The Florida Bar is pleased to announce that its Board of Governors has selected Joshua E. Doyle to serve as the organization’s next executive director. His appointment follows a nationwide search to follow John F. “Jack” Harkness, Jr., who after 37 years of service will shift from executive director to an ongoing consulting role. Doyle and Harkness will begin a six-month transition process in July.
“The search committee undertook a rigorous process to review a field of very strong, talented applicants from around the country,” said Scott Hawkins, past president of The Florida Bar and chair of the Executive Director Search Committee. “After spending hundreds of hours and reviewing dozens of applications including from appellate judges and senior government officials, we ultimately found what we were looking for, which is embodied in the character and credentials of Josh Doyle.”
Doyle comes to the Bar following a lengthy career in civil service, most recently as a special agent for the FBI working in the bureau’s Tallahassee office. Prior to his seven-year tenure at the FBI, he worked as a lawyer and lobbyist for Metz, Husband & Daughton P.A., including serving as an outside legislative consultant to The Florida Bar.
Doyle grew up in Tallahassee and received his undergraduate and law degrees from Florida State University. Prior to law school, Doyle served as special assistant to U.S. Senator Bob Graham. He was also special assistant to Tallahassee attorney Martha Barnett when she was president of the American Bar Association in 2001.
“Josh is one of the most ethical people I have had the fortune to know and treats everyone with respect, whether it is the building maintenance staff or a Supreme Court justice,” Barnett said. “He also has a keen ability to process information quickly and stay one step ahead of what’s necessary to fulfill common goals.”
Harkness said Doyle has the proper demeanor for the job and possesses the ability to quickly form relationships with diverse groups of people.
“Josh instills confidence in those around him and is good at motivating people to work toward a common goal,” Harkness said. “I look forward to working alongside him over the next several months and will always be a helping hand as he transitions into this new role.”
Harkness adds that while his plan is to stay through the remainder of the year, he will remain in an advisory role for as long as needed.
“There are no words that adequately convey the impact that Jack has had on this organization and the people that comprise it,” said William J. Schifino, Jr., president of The Florida Bar. “He leaves not just a legacy but a roadmap to guide the Bar through the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I am confident that Josh is more than up to the task.”
In many ways, Harkness’ decades of service mirror the Bar’s explosive growth and accomplishments. Since his appointment in 1980, the Bar has grown from 27,713 members to more than 104,000 today. Under his stewardship, The Florida Bar has become one of the largest bars in the country, setting new standards for professionalism and elevating its role as a resource for members, advocate of the courts, and defender of the rights of all Florida citizens.
“Josh is a public servant at his core, and has built a career founded on the premise that everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard,” said Michael J. Higer, president-elect of The Florida Bar. “His leadership appointment comes at a time of much change in the profession that will bring with it both new opportunities and challenges. I look forward to working alongside him in the upcoming year.”