looking at some in-person component. Everyone, and I mean everyone, I’ve spoken to about this thinks it’s a great idea.”

Problem No.1: “The FBA recently conducted a survey among our members. We asked what they thought were the biggest problems, and No. 1 was professionalism. For example, professionalism challenges come up when a lawyer speaks poorly to another lawyer in a deposition or when a lawyer isn’t showing appropriate respect to the court.”

Legal Advice: “Another goal is strengthening the FBA’s public education programs tol do a better job of explaining to the public the benefits of hiring a lawyer and also highlighting the consequences of what can happen if you don’t hire a lawyer.

There are all kinds of data out there showing that people are not hiring lawyers and making important legal decisions on their own, such as buying a home or writing a will. The aim of this program is to better focus the public’s attention on life’s important legal moments and explain to them that if you’re going to spend $300,000 on a home, you better have a lawyer who makes sure the contract protects you.”

Pro Bono: "The FBA also wants to improve the public’s access to and awareness of pro bono legal aid services. Currently, there’s a big focus by the FBA on making legal services more affordable.”