Midyear Meeting

Change is good 'and will carry us into the future,' says ABA president-elect nominee Bill Bay

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Bill Bay speaks at a podium

William R. Bay speaks to the House of Delegates after being confirmed as the ABA president-elect nominee at the 2023 ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans. (Photo by ┬ęKathy Anderson)

While urging the ABA House of Delegates to recognize that change in the profession is both necessary and a challenge, William R. Bay, the president-elect nominee, shared a story about his family.

He gathered in St. Louis, where he lives, with his wife, adult children, grandchildren and in-laws. It was different than the holidays that he and his wife celebrated when their children were young, Bay noted, because with a new mix of loved ones, customs have changed.

“We are building new traditions that reflect our family’s reality today and will carry us into the future. Let me suggest the same approach as we face the future in our ABA family,” said Bay, a partner at Thompson Coburn and a recent chair of the House of Delegates.

Throughout his time with the ABA, the business litigator has been active with the Young Lawyers Division, the Division for Bar Services and the Litigation Section. Additionally, he co-chaired the Practice Forward initiative. Its focus included member concerns regarding the pandemic, as well as changes in the profession.

His speech stressed the importance of the ABA being the voice of the profession and its home as well. According to him, that means that the ABA has to be an organization in which members with different political beliefs feel welcome, and everyone has opportunities to provide input on tools and standards for topics including ethics and the rule of law.

Follow along with the ABA Journal’s coverage of the 2023 ABA Midyear Meeting here.

“If our organization is to be the home where every member of the profession feels welcome and valued, we are going to have to change,” he said. “It means we must simplify and transform to meet the needs of new generations of lawyers who view the profession and our association differently than we have.”

Important work lies ahead, he said.

“But together we can do this. Let’s welcome everyone home.”

Now that Bay’s nomination as president-elect has been made official by the Nominating Committee, it will be considered by the full ABA House of Delegates at the 2023 ABA Annual Meeting in Denver. He is running unopposed, and his confirmation is a formality. The current president-elect, Mary Smith, will receive the gavel from ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross and begin her one-year term as president after the close of the 2023 ABA Annual Meeting. Bay would succeed Smith as ABA president at the close of the 2024 annual meeting.

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