40 Minutes on What It Takes to Be WSBA’s At-large Young Lawyer Governor

Helen Ling and Sean Davis

Ever wonder what it’s like to serve on the Washington State Bar Association’s Board of Governors? Washington Young Lawyer Committee Past Chair Helen Ling recently sat down with former Board Governor Sean M. Davis to discuss his experiences in the at-large governor position reserved for new and young lawyers. Davis recently vacated the position to assume the role of WSBA’s general counsel. WSBA is now accepting nominations to complete the remainder of his term. Check out a few of his answers to the most recent Q&A session, or watch the full interview online.

If we could take you back to before you applied to be on the Board of Governors, what position were you in and what made you want to be involved?
“I heard a presentation about the future of the practice of law and the connection that the practice of law has to our system of government and how vital it is and some emerging issues with the rule of law and how lawyers function in society as a whole. That’s what galvanized me and made me interested in applying to the board…

“I was a deputy prosecutor. I was an assistant attorney general. I am also currently in the Air Force Reserve Jag Corps. So, looking at legal systems from the federal, county, and state levels gave me a good understanding of how legal services were delivered and ways to innovate.”

What kind of experience is the WSBA looking for in fulfilling the position?
“I think having prior board experience is a big help, but I think it’s also important to remember I did not have prior board experience prior to being on the Board of Governors. But, I had a lot of experience collaborating with others towards a big goal. Those experiences can be parlayed and useful. And then I also feel like being connected to your legal community, whether it be a county bar association or other type of legal entities in Washington state, is very helpful and a good way to prepare for being on the Board of Governors.”

What new skills did you pick up in this position?
“I feel like I became a lot more patient. The Bar is a big organization that can move slowly at times. The analogy I hear most often, being a governor, is that you’re stepping into a raging river. There’s a lot that came before you and a lot will come after you. A lot of decisions have already been made and you are really there to facilitate and direct that river for a short amount of time, and then someone else will step in the river and start directing it.”

Do you have any particularly memorable experiences from serving on the Board of Governors?
“One of the highlights was giving the Local Hero Award. The Board travels around different parts of Washington state for its meetings and when we meet outside of Seattle, we give a local hero award to a local attorney doing excellent work that embodies the mission of the Bar. Getting to go to Olympia, Bremerton, Spokane, and meet and talk to local heroes—attorneys doing excellent work for the community — has been probably one of the biggest highlights of being on the Board of Governors.”

How can you apply to the Board of Governor At-large seat for new and young lawyers?
WSBA members who meet the “Young Lawyer” definition in the WSBA Bylaws are eligible to apply for the at-large position. Learn more about the position and how to apply. Nominations are due by 5 p.m. PDT on Thursday, July 20, 2017.

Do you have questions for Sean M. Davis about his experience on the Board of Governors? WSBA is hosting another online Q&A at noon on Friday, July 7. Join us online.

One thought on “40 Minutes on What It Takes to Be WSBA’s At-large Young Lawyer Governor

  1. Edward Hiskes

    I think the Governor should have mentioned the most important part of his job, which is representing his constituents, that is, WSBA members who pay license fees. If I am not mistaken, Governor Davis voted to quash a fully qualified membership referendum concerning the pending license fee increase. In doing so, he betrayed his constituents in favor of the same elite circle of insiders who appointed — not elected — him to the board. I am sure he has done many wonderful things, but this was an indelible stain on his record. The bylaws should be changed so that all members of the BOG are elected by the members. The members ARE the WSBA.

    As for being appointed to be General Counsel, congratulation. However, the WSBA needs a merit-based, civil service selection system, not a system of political patronage appointments. Patronage appointees serve the elites in management who appointed them — the same people who illegally quashed the License Fee Referendum. Civil service employees would be more likely to serve the members, or at least be non-subservient neutrals.

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