Stephen N. Zack
President, American Bar Association
Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Law Day Program
Friday, May 6th, 2011 - noon
Miami lawyer Stephen N. Zack, is a partner in the national law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. He will serve August 2010–August 2011 as American Bar Association president, and is the first Hispanic American to achieve that distinction.
Among his varied accomplishments, Zack was the first Hispanic-American and youngest president of the Florida Bar, and one of the first members of the Cuban-American Bar Association. The Hispanic National Bar Association named him 2010 Latino Lawyer of the Year.
In addition, Hispanic Business Magazine included Zack on its 2010 list of the 100 Top Influential Hispanics. Florida Trend Magazine named him a Florida Legal Elite Attorney; the Miami Herald has, for many years, recognized him in its Super Lawyers section as a Top Florida Lawyer; he was selected to be one of the 2010 Law Dragon 500 and he is included in the 2011 edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the practice area of commercial litigation. Other awards include, 2010 Legal Legends Award; History Miami and 11th Judicial Circuit Historical Society; 2010 University of Florida Distinguished Alumnus Award; 2010 J. Ben Watkins Award for Excellence in the Legal Profession, Stetson Law Review; St. Thomas University Award for Outstanding Service and Commitment to Legal Education, Professionalism and an Independent Judiciary; and Gran Caiman of the Year 2010, University of Florida Association of Hispanic Alumni.
Zack has four initiatives for his presidential term: access to justice and the underfunding of the judiciary; the need for increased civic education in our schools and for all Americans; Hispanic legal rights and responsibilities; and the ABA’s work in the area of disaster response and preparedness. Zack has organized working groups for each of these initiatives.
The Task Force on the Preservation of the Justice System (chaired by lawyers David Boies and Ted Olson) will be composed of talented and distinguished attorneys and judges from across the country. Zack will call on them to highlight the fiscal crisis that has resulted in budget slashes to courts nationwide. In particular, Zack will call attention to the devastating result of underfunded courts: a decline in access to justice.
The Commission on Civic Education in the Nation’s Schools (chaired by lawyers Marna Tucker and Paulette Brown, and with retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as a commission advisor) will draw on the combined talents of attorneys, judges, educators and organizational leaders. Their role will be to promote civic education as a national educational priority, highlight and enhance existing civic education efforts and create opportunities for innovative civic education programs throughout the United States.
The Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities (chaired by Cesar Alvarez and honorary co-chairs Emilio Estefan, former U.S. Senator Mel Martinez and Gov. Bill Richardson) will identify important legal issues that represent barriers to full participation by, and daily contributions from, Hispanics living in the United States. The work of the commission and its advisory committee will help focus and foster an environment that welcomes and recognizes the contributions of Hispanics in our society and ensures their human rights.
The ABA Special Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness (chaired by lawyer David Bienvenu) is tasked to assess the association’s readiness for a natural or manmade disaster, and will develop a comprehensive crisis plan. In particular, Zack would like the committee to address how a terrorist attack might affect our way of life, our Constitutional guarantees and our system of justice, and to develop responsive measures that will help safeguard the future.
Zack joined the ABA more than 30 years ago. During that time, he has served as a Florida State delegate, chair of the House of Delegates — the ABA’s policymaking body — and as a member of the association’s Board of Governors. Zack’s recent ABA activities include serving as chair of the Strategic Planning Action Committee, member of the Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity, member-at-large of the Section of International Law, and secretary of the American Bar Endowment. He is also a life fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
Zack’s civic activities in Florida include working as General Counsel to Gov. Bob Graham, chair of the State Ethics Commission of the State of Florida and member of the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission. He chaired the City of Miami Beach Charter Review Commission and the Environmental Commission for the City of Miami. He is a former legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Claude Pepper, a member of the Orange Bowl Committee and of the Public Health Trust, as well as former chair of the Florida Ethics Committee and member of the 11th Circuit (Miami-Dade County) Judicial Nominating Committee for the Southern District.
Some of the clients he has represented include: former Vice President Al Gore in the trial of Bush v. Gore; Florida’s former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham; the Florida Senate, the Florida Department of Professional Regulation and National Geographic.
Zack received his B.A. and J.D. from the University of Florida, where he received (2009) the distinguished Alumnus Award. He has also been elected to the University of Florida Hall of Fame.
He has been admitted to practice in Florida, New York and Washington, D.C.; the Supreme Court of the United States; the Supreme Court of Florida; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida.
In addition to his work promoting issues of concern to the legal profession and presidential initiatives, Zack serves as the association’s ambassador at various events during the year. He speaks regularly to lawyers, judges and law students in the United States and around the world, and presents material at law school forums, as he did recently at Harvard University on the topic of the globalization of legal education.