ABA President-Elect William Neukom Plans to Emphasize Rule of Law Issues
Posted Oct 24, 2006 5:41 AM CST
By James Podgers
The selection of William H. Neukom as ABA president-elect was formalized by the House of Delegates in August during the association’s annual meeting in Honolulu. He won’t have to worry about keeping busy for the next two years.
Neukom will serve as president elect until the close of the association’s 2007 annual meeting in August, when he will begin serving a one year term as president. The demands of leading the world’s largest professional association will crescendo throughout those 24 months.
In his inaugural speech to the House, Neukom said he will emphasize giving rule of law principles a sharper focus.
For lawyers, said Neukom, “the rule of law is the framework for our professional work and our community work.” But those principles also reach far beyond the boundaries of the justice system, he said.
Neukom outlined three initiatives to help put the rule of law into clearer context for a wider spectrum of society.
One of those efforts, said Neukom, will involve reaching out to those in other fields, such as teachers, doctors, the clergy and journalists, to find common ground in understanding the importance of the rule of law.
A second initiative will develop what Neukom termed a “rule of law index” to help measure efforts to establish societies that incorporate the rule of law.
Neukom’s third step will be to appoint a commission that will ask whether the rule of law really matters. Within the legal system, at least, the answer to that question has been treated as a given, but, said Neukom, “it’s time to measure the validity of our belief.” Neukom chairs the Seattle law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis. He also spent 17 years as executive vice president of law and corporate affairs at Microsoft.
Neukom has been active in the ABA since the early 1970s. He chaired the Young Lawyers Division in 1977 78, and he has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1978, including terms as ABA secretary from 1983 to 1987. He chaired the Commission on Governance that proposed revisions to the ABA leadership structure in 2005. Concluding his speech to the House in Honolulu, Neukom said he isn’t the only one who will be busy during the next two years. “We have work to do, you and I,” he said. “It’s good and important work, and there’s lots of it.”