July 25, 2017

Statement of ABA President Linda A. Klein Re: The passing of former ABA president David Brink

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2017 - The American Bar Association is saddened by the passing of former ABA president David Brink and expresses its sympathies to his family and many friends.

Brink was an active member of the ABA and served as its 105th president (1981-82). He was 97. As ABA president, he defended the rule of law throughout the world by championing the Human Rights Trial Observer programs that helped monitor legal proceedings in other countries to promote fairness. He is remembered as the” Father of the ABA’s goal to Advance the Rule of Law Throughout the World” — which led to the ABA’s extensive international programs to assist newly free or developing nations with democratic forms of government, independent judicial systems and human rights, civil rights and international trade.

He protected the independence of the judiciary, campaigning against bills that would restrict court power in cases involving controversial social issues such as mandatory busing. Brink also was an advocate for pro bono delivery of legal services and successfully halted federal efforts to eliminate or diminish the Legal Services Corporation. He was an early advocate of mandatory Continuing Legal Education for lawyers, Alternative Dispute Resolution and probate trust law reform.

Brink was a pioneering advocate for lawyer assistance programs, serving on the ABA Standing Committee on Substance Abuse and on the Advisory Committee to the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs, which he played a role in creating. In the past several months, he contributed an endorsement to an upcoming ABA report on lawyer well-being. In his home state of Minnesota, he was a board member of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, which offers help to lawyers with stress, mental health and substance abuse challenges.

In addition to his ABA work, Brink was a retired partner of Dorsey and Whitney, where he was widely recognized as a leader in the field of trusts and estates. He also served as president of the Hennepin County Bar Association and the Minnesota State Bar Association. Brink worked as a code breaker during World War II and later in life wrote and taught poetry, publishing a book of poems titled “Beyond the Delta.”

Brink was a trusted advisor and impassioned advocate for the rule of law around the world. He devoted his life to issues of fairness and equal justice in far-off lands and in his own community. He will be greatly missed by us all.

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