WASHINGTON, May 9, 2017 - The American Bar Association is deeply saddened by the passing of former ABA president Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III and expresses its sympathies to his family and many friends.
Bill was an active member of the ABA for more than 35 years and served in numerous leadership positions, including as 135th President (2011-12), as Treasurer (2005-08) and as a member of the Board of Governors for 10 years. Robinson also served more than 30 years in the ABA House of Delegates, and nine years as a Kentucky State Delegate. He was currently serving as chair of the Standing Committee of the American Judicial System.
Never too busy to help out a friend, Robinson was an indefatigable champion of the rule of law and an independent judiciary. He fought tirelessly to secure adequate court funding. During his term as ABA president, Robinson focused on the issue, pushing constantly for state courts to get the money they needed. By shining a bright public spotlight on the human consequences of underfunded courts – including delayed justice for individuals and long lines around courthouses – he is credited with convincing many state legislatures to address the issue.
Robinson was always positive and optimistic, evidenced by his trademark phrase “upward and onward,” which he often used to end his columns and messages.
In addition to his ABA work, Robinson was member-in-charge of the Florence, Ky., office of Frost Brown Todd LLC and had a distinguished legal career that spanned more than 40 years. He was recently named chairman of the National Judicial College Board of Trustees, the nation’s leading provider of education to judges across the United States and abroad. He was a life member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference; a Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and the International Society of Barristers and a Life Leadership Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He was a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates; the American Law Institute; International Association of Defense Counsel; Product Liability Advisory Council; and a past commissioner on the Uniform Law Commission.
Robinson had deep and proud roots in the state of Kentucky. He served as the 50th president of the Kentucky Bar Association (1985-86); president of the Kentucky Bar Foundation (1988-89); founding chair (1986-88) of the Kentucky Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Fund; and president of the National Caucus of State Bar Associations (1995-96). He was also on the boards of the American Inns of Court Foundation and the American Bar Foundation.
Bill will be missed by the entire ABA family and legal community not only for his fervent dedication to the law and its institutions, but also for his warm and welcoming manner and for his support and love of his wife Joan, his friends and family.
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