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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Feb. 27, 202005:10 AM EST

The Marbut Report: Tanner’s platform: A ‘unified’ Bar

Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart shareholder on the ballot for president-elect of The Florida Bar.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Michael Tanner wants to be president of The Florida Bar. To do that, he has to be elected president-elect after the ballots that will be sent to members Feb. 28 are certified.

Tanner, 66, graduated from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and was admitted to the Bar in 1978.

His career, spent in Jacksonville, includes practicing with Mahoney Hadlow & Adams immediately after law school. He also practiced at Holland & Knight and later was a founding partner of the Tanner Bishop boutique firm.

“I’m a working lawyer. I’ve been in the big firms and I’ve been in the small firms,” Tanner said.

He is a shareholder in Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart’s Jacksonville office, where he practices business litigation, appellate law, professional liability defense and election law.

Tanner is board-certified in business litigation and civil trial by The Florida Bar and in 2012 was inducted as a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Tanner represented the 4th Judicial Circuit for eight years on The Florida Bar Board of Governors. Tanner served as president of the American Board of Trial Advocates Jacksonville chapter and was chair of The Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education. He received the Justice Harry Lee Anstead Award in 2010, recognized as The Florida Bar Board Certified Lawyer of the Year.

The issues he feels are facing the legal profession in Florida, detailed in his platform statement posted at, include maintaining the judiciary as an independent nonpoliticized branch of government, promoting professionalism and equality, and improving access to justice for all people.

Tanner supports having a “unified” Bar and maintaining it as an agency of the state Supreme Court with the authority to regulate its members.

Otherwise, Tanner said the court would take over professional regulation, possibly creating a single-purpose agency that lawyers would be required to pay for through a mandatory licensing fee.

“And we’d lose the sections, the committees, the CLEs and the Young Lawyers Division. The Florida Bar has wonderful benefits and resources for its members,” Tanner said.

Wanting to help Florida’s lawyers through changes that are on the horizon for the profession also is motivating Tanner to seek The Florida Bar’s top leadership post.

Tanner cites what he calls “D-I-Y law,” such as internet access to certain legal forms and the increase in artificial intelligence applied to the law, as issues that will have to be addressed.

“There will be more pressure on law firms to figure out what are the core things that lawyers do that clients will want to pay for,” he said.

The other candidate on the ballot for president-elect is Renee Thompson, a civil litigator and mediator at Upchurch Watson White & Max in the firm’s Ocala office.

Thompson is chair of the Bar’s Technology Committee and has represented the 5th Circuit on the board of governors since 2013.

Ballots will be emailed or mailed to eligible voters Feb. 28. Completed ballots must be received by midnight March 23. Results are expected to be released by the Bar on March 24.

The prevailing candidate will be sworn in as president-elect at the June Annual Convention in Orlando, where current President-elect Dori Foster-Morales will be sworn in as 2020-21 president.

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