Taking the helm of the world's largest professional organization is a familiar face in Greater Cincinnati.

Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, member-in-charge of Frost Brown Todd LLC's Northern Kentucky office, takes over as president-elect of the American Bar Association (ABA) this month, becoming president in 2011. At that point, he will begin the commute between the Tristate and Washington, D.C.

Robinson is a former ABA treasurer who has dedicated himself to his law practice (which is focused on business and tort litigation), volunteerism and regional development.

The lifelong Tristate resident also co-founded the Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (Tri-ED), but now, he will shift his focus to improving the legal community.

As he prepares to lead the ABA's more than 400,000 members in its mission to defend liberty and deliver justice as the national representative of the legal profession, Cincy asked:

Once you become president, what's your priority?

The primary focus of my leadership efforts will be the courts "” the adequate funding and preservation of our courts. We have three branches of government, and in order to validate and continue to benefit from the separation of powers, we have to adequately fund all three branches of government.

But the courts have no lobbyists. The courts have no one speaking for them in the legislature and in the executive branch, so the ABA is committed to explaining and garnering support for the adequate funding of our courts. It's key to our economy; it's key to our freedom; it's key to the exercise of our constitutional rights.

Some say the ABA is partisan. is that on your radar?

Certainly. We know that we are a bi-partisan organization. We are committed to being a bi-partisan organization, but there have been times in our history when decisions appear to some to be partisan. The ABA, as large an organization as it is, does not always make decisions that will be pleasing to everyone.

It's important for folks to understand the way we make our decisions.

The policy is set by a house of delegates, with over 560 members, drawn from communities all over the U.S. Resolutions to set policy are debated and then voted upon by the house. When the majority votes in favor, that becomes the policy of the ABA.

It is a democratic process. It is a representative process.

And it is a process that has stood us well over the test of time.

What is the role of the ABA in Supreme Court nominations?

It has been the role of the ABA going back to President Eisenhower to evaluate nominees for the federal bench. From Eisenhower to [before] George W. Bush (and now again under Obama), the process involved potential appointees being identified to the ABA, and then a committee of persons conducts a review.

At some point the ABA gives a rating (Not Qualified, Qualified and Highly Qualified). They're not always agreed with, but we are convinced that they are always objective. The rating goes to the president, who decides whether to still nominate or not nominate that individual.

It's a tremendously valuable process. I have had senators on both sides of the aisle tell me personally that while they might disagree with some evaluations, they would never vote on a nominee unless they had at least read and reviewed the report of the ABA.

And after you complete your ABA presidency?

My vision is to come back to Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and keep practicing law, representing others. For me, that's the greatest privilege of my life.