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Akron attorney receives OSBA’s Professionalism Award

RICHARD WEINER
Legal News Reporter

Published: April 1, 2013

Akron attorney Frank Quirk, has been named recipient of the 2013 Ohio State Bar Association’s Eugene R. Weir Award for Ethics and Professionalism.

At the age of 80, Quirk’s special concentration in the field of legal ethics may surprise some people. “I put on seminars for lawyers and judges focused on the ethics of technology and lawyers. Technology is turning the practice of law upside down. Technology is the biggest issue that lawyers face right now.”

Quirk is the head of The University of Akron School of Law Joseph G. Miller and William C. Becker Center for Professional Responsibility.

“I feel very, very honored to receive this award,” said Quirk, “especially when I see which other people have received it. In a way, is the recognition of a career.”

The award will be given to Quirk at the association’s annual convention in Cleveland. The Weir Award recognizes exceptional professional responsibility among Ohio lawyers.

The Weir Award was established by the OSBA in 1998, in honor of the memory of Eugene R. Weir, who championed improvements in lawyer regulation and strongly advocated for professionalism and legal ethics. Each year this award is given to one attorney who has worked to promote and uphold legal professionalism and ethics.

Quirk, who has headed the Miller-Becker Center for nine years, is also of counsel at Brouse McDowell, having spent his legal career at that firm, following his receiving his undergraduate and law degrees from The Ohio State University.

In his career, Quirk said that he knew both William Becker and Eugene Weir.

“There is some symmetry in my receiving this award,” he said. “Bill Becker is the only other Akron lawyer to receive it.” Quirk served on the OSBA ethics committee with Weir many years ago, as well, he said.

Quirk actually co-directs the Miller-Becker center with Akron professor John Sahl, who is officially the faculty director. Quirk said that the two get along very well, and that each of their skills complements the other’s.

“I have really enjoyed working at Miller-Becker,” he said.

Five years ago, he said, “we couldn’t have imagined where we are now technologically. And now, we don’t know where we will be in five years. Legal technology is evolving so fast that trying to get a handle on it is shooting at a moving target.”

His particular focus is on social networks (macro) and metadata/e-discovery issues (micro). He takes some glee in saying that he will often know more about legal technology at a seminar than attorneys “half my age. I talk to them about metadata, and only half of them know what it is—even though metadata is in the Rules of Evidence.”

His signature seminar addresses both of those issues in two different parts. “I do about a dozen to 15 seminars a year,” he said, both locally and as far away as Florida and Texas.

Quirk’s interest in legal technology stretches back to the beginning, and into the present. He was, he said, the first lawyer at Brouse to own a desktop computer (the first Mac). Like people a third of his age, he has Netflix, satellite car radio, and an iPad. He gave up his smartphone because his iPad does everything a smartphone does except make phone calls, he said—although he is very interested in the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S IV.

He is also interested in all aspects of attorney ethics and discipline, in his position with Miller-Becker, and throughout his career. “I was on the state grievance committee for years,” he said.

The center presents an annual program in conjunction with the Ohio Supreme Court for all attorneys who are involved in the state disciplinary process.

Ohio, he said, “has the only decentralized disciplinary process in the country. There are 34 central grievance committees including the Supreme Court itself. Everyone who works on those committees is a volunteer (except the Supreme Court disciplinary staff). We do a program for them that gets statewide attendance, and which fills up in a day.”

Quirk’s latest project at the Miller-Becker Center will be a symposium, “Navigating the Practice of Law in the Wake of Ethics 20/20,” to be held at the center April 4 and 5.


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