Downs named president-elect

first_imgDowns named president-elect January 1, 2009 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Downs named president-elect Senior EditorMayanne Downs of Orlando has become president-elect designate of The Florida Bar after being elected without opposition. Her election became official December 15 with the close of filing. Downs will be sworn in as president-elect in June 2009, when current President-elect Jesse H. Diner of Ft. Lauderdale becomes president for the 2009-10 Bar year. Downs will be sworn in as president of the 86,000-member Bar in June 2010. She will be the organization’s fourth woman president since its founding in 1950.She has served on the Bar Board of Governors since 2002.“I’m not sure it has sunk in. It’s hard to imagine that any person would have an honor like this. It’s an extraordinary opportunity and honor,” Downs said of being elected. “I’m very proud to be a lawyer and very proud of this profession, and I’m happy for the opportunity to do some things I’m interested in doing.”That includes, she said, traveling the state and meeting Bar members.Downs shared her thoughts about her decision to run for president.“After spending a couple of years doing the work of the board, I decided I wanted to be a more meaningful part of that.. . . I had been so impressed by this group and the commitment this board has to the profession and the administration of justice.”Two years ago, Downs was critically ill with sepsis and she was asked if that near-death experience made a difference in her plans. She said it had, because of the support from the board throughout her illness and conversations with board members who had seen similar situations which had profoundly influenced their lives and convinced them not to defer their dreams.“It was the complete embodiment of that saying, ‘that which does not kill you makes you stronger,’ because I look at everything differently now,” Downs said, adding looking at things differently ranges from her teenage children, to her partners, to the profession, and the Bar.Asked for her top three goals as Bar president, Downs rattled them off in her typically direct fashion.“A continued focus on technology,” she said. “The way we communicate today is markedly different than when I came on the board a short time ago. I have teenage children. The way they interface with the world using communications is the wave of the future.“I just actually did my own Web site. I did it for the fun, and I really did it because I was so interested in how my children get information about the world around them.“I want to be sure The Florida Bar is on the cutting edge in communicating with its members and making technological advances.”Technology also plays a part in Downs’ next goal.“We’re going to have to find a way to fit the advertising regulatory framework into the world of modern communications,” she said, noting when the advertising regulations were first written, Yellow Pages and TV were the high-tech options. Now lawyers use Web pages, e-mails, and text messages.“What we think of advertising today is literally a different thing than when those rules were written,” Downs believes.Finally, the president-elect designate wants “to continue to find ways to help our profession improve its perception in the world, improve its perception to consumers, and improve its perception within the profession.”An improved perception can be achieved by finding reasonable ways to assist lawyers in providing pro bono services, and using technology to help lawyers in their daily lives.“We are not a trade organization. We are an organization that needs to always remember our important duty to our members to make their lives better and make our profession better,” Downs said. “If at the end of the day we haven’t helped the lawyer sitting at his or her desk practicing law, we haven’t really fulfilled our mission.”A native of Orlando, Downs is a shareholder in King, Blackwell, Downs & Zehnder, where she has handled civil, trial, appellate, and domestic relations cases since 1990. She was appointed Orlando city attorney in 2007. She is admitted to practice in all Florida courts, the U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.Downs is a past president of the Orange County Bar Association (1997-98) and a member of its executive council from 1992-98. She is also a past president of the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association (1995-96) and of the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers (1992).Downs was first elected to The Florida Bar Board of Governors in 2002 and has served on the executive committee since 2005 and served as a past chair of the Budget Committee.Earning a juris doctorate degree with highest honors from the University of Florida College of Law in 1987, she served as chancellor of the University of Florida Student Honor Court and held two senior editor positions for the University of Florida Law Review while current Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was editor-in-chief. She received numerous academic awards, including Order of the Coif honoring law school graduates in the top 10 percent of their class. Her bachelor’s degree was awarded from University of Florida where she was inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame and was an active member of Florida Blue Key.last_img

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