Voting in Bar Elections
Why Should I Waste My Time?
By Seth D. Kirschenbaum
Davis, Zipperman, Kirschenbaum & Lotito, LLP
hen I was asked to write a piece about the
importance of voting in bar elections, I thought that
it was a tough assignment. I mean, what do bar
associations do that is so important? Why does it matter
who leads them? And why does it matter if I vote in them
or not? After giving this some thought, I came up with a few
One thing I knew from my own experience in leading a
bar association was that bar associations play a key role
in representing the legal profession to the outside world.
The leaders of our bar associations are the face of the
profession. Don’t we want leaders of whom we are truly
proud and who we trust to represent the profession well and
honorably? Exercising the vote in bar association elections
helps insure that leaders are selected by the rank and file
of the profession and that they are not just self-selected bar
junkies you wouldn’t want your mother to meet.
agreed that was possible. So, I said, if we could get everyone
who agreed with him about the importance of one vote to
vote then we could get a hundred thousand more people to
the polls. He agreed.
Bar associations run CLE programs; their sections are focal
points for every specialty in the profession; they do charitable
work in a wide variety of ways for our community and in our
schools; they bring lawyers together for the common good;
they represent our profession in the legislature and lobby
for good laws. They rate judicial candidates and defend
judges who are unjustly criticized. They perform a wide
variety of services to the profession. They represent lawyers
in society. Doesn’t it make sense that lawyers should care
enough about who the Bar’s leaders are to exercise the right
and privilege of voting for them? You know the answer, right?
Another thought I had was the fact that lawyers should be
foremost in our support for elections and voting. After all,
who knows better than us that we live in a country where
people died for the right to vote. We fought a revolution in
order to have representative government. Moreover, the
privilege of voting filters down to the level of organizations
like bar associations. So, of all professionals, lawyers should
understand and appreciate the importance of the right and
privilege to vote in a free society and take pride in exercising
I have an example of the importance of voting. The first time
I ran for Treasurer of the Atlanta Bar Association, I didn’t
campaign at all and lost the election by six votes! I thought
at the time, Wow, if I had done anything to campaign for
that office I could have found seven votes. The incident
demonstrated for me in stark terms how votes count.
I taught a class on voting last year at Therrell High School.
One of the students told me that he didn’t think his one vote
mattered. I asked him if he thought there were a hundred
thousand young people in Georgia who thought the same
thing as he and would not vote for the same reason. He
6 THE ATLANTA LAWYER
Mr. Kirschenbaum was President of the Atlanta Bar
Association from 2001-2002 and has been a member of
the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Georgia since
2004. Currently, Mr. Kirschenbaum is the Chair of BASICS,
a State Bar of Georgia sponsored re-entry training program
for prisoners within six months of release from incarceration.
In 2001, Mr. Kirschenbaum hosted a retreat for fifty lawyers
from diverse backgrounds that lead to the creation of the
Multi-Bar Leadership Council.
The Official News Publication of the Atlanta Bar Association