John Wester Wins Citizen Lawyer AwardPDF
Robinson Bradshaw litigator John R. Wester is a 2021 recipient of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Citizen Lawyer Award. The NCBA established the Citizen Lawyer Award to recognize and thank lawyers who, in addition to their legal work, exemplify the ideals of a citizen lawyer by volunteering their time for worthy community or civic causes to improve the quality of life of those in their local or statewide communities.
Wester has committed his time and talents to an expansive roster of community organizations over his career. His history of service includes the Legal Aid of North Carolina and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont’s Access to Justice Council, the Higher Education Works board of directors, the Lynnwood Foundation board of directors, the North Carolina Museum of History board of directors, the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center board of directors and the Duke Law School board of visitors. Wester has also chaired the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County.
Another focus of Wester’s leadership and service is the legal profession. He served as president of the North Carolina Bar Association and North Carolina Bar Foundation, and as North Carolina chair of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has been a member of the North Carolina Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism and the Chief Justice’s Commission on the North Carolina Business Court.
Wester is a devoted advocate for an independent judiciary. He is the inaugural chair of the American College of Trial Lawyers’ General Committee for Judicial Independence, which leads the College’s efforts in defending the judiciary from attacks and threats and promoting its independence.
Spending his full career at Robinson Bradshaw, Wester tries cases and argues appeals in complex civil litigation, prosecuting and defending cases in state and federal courts, including numerous class actions. Two of Wester’s cases have reached the U.S. Supreme Court, including Hyatt v. Shalala, a nearly 20-year pro bono case in which Wester and his colleagues won new disability hearings under new standards for a class of nearly 150,000 North Carolinians. Outside his wheelhouse of business litigation, Wester has brought and defended cases advancing state and federal constitutional issues. He was inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1994.
Wester attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead Scholar before earning his law degree with high honors from Duke University, where he was an editor of the Duke Law Journal and a member of the Order of the Coif.