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Editor’s note: State Bar Association Secretary Walter Lesnevich explained his reasons for not running for the post of treasurer in a letter to the Bar’s newspaper, New Jersey Lawyer , a copy of which was provided to the Law Journal ; the text of that letter follows: After careful consideration, and with somewhat mixed emotions, I have decided not to contest the nominating committee’s selection for the position of treasurer in our association. I thank those of you who offered your time, efforts and friendship in support of a contested election. I particularly thank those past presidents of our association who offered their unheeded advice to this year’s nominating committee as to the destructive impact removing an officer from the chairs will have on our association. I especially wish to thank the majority of last year’s nominating committee for their continued support for which, I understand, they continue to face pressure. I owe an explanation as to why I am not running. While it would be very interesting to see if the general membership agrees with my idea of how the bar association should grow, as opposed to the ideas of the majority of the members of the executive committee, I fear a general election challenge would be far too disruptive to the bar association. The replacement of me in the chairs has already been extremely disruptive. To those of you who told me you were going to quit the bar association in protest, I ask you not to do that. Your voice will be lost if you leave. I remain very distressed at several trends within our organization. I have spoken out openly on those issues and have been strongly criticized for it. I fear that the bar association is becoming more and more limited to the financial elite of the legal community. The association says membership has remained steady over many years. However, since the number of lawyers has grown tremendously, the percentage of lawyers in the bar association has decreased dramatically. One of the biggest reasons for this is money. The forthcoming dues increase is counterproductive. A great deal of belt-tightening could be done to avoid an increase at this time. I do not think our association will increase its membership by increasing its dues. I remain very critical of our conventions. I do not see why we continue to hold conventions that are attended by less than 2 percent of our membership. How can we call a midyear convention successful when less than 2 percent of our members attend? The numbers attending the annual dinner dance have been decreasing dramatically as well. I did not attend the 2000 midyear convention in Monte Carlo because my youngest child, a freshman at Wesleyan University, was playing in the ESCAA Volleyball Championship. I was publicly criticized for my choice. One factor in deciding not to run now is that two of our children are graduating from college this May and I would have to miss part of the annual convention to join in all the graduation festivities. I will always choose a significant family event over a bar convention. At the Monte Carlo convention, there were not enough trustees present to constitute a quorum. It is not sufficient to now say that every officer and every trustee must attend our conventions. This type of thinking, and officer and trustee mandates, will only produce a board of well-to-do officers and trustees. The real lesson is that these types of conventions do not serve the general membership of our association; these types of conventions do not foster diversity. You can talk the talk about diversity, but if our bar association continues holding expensive conventions and requiring trustees and officers to attend, only the financially elite will be in leadership. This is wrong. For a while I believed the bar association was heading toward a new way of doing things. I thought I would be a part of that leadership. It seems to me the association is in danger of going back to being what our past president Cynthia Jacob described as “an old boys club.” It is not only gender or race or color that is diversity; we also have to represent the small firms, the sole practitioners, the moderate-income attorneys as well as the major firms. I most regret and am disheartened by the failure of the nominating committee to retain Martin Allen as a trustee. Martin is a strong voice for women and minorities in our profession and was endorsed by the Women in the Profession Section and Minorities in the Profession Section. I do hope the bar association’s standing By-Laws Committee will review the nomination and election process of sitting officers to require challenges to sitting officers be made only upon a “good cause stated” standard. In some ways it might be fun to mount the challenge, but in too many ways it would be destructive to the bar association, which is, after all, more than the sum of its present officers and board. To those of you who have strongly urged me to fight, I must say I am being selfish, but I do not care to make the effort. Thank you for your tremendous support and kind words.

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