April 19, 2021 Feature

In Memoriam: W.B. Park, 1936–2021

Bill became Litigation’s exclusive artist. For almost 35 years, he drew every cover and all our inside images.

Steven J. Miller

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W.B. Park’s first cover for Litigation captured our daily professional reality and conveyed it with insight, warmth, and humor. One meek lawyer, standing alone, bespectacled, awash in mounds of documents, scrutinizes some unrevealing pages. Paper surrounds him. There is no exit. No colleagues; no clients; no adversaries; no judge; no courtroom. Trial is nowhere in sight, a mere fantasy.

“Discovery” was the theme of that issue. The art portrayed it perfectly.

It was 1977, a lifetime ago. We were the new, young flagship publication of the Section. In our early issues, publicly available etchings appeared on our covers and inside our pages. Then, along came “Discovery” and with that remarkable cover everything changed.

The profoundly significant discovery was Bill.

Illustration by Keith Witmer

Illustration by Keith Witmer

Bill became Litigation’s exclusive artist. For almost 35 years, he drew every cover and all our inside images. His sketches became Litigation’s signature. They defined our graphic look. It was a match made in heaven.

Bill and his high school sweetheart wife Evie attended our editorial board meetings and joined in our wide-ranging discussions. We built a deep and lasting friendship. Bill’s soft-spoken humility, humanity, and compassion included a wry sense of humor, which he displayed in person, in his drawings for Litigation, and in his over 60 cartoons that appeared in The New Yorker. Among other varied creative works, he also sketched his humor panel Off the Leash and wrote six children’s books.

Bill’s drawings were simple yet striking, filled with keen perception, wit, and irony. They illuminated our issue themes, conveying essential truths about us, our profession, and our lives as litigators, often through shrewd exaggeration. His magnificent use of color, and in particular of nuanced shades, enlivened our covers.

Bill’s work captivated our readers. Repeatedly, we heard that, receiving their mail, they would rush to see what Bill had drawn. That rang true, because it’s exactly how we on the editorial board felt too. Every time.

Bill’s work made us smile. It never disappointed. Timeless, each resonates today, just as when it first appeared. In his whimsical drawings, as in our grateful memories, Bill is with us forever.

Steven J. Miller