Wednesday, December 08, 2004


From our friends at Privacy and American Business - they devoted an entire issue to Ron, a member of their board

In 1974, I spoke at a conference on “The Public’s Right to Know in the Electronic Age.” I listened to a very bright young lawyer from Public Citizen also speak, had a chance to talk with him, and marked him down as someone to watch. Within a year, the newly-appointed Chair of the U.S. Privacy Protection Study Commission asked me who might serve well as the General Counsel of the Commission. I told him, “Ron Plesser is your man.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Ron was so taken with privacy as a legal, political, and social issue that he made it the centerpiece of his career, to privacy’s (and our society’s) great good fortune.

I, and all of us at P&AB, will deeply miss Ron’s intellectual and personal embrace. But we will treasure, and remember often, all that he did and meant to us.

– Alan Westin, P&AB

Ron’s accomplishments really can’t be overstated. He started out as a “Nader Raider”, doing FOIA and privacy litigation. In the mid-1970s, he was General Counsel of the Privacy Protection Study Commission. Ron made a single contribution to the PPSC’s extraordinary report. He has been lead counsel in numerous and important privacy cases. In the 1980s, Ron was an adjunct professor, teaching the constitutional law aspects of privacy at GW University Law School. In the early 1990s, Ron was a leader in the American Bar Association and for a time, Chair of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section. In the mid-1990s, Ron founded the Individual Reference Services Group and led many of the industry’s legislative and regulatory battles. Ron was a speaker and writer for Privacy & American Business and at virtually every important privacy forum. And, of course, Ron built one of the country’s most successful privacy practices at Piper Rudnick.

Not long ago, I was walking down one of the long corridors in the Russell Senate Office Building. Approaching me from the other end of the corridor came Ron with two of his clients in tow. As we passed, he enveloped me in a huge bear hug and announced to his startled clients, “This is my brother.” As usual, Ron was right. Writing this today, just a few hours after Ron’s death, you can’t convince me that I haven’t lost my brother.

– Bob Belair, P&AB & Oldaker, Biden & Belair

It’s hard to speak of Ron Plesser in the past tense when he was always so much a force looking toward the future both professionally and personally. There was never an event, a conference, or a workshop we were planning at P&AB, nor a P&AB issue we needed him to write for that he did not come up big with the right people talking about the next big thing; or the right topic to give our readers the heads up they’d get nowhere else, except for his special insights. “Tell me what you need, kid, and you’ve got it.” He was with us from our beginning and it will be hard trying to fill that role he always played so effortlessly and so generously.

– Lorrie Sherwood, P&AB

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