August 20, 2016

Looking Back on Year as BLS Chair: William B. Rosenberg

Richard G. Paszkiet

William Rosenberg has been a member of the ABA Business Law Section (BLS) since 1992. This past year, however, William has been at the helm of BLS, one of the ABA’s largest and most respected member entities, at a time when there are many challenges facing the legal profession.


“The percentage of young lawyers without a long-term, full-time position is increasing,” said Rosenberg. “In addition, greater time demands on lawyers translates to less time for bar association activities.”

According to Rosenberg, this environment led him and the other BLS leaders to emphasize the importance for the Section of making people aware of the many benefits currently offered by BLS. And, even more important, for BLS to continue to offer high quality content in a format or mode of delivery that is easy to access, such as its eMagazine Business Law Today and the Section’s premier online programs In the Know and Business Law Basics.

Rosenberg’s year has focused on several initiatives for the Section including:

  • Expanding the Section’s global network of business law professionals (holding the BLS Spring meeting in Montréal);
  • Improving the Section’s valuable member benefits and services, with a view to being increasingly relevant to business law professionals; and
  • Offering a wide variety of benefits meant to appeal to different segments within the business law market. 

These initiatives, in turn, have resulted in solid, impressive results.

“During William’s year, attendance for Business Law Basics has averaged nearly 1,000 participants for every program and In the Know attendance is averaging over 850,” said Jeff Kelton, BLS membership and marketing specialist. “This has been very impressive and the continued development of quality programming on an array of topic areas has been a priority throughout William’s year.”

Rosenberg’s year has also produced a veritable wealth of content for BLS members. The number of BLS books has doubled over the previous year and the number of Business Law Today articles has increased by 100 percent.

“High quality content, speaking and publishing opportunities, CLE, practice-specific committees are areas in which the Section continues to distinguish itself from other legal and professional associations and service providers,” said Rosenberg.

Leader and Colleague

Serving as BLS Chair requires working with a diverse and talented group of members and building consensus on Section initiatives, as well as motiving members who serve on committees and leadership positions. William has shown these characteristics to be among his strengths.

“It has been a pleasure working with William over the past year,” said Vicki O. Tucker, Hunton & Williams LLP and BLS Secretary. “His serious, measured and thoughtful approach to any question belies his energy and delightful sense of humor. William orchestrated the Section's fabulous Spring Meeting in Montréal, and his attention to even the smallest detail made it a tremendous success. He has been an inspiring leader.”

What are the characteristics of a successful chair? According to William D. Johnston, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP and BLS Chair-Elect, one vital characteristic is being a visionary.

"William has been an outstanding chair of our Section. Of special note, in my view, has been his emphasis on attracting, retaining, and promoting in-house counsel as members and leaders. It has been a privilege and pleasure to partner with William this past year, and I look forward to his sage, good-humored advice in the year to come,” said Johnston.

And, of course, the one necessary requisite for the Chair is a sense of humor—and a sense of fun.

“William has done a fantastic job as chair of the Section this year. When issues have arisen, He has been excellent at cutting to the heart of the matter and addressing those issues squarely,” said Christopher Rockers, Husch Blackwell and BLS Vice-Chair. “His effective leadership approach and his dry sense of humor have made him an absolute joy to work with.”

Whether it be increased content and programming or a heightened commitment to BLS members (not to mention having fun with BLS members), the accomplishments of William Rosenberg are a testament to his professionalism and commitment to BLS.

Richard G. Paszkiet