Site Navigation Page Content

Dean Emeritus Robert Walsh awarded national ABA award

Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law Robert K. Walsh of the Wake Forest University School of Law was awarded the Robert J. Kutak Award over the weekend at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco.Each year, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar gives its national award, the Robert J. Kutak Award, to the person who “meets the highest standard of professional responsibility and demonstrates substantial achievement towards increased understanding between legal education and the active practice of law.”

The award honors the late Robert J. Kutak, a distinguished member of the Section’s governing Council who died suddenly in 1983 after a remarkable career characterized by service to the public and the legal profession.

The award was presented to Dean Walsh at a reception and ceremony on Friday, Aug. 6. Among the more than 100 people in attendance at the ceremony were a number of North Carolinians including Judge Dave DeRamus, Allan B. Head (’69), executive director of the North Carolina Bar Association, N.C. Bar President Gene Pridgen (’78), Jim Fox, president-elect of the N.C. State Bar, and Dean Blake Morant.

Past winners of the Kutak Award have been practicing lawyers, academics, and judges, including Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006.

“This award is a humbling honor,” Walsh said. “It is very meaningful to me because of the man it honors, the wonderful achievements of its past recipients, and the source of the award, an organization for which I have the highest respect.”

Dean Walsh was also recently elected as an Honorary Academic Bencher of the Honorable Society of Inner Temple. The Inner Temple is one of the four Inns of Court in London.  Benchers are senior respected judges and practicing barristers of high achievement and constitute the governing body for each Inn.  Dean Walsh is only the second Bencher in the United States and the first Academic Bencher outside of the United Kingdom.

Walsh was dean of the Wake Forest University law school from 1989 to 2007 through a period of substantial growth in programs and prestige. He has served the legal profession in a great number of outside activities. He is a past chairperson of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which is the accrediting authority for all law schools as well as one of its two learned societies. He has chaired the Sections two major committees, the Accreditation Committee and the Standards Review Committee. He co-founded the ABA’s Seminar for New Law Deans, which was held at Wake Forest for its first decade. He is just completed a two-year term as the president of the American Inns of Court Foundation Board of Trustees, being the second non-judge president of the organization in its 30-year history. He also has been a board member of the National Association of Law Placement Foundation Board of Trustees and the ABA Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative Advisory Council.

Last year, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. appointed Walsh to a five-year term on the Federal Judicial Center Foundation Board. He has also been a vice president of the North Carolina Bar Association and a member of its Board of Governors.