Altman Weil Remembers Ward Bower
On September 28, 2016 we lost our partner and friend Ward Bower.
Ward Bower was a pioneer in the field of law firm management consulting. He joined Altman Weil in 1975 when the profession was in its infancy and built an unparalleled career over four decades as an advisor to hundreds of law firms, including some of the largest firms in the world. (Read the full statement...)
Following are tributes from Ward's partners and colleagues:
I have been privileged to be Ward’s business partner and friend for the past 32 years.
Ward was a man who played an important role in so many lives. He was a son, brother, spouse, father, uncle, colleague, advisor, teacher, mentor, fraternity brother, neighbor, and friend. In some ways, Ward never really understood the tremendous impact he had on each of us and on the legal and consulting professions. His years with us were too brief. I personally know he would never have been through contributing, in so many ways, to his family and friends.
Whatever your connection to Ward, he influenced you in profound ways. He influenced us through:
- His moral character –his clear views of right and wrong;
- His ability to create and nurture relationships;
- His incredible intellectual curiosity;
- His amazing ability to communicate;
- His broad life experiences;
- His personal and professional successes;
- His generosity; and, ultimately,
- His unbridled passion for life.
He will be greatly missed.
Ward Bower was my friend of over 40 years and my business partner of 35 years.
He was, to say the least, a baseball fanatic. He played four years in college and captained his team’s senior year. He never lost his enthusiasm for Bucknell baseball.
Therefore, I think it’s fitting to remember him in baseball terms. In my way of thinking he was a Triple Crown winner. In baseball the recipient of a Triple Crown has the highest batting average, the most runs batted in and the most home runs in any one year.
Ward was a Triple Crown winner in his profession year after year.
In the legal profession: He selflessly and tirelessly gave back to the profession for decades. His leadership in the ABA Law Practice Management section has been lauded by many members. He was co-chair of the International Bar Association Committee on Multidisciplinary Practices that did seminal work for the profession. He was an initial fellow in the College of Law Practice Management - a singular honor. Multiple state and local bars benefited from his work on their behalf.
For Altman Weil clients: There has been an enormous outpouring from current and past clients who speak glowingly of his qualities as a consultant. Many have said “He always told you what you needed to hear - not what you wanted to hear.” He is deemed by many to be the consummate trusted advisor. His integrity was without peer. Many referred to him as a friend and not just a consultant.
Among the Altman Weil family: His colleagues, current and alumni, remember him with great fondness and respect. His extraordinary generosity with his time was invaluable to many. He was eager to share his abundant knowledge and insights and was the consummate role model as a consultant
Clearly, he was a Triple Crown winner and this is how I will always remember my friend.
Everything I know about Ward and about those who knew him is consistent with my own experience having worked with him since 1990. At its core, the message is this:
Ward was not a consultant to law firms and the legal profession, he was the consultant to them; he blazed the trail for the rest of us; he was the pioneer; we were the settlers who followed behind.
He set the pace for the rest of us and gave us several stars by which to guide our lives – the need to give our best, at all times and at all costs; the need to always act with integrity and honesty and intellectual accuracy; the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity; the reminder that each of us is only as successful as our relationships with our families, siblings, spouses, children and grandchildren; and the reward of living a full life that is exhausting, yes, but that is filled with good humor and the ability to laugh, especially at ourselves.
Ward helped everyone who asked for help and anyone who didn’t but who needed it. One of the most significant pieces of good fortune in my life was to join Altman Weil and be assigned to the Newtown Square office next to his. Ward expected a lot but he gave more. He took me under his wing. He was a mentor, an example, a dear colleague and a friend. No matter what positions he played in sports, he was the quarterback of every endeavor in which he engaged, and was the consummate team player.
In everything that he did, Ward was admirable and admired, by me, and as said, by dozens and dozens of others throughout his life.
There always will be a hole in the lives of all of us who had the good luck of knowing Ward and being counted among his friends. Nothing can replace what he did and brought and gave. But the emptiness of the hole will be filled by the memories we have and cherish, and the passing of time that will make the pain and sorrow diminish, if only by a little bit.
I take comfort in those memories and my good fortune. Of all the people I might have known, I knew Ward. Everything that knowing him gave me will help sustain me for the rest of my life.
Ward was one of those guys who knew everything about everything. He was always willing to freely share what he knew, and able to do it in a way that didn't make you feel stupid. It was impossible to be more informed than Ward - on most any subject.
The thing I found so remarkable about Ward was that he seemed to know the answers to each client's problems by the end of the first meeting or phone call. We'd walk out or hang up, and he'd say "here's what we need to do," and he was always right on target. He had this ability to cut through everything, frame the problems, and prescribe solutions, in 500 words or less, with wisdom, insight, and perfect clarity.
When speaking at events or meeting with law firm partners, I was constantly being asked to say hello to Ward Bower. People held him in such high regard. I've heard so many wonderful stories out there about how Ward helped start new law firms, or saved them from collapse, or helped them execute a merger, or kept them from doing something regrettable, or created a strategy that paid off...
