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Neukom Gets the Nod

William H. Neukom wants to bring the rule of law back home.

The rule of law is crucial throughout the world, says Neukom, who was introduced in February as the association’s president-elect nominee.

“A rules-based system of self-government that includes a strong and accessible legal process featuring an independent bench and bar is critical to every nation,” says Neukom, the chair of Preston Gates & Ellis in Seattle.

But rule of law issues must be addressed at both the domestic and international levels, Neukom says. One of his priorities as ABA president will be to make rule of law issues “meaningful to county-seat lawyers” in the U.S.

Neukom’s selection by the ABA Nominating Committee to head the association was announced during the midyear meeting in Chicago. His election by the House of Delegates in August during the annual meeting in Honolulu is now a formality.

Neukom will begin serving as ABA president-elect at the close of the annual meeting, then serve a one-year term as president starting in August 2007.

Between stints at Preston Gates (known previously as Shidler, McBroom, Gates & Lucas), Neukom served for 17 years as executive vice president of law and corporate affairs at Microsoft. After returning to Preston Gates in 2002, he became chair of the firm in January 2004.

Neukom has been active in the ABA since the early 1970s. Among his activities, Neukom chaired the Young Lawyers Division in 1977-78. He has been a member of the House since 1978, including terms as ABA secretary from 1983 to 1987. He chaired the Commission on Governance that submitted recommendations in 2005 on revising the ABA leadership structure.

In addition to rule of law issues, Neukom says he will focus on ABA services to members.

Neukom emphasized “a broad menu of opportunities for lawyers to improve themselves.” More networking opportunities would help lawyers broaden perspectives “on what the practice of law really means,” he said.

The ABA is poised at the beginning of “an era of leadership” when it will be important to reach out to members, said Neukom in his introductory speech to the House of Delegates. “We accomplish the most when we build a big tent and fill it with round tables.”

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