University of Denver

IAALS Advances Justice with Bill Rossbach

Founding Executive Director

IAALS simply would not be what it is without the support of our partners and friends. They are essential to our efforts and hail from a wide range of backgrounds, viewpoints, and sectors. Every month, IAALS will shine the spotlight on one such person and take you behind the scenes for a lighthearted glimpse into those upon whose guidance and support we rely. Together we are advancing justice.

William A. Rossbach, Principal and Owner, Rossbach Law PC

Bill came to IAALS as a representative of the American Association for Justice. I think initially he was a bit skeptical about our work and our mission. Over time, Bill has become a friend and a trusted colleague. He is a Yale grad who came West in the '70s, and attended Law school in Montana and then set up shop in Missoula. He has developed a national practice, but without losing track of his roots. He is entrepreneurial, visionary, and practical. Remember the scene in River Runs Through It where Brad Pitt is snapping and dancing the fishing line over the river? That reminds me of Bill—feet on the ground (or in the Montana river), rod skyward, and line arcing toward some purposeful destination.

Thank you, Bill, for your artful purpose and for your collegiality.

Recently, we caught up with Bill to bring you our latest Partner Profile.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? I am not a person who believes there needs to be a perfect anything. The happiness I seek and find is most often the process and the path, not some perfect ending.

What is the trait you most admire in others? Integrity, being true to your principles, standing up for them—while being open and reasonable and considerate of the views of others. People with those characteristics, no matter what their substantive views, deserve the most respect. It has been so many decades since I read Profiles in Courage I cannot remember well the people described or what they did, but I have never forgotten the principal theme of standing up and speaking the truth to power, despite the potential consequences.

Thinking about historical figures and heroes, I admire and respect too many to name, but integrity with grit are the ones who make the list. Maybe grit, or some quiet tenacity, is the other factor that matters. I often find that those who are most consistently successful are not always the most brilliant or creative, but those who show up, those who can be counted on, relied on, and trusted.

What is your greatest extravagance? I am a “gearhead.” Whatever passion I am pursuing, mountain climbing, cooking, biking, or boating; whatever even mundane chore I am pursuing, yard work, googling, etc.; I want to have high quality tools—not the most expensive or the most celebrated, but the ones that do the job well and, if cared for, will do it well forever. I would still be using my 40-year-old cameras if I had not changed to digital 10 years ago. My mantra, coming from my dad, and reiterated by a famous '60s comic book character: “Get the right tool for the job.”

Who is/are your favorite author(s) and why? I do not have any favorite authors but read almost constantly—and all over the place. I can get lost for hours reading scientific journals and love books using science to look at how the world works, like Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, but when I want or need to chill, I consume police procedurals and spy stories from authors around the world.

What people, places, or things are you passionate about? I love to travel and see and learn about new places and people—particularly old cities and even older archeological sites. But I am most passionate about—and most at home in—mountains and the rivers and lakes fed by them. Water and gravity.

What is it about IAALS that inspires your involvement and support? I came to IAALS to be part of the Rule One Symposium and discovered that IAALS is much more than a forum for the rules of civil procedure. IAALS looks at and takes deep dives into all aspects of the legal system, from justice for self-represented litigants in economic disputes and low-income dissolutions to use of digital and internet platforms for marketing and matching lawyers and clients. As a person with a deep interest in science and data analysis, IAALS impresses me with its commitment to finding ways to develop and use data and not just rely on anecdote.

Mostly, I am proud and feel privileged and honored to be a member of the IAALS Board of Advisors because of the way IAALS works. IAALS has a unique role as “neutrals” in bringing together—convening— open minded, fair, knowledgeable, and committed people from all sides of an issue to find common ground and develop pathways to improve the American legal system and, most importantly, to provide just, speedy, and inexpensive access to justice. This is the genius and the DNA of IAALS.