The Atlanta Lawyer January/February 2015 | Page 6

Feature Article Voting in Bar Elections Why Should I Waste My Time? By Seth D. Kirschenbaum Davis, Zipperman, Kirschenbaum & Lotito, LLP [email protected] W 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 answers. 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 that privilege. 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 January/February 2015 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