Sep 23, 2015

'National treasure' Al Simpson honored at Wyoming attorneys' gathering

Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson was honored by the Wyoming State Bar's outgoing president earlier this month as a “great Wyoming lawyer and a national treasure” and “a true rock star”.

Immediate Past President Brad Bonner of Cody presented Simpson with the “President’s Award” at the bar's annual gathering, held Sept. 9-11 in Jackson. Bonner picked Simpson because of the special impact Simpson has had on his life, his nearly six decades as a Wyoming lawyer and his extraordinary public service to the state and nation, among other reasons.

Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson
“I'm very lucky to be able to present this award to a very dear friend who also has been my mentor for a professional lifetime,” Bonner said in his remarks.

He recalled getting seriously burned at a college kegger in 1986 — and getting an unexpected call from Simpson in Washington while he recovered.

“It was a pretty cool call to receive at a time when I could really use it,” Bonner said. “Somehow, he delivered the message that he could identify with a Park County boy drinking too much and getting in trouble.”

The then-Senate Minority Whip invited Bonner to join his staff a year later.

“I had a front-row seat to what it really meant to be a statesman,” said Bonner, a Powell native. “I saw first-hand the value of standing for principle when it matters, but also the critical importance of being able to reach across the aisle and find common ground.”

One of the lessons was the Simpson mantra that “‘Compromise’ is not a dirty word.”

“It was the best mediation training I’ve ever received,” Bonner said. “And how much do we yearn today for more who would represent us like that?”

Simpson is a partner in the law firm of Simpson, Kepler & Edwards, the Cody, Wyoming, division of Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, P.C. and has been a member of the bar since 1958.

Bonner, of Bonner Law Firm and Yellowstone Mediation, is currently one of Simpson’s neighbors in Cody.

Another Cody attorney, Jodie Thompson, was also recognized at the lawyers' gathering.

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