eugene_k_pettis_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — Fort Lauderdale attorney Eugene K. Pettis faced no opposition in his bid to become president of The Florida Bar during recent elections and will become the first African American to head the organization when he takes office in 2013.

Pettis will be sworn in as president-elect of the 93,000-member organization at its annual convention in June 2012, when Tampa attorney Gwynne Alice Young will become president.

“The reach of the Bar and its members’ contributions to public good is unparalleled,” Pettis said in a statement announcing his election to the office. “Through my travels across the state, I have seen hundreds of lawyers who are using their skills in service to their communities. These observations have ignited in me even greater pride in our Bar.”

A founding partner of Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm, Pettis is a trial attorney who has been practicing law since 1985.

He was elected to the Bar’s governing board from the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in 2005 and currently serves on the executive committee of the board of governors and co-chairs. The Hawkins Commission that is reviewing the Bar’s discipline system.

Pettis co-chaired the board of governors’ blue ribbon committee formed to promote diversity and inclusion in the practice of law.

“The Florida Bar has made diversity and inclusion an objective in its strategic plan,” he said. “I truly believe the strength of the Bar rests in the whole; together, there is benefit for us all.”

For three years, he also chaired the Bar’s committee that seeks to preserve the independence of Florida’s judiciary and led the committee as it launched its Benchmarks program for attorneys to teach civics education to adults. He remains committed to working to make sure Florida’s courts receive the funding they need instead of relying on volatile fees that have fallen with the troubled economy.

“Our challenge is to make it clear that sufficient funding for our court system is not an option but is essential,” Pettis said, adding that he will continue efforts to identify “a long-term, predictable source of court funding so that every Floridian will be assured access to our courts.”

Pettis graduated in 1982 from the University of Florida with a B.A. and obtained his law degree at UF in 1985. He is on the board of trustees of at the university’s Levin School of Law and serves on several university advisory committees.

Photo: Eugene K. Pettis