David Watson, executive director of the New York State Bar Association
David Watson, executive director of the New York State Bar Association ()

The New York State Bar Association has begun a national search for a new executive director with David Watson’s impending departure for the Michigan’s Institute of Continuing Legal Education, which he will lead.

The state bar’s search will be aided by Young Mayden, a legal search and consulting firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee, which helped the association find Watson in 2014 (NYLJ, June 12, 2014).

Watson’s departure as executive director was prompted by a desire to be closer to his family in his native Midwest, state bar officials said Tuesday. He will remain the bar’s executive director until Dec. 31.

State Bar President Claire Gutekunst said in a statement that Watson brought an “entrepreneurial spirit” to the organization, allowing it to respond better to the needs of its 74,000 members in the rapidly changing legal profession.

The Albany-based state bar has 125 employees and an annual budget of about $25 million.

The state bar said Gutekunst will chair the search committee and work closely with Young Mayden’s Barbara Mendel Mayden, a former attorney with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and a one-time member of the state bar’s House of Delegates.

Watson previously was executive director of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.

The Institute of Continuing Legal Education is in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The institute is operated by the Michigan State Bar Association and law schools in Michigan.