William K. Weisenberg, assistant executive director for public affairs, government relations, and diversity initiatives for the Ohio State Bar Association, has been selected as the recipient of the 2013 National Association of Bar Executives (NABE) Bolton Award, the 2013 American Bar Association (ABA) Grassroots Advocacy Award and the 2013 Ohio Center for Law Related Education (OCLRE) Founders’ Award.
The Bolton Award, NABE’s highest accolade, is presented each year to a member who exhibits professionalism, character and integrity and who has demonstrated significant contributions to the organized bar and legal profession. Weisenberg will receive the NABE Bolton Award at the NABE Annual Meeting in San Francisco on Aug. 9. The award will be presented at a joint luncheon of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, the National Conference of Bar Foundations and NABE held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the ABA. NABE is an independent, voluntary association established to serve the management staff of bar associations and law-related organizations.
The ABA Grassroots Advocacy Award was presented to Weisenberg in April in Washington, D.C., at a Capitol Hill reception as part of ABA Day, that association’s annual effort to connect policymakers with constituents in the legal profession. The award recognizes Weisenberg’s advocacy on behalf of the justice system and the legal profession in Ohio and the nation’s capital.
The OCLRE Founders’ Award will be presented to Weisenberg during the 2013 OCLRE Law and Citizenship Conference on Sept. 23. The OCLRE Founders’ Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the ideals and growth of law-related education. Like the OCLRE founders, for whom this award is named, recipients are visionaries who have devoted their time and talent to develop and support programs that engage students in learning about and value the rule of law, democracy and, most importantly, the importance of civic responsibility. Past recipients have included volunteers, educators, attorneys and a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio—all of whom have been staunch supporters and advocates of civics and law-related education.
Weisenberg was selected for the OCLRE award in recognition of his longstanding commitment to the purpose of OCLRE, for his significant support in connecting OCLRE with the Ohio General Assembly, and for his collaborative efforts with the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio Attorney General's Office to secure adequate funding and expand programmatic opportunities.
“Bill Weisenberg, who we affectionately refer to as the Dean of the Ohio Statehouse, is indeed a national treasure,” said OSBA Immediate Past President Judge Patrick F. Fischer. “We here in Ohio know well of his skills, his accomplishments and his contributions. It is only fitting that we share him with the rest of the nation in recognizing the great American that he truly is.”
Hailing from New York, where he received his undergraduate degree from Syracuse University and his law degree from New York Law School, Weisenberg started his career in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare before his eventual shift to advocacy on law-related issues. Before his work with the OSBA, Weisenberg served as chief legal counsel for the Ohio House Judiciary Committee.
Described as “one of the most recognized and respected leaders of the legal profession working with the Ohio legislature,” Weisenberg has been repeatedly lauded for his professionalism, integrity, leadership and vision. His “outstanding service and dedication” to the legal profession has earned him the respect and admiration of colleagues throughout the country and in his adopted home state. The speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, supporting the nomination of Weisenberg for the Bolton Award, said that Weisenberg’s character has helped the OSBA cement its great reputation as an “honest broker” with the Ohio Statehouse.
Over the past three decades, Weisenberg has served NABE in many ways including as a member of several committees and task forces, as Governmental Relations Section Chair (1985-86), and as the NABE delegate to the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates (2006-2013). His work as the NABE delegate was credited as being “incredibly diligent in representing NABE’s interests at the national level.”
Weisenberg also has served the ABA on multiple committees and task forces. He was commended for his “unsurpassed vision and leadership” during his work as chair of the Standing Committee on Judicial Independence (2008-2011). Weisenberg has received many accolades for his service to the legal community, including the Ohio Bar Medal (2011), the OSBA’s highest honor.
”It is an honor to have served with lawyers, judges, legislators and members of the public in supporting access to justice and promoting a better understanding of our justice system,” Weisenberg said. “When we unite in order to provide justice for all, we are strong and we are mighty. To be part of such a coalition has truly been a privilege.”
Weisenberg has long promoted the role of lawyers in finding solutions to local and national public policy questions and has advocated on issues ranging from the rule of law to the independence of the judiciary.
“For more than three decades, Bill has brought national attention to issues Ohio cares about, including access to court and legal services,” ABA President Laurel G. Bellows said. “His efforts continue to benefit the legal profession and the justice system across the country.”