BASF Press Release

BASF Statement on Passing of e. robert (bob) wallach

May 25, 2022, San Francisco—The Bay Area legal community lost an icon when e. robert (bob) wallach passed away at 88 on Sunday, May 15, 2022.  The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) sends its deepest sympathies and respects to ​the wallach family. 

The product of public schools and class valedictorian at Berkeley School of Law, wallach was recruited by Bruce Walkup of the prominent firm of Walkup Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger to try cases.  wallach spent more than 60 years in courtrooms trying hundreds to verdict.  Known as a master of the jury trial, his style and successes made him a legal legend. He served as BASF president in 1975, shortly before launching a run for the Democratic nomination for California Senator. During his term, wallach expanded BASF’s activities to include pro bono efforts in the arenas of criminal justice reform, civil litigation, juvenile court and the formation of focused undertakings in a multitude of San Francisco municipal challenges, including reorganization of the Courts. His essay on his service as president (honoring BASF’s 150th anniversary) appears here.  It is trademark bob, kind, generous and always pointing toward the achievements of others.  “He was a sophisticated man who carried himself in style while he championed the underdog at every stage of his career. He won gigantic judgments for accident victims while pouring himself into community service,” said current BASF President, Mary McNamara.  

He was a Senior Advocate of the American Board of Trial Advocates and was inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame in 2006 by the Litigation Section of the State Bar of California, a rare honor.  He also authored several works on trial practice and had a lifelong passion for teaching, serving as co-founder of the UC Hastings College of the Law Center for Trial and Appellate Advocacy, as well as holding a professorship and deanship at Hastings and teaching positions at the University of San Francisco School of Law, Golden Gate University School of Law and the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.   “He personally mentored generations of lawyers, imparting wisdom with his particular brand of wisdom, warmth and generosity,” said BASF Executive Director and General Counsel Yolanda Jackson.  “Many recall, decades after the fact, some small way in which he touched them or gave aid or assistance.”

wallach received two presidential appointments, one on the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy and the other, in 1986, as Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. The Bar Association of San Francisco mourns the passing of a great leader, a great lawyer and a great human being in e. bob wallach.  

The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of attorneys, law students, and legal professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF enjoys the support of more than 7,500 individuals, law firms, corporate legal departments, and law schools. BASF provides a collective voice for public advocacy, advances professional growth and education, and attempts to elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and respect in the practice of law.