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August 16, 2023

Statement of ABA President Mary Smith Re: The death of former ABA President Philip S. Anderson, Jr.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2023 — The American Bar Association mourns the passing of former president Philip S. Anderson, Jr., who died Tuesday at the age of 88 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Anderson, who was president of the ABA from 1998-99, was one of three Arkansans to serve in the role. The other two were Anderson’s father-in-law, Edward L. Wright in 1970-71, and U.M. Rose in 1901-02. Anderson also served in the ABA House of Delegates for 30 years, including as chair from 1992-94.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas and its law school, Anderson practiced law in Little Rock for nearly 60 years, handling many First Amendment cases. He was a member of the American Law Institute, serving on its governing council for three decades and was given the Outstanding Service Award by the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation in 2013.

The ABA has been fortunate over its history to have individuals dedicated to the legal profession and the rule of law who have selflessly served as its president. Phil Anderson was a practicing lawyer who set the bar high when it came to professionalism and ethics, devotion to the improvement of the American justice system and service to the organized bar.

Anderson’s daughters told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette that their father had a great sense of humor, always wore a bow tie except in court, kept a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his shirt pocket and every year on the Fourth of July gathered the family and read to them from the Federalist Papers. He was also a cartoonist who created the family Christmas card every year and even illustrated one of his daughter’s children’s books, “Eli the Elf.”

The ABA celebrates the interesting and wonderful life of Philip S. Anderson, Jr. and conveys its sympathies to his family and friends. An obituary can be viewed here.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.