In Memoriam: Robert B. Webster, 55th President of the State Bar of Michigan


The State Bar of Michigan is mourning the loss of its 55th President Robert B. Webster, who died May 16 at the age of 81.

Admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1958, he received his undergraduate and legal education from the University of Michigan (A.B. 1955, J.D. 1957). He was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court in 1972, and was also a member of The Order of Barristers.

Mr. Webster was a former law clerk to Judge Ralph M. Freeman, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (1957-1959), and is a former 6th Circuit Oakland County judge (1973-1982, chief judge 1977). He also was a member of the Oakland County, Detroit Metropolitan, Federal, and American Bar Associations, and held the following positions in the State Bar of Michigan: commissioner (1982-1990); chair, Legislative Committee, Plain English Committee (1985-1986); vice president (1987-1988); president-elect (1988-1989); and president (1989-1990). In 1993, Mr. Webster received the Roberts P. Hudson Award for outstanding and unique service to and on behalf of the State Bar of Michigan, the legal profession, and public. The Hudson Award is considered the highest award conferred by the State Bar.

Current State Bar President Bruce Courtade expressed sadness at his passing. "From my earliest involvement with the Bar, Bob Webster epitomized what a bar leader ought to be: consummately professional, dedicated to equal access to justice for all, and a leader who never hesitated to take the time to show a new attorney how to get things done the right way. He was a good friend, a great role model and will be greatly missed."

State Bar Executive Director Janet Welch said, "From his contributions to the seminal work of the Commission on the Courts in the 21st Century to his long years of leadership on the Judicial Qualifications Committee, Bob Webster contributed immeasurably and tirelessly to his profession and to the improvement of the administration of justice in Michigan."

Mr. Webster was director of the American Judicature Society and National Commissioner on Uniform State Laws. He was also a member of the American Law Institute; a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a member of the House of Delegates; a member of the Michigan Bar Foundation; co-chair, Commission on the Courts in the 21st Century; member Judical Qualifications Committee; chair, State Officers Compensation Commission; member State Bar of Michigan Past Presidents Advisory Council; and fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers. Mr. Webster served as chair of the State Bar Committee on Civil Procedure, and as the chair of the Committee to Revise and Consolidate the Michigan Court Rules. He was a co-author of Michigan Court Rules Practice, Martin, Dean and Webster, West Publishing Company.

Mr. Webster specialized in civil litigation, family law, and alternative dispute resolution, including arbitration and mediation.

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