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Daily Court Reporter - World Justice Project founder William Neukom awarded American Bar Association's ABA Medal


World Justice Project founder William Neukom awarded American Bar Association's ABA Medal

The ABA Medal, the American Bar Association’s highest honor, will be awarded to William H. Neukom, an international champion for justice who has devoted his life and career to public service, access to justice and advancing the rule of law.

Neukom will receive the ABA Medal during the General Assembly at 5 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, July 29 during the ABA’s virtual Annual Meeting. The ABA Medal recognizes exceptionally distinguished service by a lawyer or lawyers to a cause of American jurisprudence.

A former president of the American Bar Association, Neukom is the founder and chief executive officer of the World Justice Project (WJP), an organization devoted to promoting the rule of law throughout the world. He was the lead lawyer for Microsoft Corporation for nearly 25 years, managing its legal, government affairs and philanthropic activities. A retired partner in the Seattle office of the international law firm K&L Gates, he is a lecturer at Stanford Law School, where he teaches a seminar on the rule of law.

“Bill Neukom’s service to the legal profession and the public tell only part of his journey as a lawyer-statesperson,” ABA President Judy Perry Martinez said. “As founder of the World Justice Project, Bill has transformed how society thinks about, measures, and reports on the rule of law throughout the world. Yet some of his most valuable contributions came early in his career when he changed the lives of individuals he came to know through his work as their lawyer, when they needed him most.”

Through Neukom’s leadership, the WJP has become the preeminent global organization for measuring the rule of law through original research and data. It promotes justice, opportunity and peace wherever people are denied basic human rights to safety, freedom and justice because the rule of law in their land is weak or nonexistent.

“I am indebted to the American Bar Association for decades of opportunities to improve my skills as a lawyer and to be a part of its mission to defend liberty and deliver justice to a broad cross-section of the public," Neukom said.

In addition to leading a major corporation’s complex legal strategy, Neukom used his leadership role to support local access to justice efforts, particularly as local lawyers mobilized to support state and federal funding for civil legal services.

Neukom has a distinguished record of service to the ABA. While president in 2007-08, he established the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI). He has also chaired the ABA Young Lawyers Division, the Fund for Justice and Education and the Task Force on Goal VIII, which is the ABA’s commitment to eliminating bias and enhancing diversity. He served as secretary on the ABA Board of Governors and as Washington State Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. He currently serves as a special adviser to the ABA Center on Innovation.

Neukom is widely known in Seattle and Washington state as a respected advocate for civil rights, access to justice and pro bono service. While in private practice, he served as counsel to the Seattle Urban League, where he advocated for civil rights, including in a key Seattle busing case on behalf of African American schoolchildren in U.S. District Court. He authored and led an ABA amicus brief filed in Washington Supreme Court supporting the appeal of the criminal conviction of farmworker legal aid lawyer Michael Fox in a case that established access to justice rights for farmworkers in Washington state.

Neukom earned his A.B. from Dartmouth College and his LL.B. from Stanford University, and has received honorary degrees from Dartmouth College, Gonzaga University, the University of Puget Sound and the University of South Carolina.

The ABA Medal recognizes exceptionally distinguished service by a lawyer or lawyers to the cause of American jurisprudence and is given only in years when the ABA Board of Governors determines a nominee has provided exceptional and distinguished service to the law and the legal profession. Among previous recipients are legendary justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Felix Frankfurter, Thurgood Marshall, William J. Brennan Jr. and Sandra Day O’Connor. Other recipients include social justice activist Bryan Stevenson, Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski and former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

About the American Bar Association

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. View our privacy statement on line. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.

About the World Justice Project

The World Justice Project® (WJP) is an independent, multidisciplinary organization working to advance the rule of law worldwide.

Effective rule of law reduces corruption, combats poverty and disease, and protects people from injustices large and small. It is the foundation for communities of justice, opportunity, and peace—underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights.

Traditionally, the rule of law has been viewed as the domain of lawyers and judges. But everyday issues of safety, rights, justice, and governance affect us all; everyone is a stakeholder in the rule of law.

Based on this, WJP’s mutually reinforcing lines of business employ a multi-disciplinary approach through original research and data, an active and global network, and practical, locally led programs to advance the rule of law worldwide.

Founded by William H. Neukom in 2006 as a presidential initiative of the American Bar Association (ABA), and with the initial support of 21 other strategic partners, the World Justice Project transitioned into an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2009. Its offices are located in Washington DC, Seattle, Singapore, and Mexico City.

Date Published: Friday July 10, 2020


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World Justice Project founder William Neukom awarded American Bar Association's ABA Medal

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