John R. Wester Honored with Duke Law Alumni Award



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March 2, 2017

John R. Wester received the 2017 Charles S. Rhyne Award for Professional Achievement from the Duke Law Alumni Association. Established in 1994, the award recognizes Duke Law graduates whose careers exemplify the highest standards of professionalism, personal integrity, and commitment to education or community service. Firm founder Russell M. Robinson II was the first recipient of this award.

Wester has spent his entire career with Robinson Bradshaw, concentrating his practice in the trials and appeals of complex business litigation. He has served as lead defense counsel in several noteworthy cases, including before the U.S. Supreme Court in Ford Motor v. EEOC, which established precedent for ending employer liability in employment discrimination cases. In Hyatt v. Shalala, Wester and Robinson Bradshaw prosecuted a class action for disabled citizens through its 20-year run, including before the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, approximately 150,000 North Carolinians won new disability hearings under new standards, and the Social Security Administration revised a national regulation on disability.

Wester has also brought and defended cases advancing state and federal constitutional issues. He served as lead counsel before the North Carolina Supreme Court for three North Carolina governors in a successful case against the General Assembly over constitutional separation of powers. Wester is now representing a national retailer in a nationwide class action contesting employment practices and defending a solar energy company developing solar farms across North Carolina.

Wester serves as chair of the Access to Justice Council for Legal Aid of North Carolina and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont. He is on the board of directors at the Lynnwood Foundation and the North Carolina Museum of History, as well as the board of visitors at Duke Law School. In addition, Wester is a member of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism.

Wester earned his law degree with high honors from Duke University as a member of the Order of the Coif, and he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a John Motley Morehead Scholar.

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