Bill Sankbeil: Cook-Friedman Civility Award
Posted by Orrin Woodward on June 26, 2012
William “Bill” Sankbeil, my good friend and legal counsel, is not just another lawyer. Without exaggeration, I can say his advice, strategy, and encouragement has been pivotal to me personally and professionally. When I first met him, I sensed right away that he was honest, hard-working, and possessed a top legal mind. Now, after working with him for five years, his consistent professionalism and competency has only deepened my respect.
Essentially, what separates Bill is his willingness to go the extra mile for his clients. Indeed, I remember the first week I met him, apologizing for having to call him at his lake house in Northern Michigan. He ended up working most of the weekend on an urgent matter without complaint. I wasn’t just impressed; I was blown away. Think about it. Here is one of the perennial “Who’s Who” top legal counsels dropping his weekend plans to help out a new client he hardly knows. Over time, I realized this high-level of personalized service was standard operating procedure for Bill.
Predictably, a person cannot sow into others lives for multiple decades like Bill has without reaping a bountiful harvest in return. Bill Sankbeil is reaping that harvest and recently received the much-deserved prestigious Cook-Friedman Civility Award. According to the Federal Bar Association (FBA) in the Eastern District of Michigan:
This award will be called the Julian Abele Cook, Jr.- Bernard A. Friedman FBA Civility Award, in recognition of the dedication to civility of two outstanding jurists: former Chief Judge Julian Abele Cook, Jr., who, in 1998, constituted the first Civility Committee in the Eastern District of Michigan and fostered the implementation of the Court’s Civility Principles; and Chief Judge Bernard A. Friedman who formed the Court’s second Civility Committee in 2007, and fostered the implementation of the Eastern District’s “Lawyer’s Commitment of Professional Civility.”
The Julian Abele Cook, Jr. – Bernard A. Friedman FBA Civility Award shall be awarded yearly at the Chapter’s Annual Dinner.
In selecting an attorney to receive the award, the following criteria shall be utilized:
1. The attorney has been significantly engaged in the practice of civil law;
2. The attorney demonstrates the highest levels of legal competency and Professionalism;
3. The attorney’s conduct is in accordance with the highest standards of professional integrity and personal courtesy as set forth in the Civility Principles of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan;
4. The attorney has demonstrated, while fulfilling the fundamental duty to represent clients vigorously, a mindfulness of the equally important obligation to the administration of justice, which is a truth-seeking process designed to resolve human and societal problems in a rational, peaceful and efficient manner; and
5. The attorney is guided by a fundamental sense of dignity, decency, candor and fair play.
This award is a fitting capstone for the Bill’s prolific career of character-centered service to numerous firms and individuals. It is added to his already impressive list of accomplishments documented below:
Mr. Sankbeil is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and served as the Chair of the Michigan State Committee (2002-2004). He is listed in the Bet the Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation and Antitrust Law categories in the “Best Lawyers in America” (in all editions since its inception), “Chambers USA – America’s Leading Lawyers for Business”, and in “Michigan Super Lawyers”. He is also a Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, a former President of the Wayne State Law Alumni Association (1985-1987), is currently serving on the Executive Committee, Board of Visitors Wayne State University Law School. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and served as the Chairperson, Antitrust Law Section in 1981-1982 and was a member of the Mediation Rule Committee, appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court in 1994. He is a member of the American Bar Association and served as a Council member of the Antitrust Law Section from 1992-1995, was Vice Chair of the Antitrust Law Section in 1995-1996, Chaired or was Vice Chair of various other committees, and served on numerous other task forces. Mr. Sankbeil is also a member of the Litigation Section. He is listed in “An International Who’s Who of Competition Lawyers” and in “A Guide to the World’s Leading Competition and Antitrust Lawyers”. Mr. Sankbeil has been a speaker at numerous seminars and programs concerning various aspects of litigating complex cases. Mr. Sankbeil is a graduate, cum laude, of Wayne State University Law School. He received his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University.
For me, no matter how impressive Bill’s awards are, what I am most impressed with is for forty-plus years, Bill practiced the legal profession with class and character. Few, in the rough and tumble legal atmosphere, can claim that victory. Congratulations Bill Sankbeil, your dignity, decency, and integrity are a model for the next-generation of barristers around the world.