Robert M. Carlson, a shareholder with the Butte, Montana, law firm of Corette Black Carlson & Mickelson, P.C., is president-elect of the American Bar Association and will become president of the 400,000-member organization in August 2018.
Carlson has served in many national and state bar leadership positions, including as president of the State Bar of Montana from 1993 to 1994. From 2012 to 2014, he was chair of the ABA’s policymaking House of Delegates, the association’s second-highest elected office. He has served two terms on the ABA Board of Governors and its Executive Committee, chairing its Executive Compensation Committee. Carlson has also served in the ABA House of Delegates as both Montana’s state bar delegate and state delegate and as a delegate at large. He is a life patron fellow and past state chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation and was a member of the Executive Council of the National Conference of Bar Presidents.
Carlson’s other previous ABA leadership positions include service as chair and member of the ABA Day in Washington Planning Committee, chair and member of the Standing Committee on Meetings and Travel, and member of the Standing Committee on Bar Activities and Services, Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, Council of the ABA Section of International Law, and co-chair of the ABA Section of Litigation’s ABA Resource Committee. He was Board of Governors liaison to the ABA Standing Committee for Bar Activities and Services, Dispute Resolution Section, and Commission on Homelessness and Poverty.
In addition to serving as president of the State Bar of Montana, Carlson has chaired the state bar’s Board of Trustees and, since 1995, has served as a member of the Montana Supreme Court’s Character and Fitness Commission. Since 1994, he has been a member of the University of Montana Law School’s Clinical Board of Visitors. Carlson has served as lawyer representative to the Federal District of Montana, as Montana co-chair of the Ninth Circuit’s Lawyer Representatives Coordinating Committee, and as chair of the state bar’s Ad Hoc Committee on Discipline.
Carlson’s other professional affiliations include the International Association of Defense Counsel, Defense Research Institute, Montana Defense Trial Lawyers Association, and former board member of the Montana Justice Foundation. He is also a former board member of the Butte Emergency Food Bank, past president and former board member of the Butte Exchange Club, former member and vice president of the Butte Uptown Association, and former board member of the University of Montana Alumni Association.
Carlson’s civil trial and mediation practice primarily involves insurance defense, products liability and insurance coverage. Before entering private practice, he was staff attorney for the Montana Department of Business Regulation and a law clerk for the Montana Supreme Court. He earned his B.A. with honors from the University of Montana and his J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law.