A. Vincent Buzard, a Rochester trial partner in the statewide law firm of Harris Beach PLLC, last month became the 108th president of the association.
The new state bar president will focus his efforts on increasing public comprehension of the vital role that the legal system plays in the daily life of all Americans, and of the essential function that lawyers have in a free and democratic society. Mr. Buzard will work to debunk many of the popular myths about the legal system and attorneys in such areas as jury verdicts and awards, and the amount and nature of litigation in the U.S.
He will call for enhanced People's Law School programs and Ask a Lawyer columns for local newspapers, two education initiatives that he helped popularize in the Rochester area. He also plans to examine the issue of unauthorized practice of law in New York, which appears to have an especially adverse effect on low-income and immigrant populations.
Mr. Buzard expects to establish a task force to develop rules, standards and mechanisms aimed at limiting lawyer advertising to the fullest extent permitted, within the limitations of the First Amendment. Most attorneys personally eschew the practice and continue to express deep concerns with the nature and quality of most lawyer ads.
The new Association president will work to emphasize the core values of the legal profession, by promoting programs that underscore personal civility, responsibility and professionalism within the practice of law.
He also expects to develop and strengthen strategies that educate the public and the profession on the critical need for an independent judiciary, free from political pressure and outside demands. Mr. Buzard is passionate about putting an end to what he calls "unwarranted and scurrilous attacks on the federal judiciary."
He has held various leadership positions in the NYSBA during the past 20 years, including serving on the Executive Committee (which manages the business affairs and activities of the Association) as a member-at-large (1995-98), as vice president representing the Seventh Judicial District (1998-2001), and as Association secretary (2002-2004). Buzard has served as a member of the House of Delegates, the Association's decision and policy-making body; chair of the New York State Conference of Bar Leaders, and co-chair of both the Lawyers in the Community and Medical Malpractice committees.