He was so sharp in his thinking, so well read, had a terrific memory, was tireless in his travels, and was such a pleasure to work with. Brilliant yet humble, accessible, personal. He made each trip enjoyable, memorable, and a valuable learning experience. He leaves quite a legacy, with us and with his many clients. I will miss him. I already do.
Eric A. Seeger
Ward was a great guy to work for. We made a good team! I was always so impressed by how organized he was. Most of his career he kept a very busy travel schedule, but was always able to respond to client inquiries, submit his expenses and time, catch up with me, and turnaround correspondence and reports in a very timely manner. He made it all look effortless.
He was a generous guy. A considerate guy. Always let me know he appreciated me. He was easy to talk to, took his time and explained assignments I didn’t understand. A great storyteller! I always grabbed a seat at Ward’s table at AW functions because he was a fun guy to be around!
I knew Ward as a consultant both at my time at Clifford Chance and Andersen Legal but I really got to know him following the collapse of Arthur Andersen when I was considering my next career options. He encouraged me to consider law firm consulting and even suggested that I should join Altman Weil as their London representative.
I duly set up Jomati Consultants in October 2002 and kept in close contact with Ward and his colleagues. We subsequently formed a strategic alliance with Altman Weil and Ward was my primary contact at Altman Weil. Initially we referred work to each other but as the relationship developed we more often worked together on joint projects which took us to many corners of the world and involved us in some of the most interesting and complex consultancy engagements ranging from the development of strategic plans, law firm mergers and law firm disputes. His great experience in this area was freely shared with me and not only was he a great colleague but a true mentor as I developed as a law firm consultant.
Barely a day went by without us exchanging emails or calls not just in relation to client matters but also in relation to politics and sport. He always tried to convert me to the virtues of American football and baseball and I in turn tried to explain the merits of cricket to him. He was a voracious reader across a broad spectrum ranging from history, politics, economics, biography and fiction so we had many lively conversations on our travels and especially in the Tiger Bar at the Princeton Club in New York.
He was respected and liked by his clients in equal measure many of whom considered him a personal friend. His judgement and discretion was second to none so law firm leaders knew that whatever secrets they told him would remain solely with him.
In addition to being a superb consultant he was a great family man and regularly updated me on the progress of his four sons including, most recently sending me many photographs of his two granddaughters. He was immensely proud of his entire family.
I and all of my colleagues at Jomati Consultants have lost a dear friend and colleague and will miss him dearly.
I was so fortunate to begin my consulting career working for the person who was truly the best in the business. Ward knew more about the legal industry than anyone I have ever met, and he was always so generous in sharing what he knew with me and with the others under his leadership.
Ward fully supported me in my professional growth, provided so many opportunities to work on interesting and exciting projects, encouraged and empowered me to do anything I set my mind to and coached and counseled me to make sure that my career continued to grow.
Ward also provided a stellar example of how to provide excellent service to clients. He was passionate about his clients and did everything he could to learn not just about their business but who they really were. He cared deeply about their successes and failures and devoted the same level of energy and enthusiasm to his large global clients as he did to the small and mid-sized firms he had worked with for decades.
We shared many travel war stories – some to amazing places and others we would rather forget, and Ward remained the ultimate road warrior with a stamina I could never dream to match.
What I will remember most about Ward is his deep love for his family and his immense pride in his sons. From visiting his son Miles at the Naval Academy with him, to hearing of Seth’s successes at my college alma mater, to the many stories about the boys that he shared over the years, it was a joy to see the father’s love with which he beamed.
It was an honor to know Ward. He will be deeply missed.
Marci Krufka Taylor
I first met Ward many years ago when he was consulting with Thompson Coburn and I was on the firm’s management committee. I then, and continued to have the upmost respect for Ward’s expertise and absolutely wonderful way about him. He was a master and I admired him.
Ward was the one who suggested I go to a Master Coaching Program and shortly thereafter got me involved in an Altman Weil client project on Leadership Development. I attribute where I am today to Ward and I will never forget him, his kindness, and his significant contributions to the legal profession.
Joan M. Newman
When I first joined the firm I quickly realized that Ward didn’t need my help with marketing -- everyone knew him and already wanted to work with him. Instead he helped me.
He was unfailingly generous with his time, helping me to understand the mysterious world of professional service firms and the complexity and nuance of the business of law. It was my great good fortune to have access to the brightest mind in the business for a 15-year-long conversation that never got old. Along the way we also talked about books and baseball and politics and everything else from the existential to the ridiculous.
Ward had a deep and wide-ranging intelligence and a seriousness of mind, but he was also a lot of fun. He was a star, but he was completely accessible. He had an extraordinary career, but he was more proud of his family than of any other accomplishment.
It was a pleasure to know him, and I will miss him enormously.