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Marcil, McLean honored by law group

FARGO — William C. Marcil, chairman of Forum Communications Co., and Fargo attorney Ron McLean were feted Friday morning at a breakfast hosted by the State Bar Association of North Dakota.

Marcil was given the Liberty Bell Award, the bar’s highest honor for someone who’s not a lawyer, and McLean received the Distinguished Service Award, the bar’s greatest honor for a lawyer.

Attorney Jack McDonald presented the Liberty Bell Award, saying Marcil, The Forum’s former publisher, “has been a consistent supporter of the rule of law of the justice system in North Dakota, has been a stronger supporter of civil rights for all its citizens and, most important, a supporter of open meetings and open records.”

Marcil began his newspaper career in 1961 at The Forum as a retail advertising salesman, and he eventually became president and publisher in 1969 after his father-in-law, Norman D. Black Jr., died. In 2010, after more than 40 years as publisher, Marcil turned the role over to his son, Bill Jr.

Marcil has stayed on as chairman of Forum Communications, which owns about 30 daily and weekly community newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin, along with radio and TV stations, commercial printing properties and Forum News Service.

“It’s our responsibility to protect the people’s right to know,” Marcil said in accepting the award at the Avalon Events Center in downtown Fargo. “We’re going to continue that effort, and we think it’s important that we represent the people.”

In presenting the Distinguished Service Award, attorney Duane Lillehaug said McLean, who tries civil cases, is a skilled lawyer whom his colleagues trust and admire.

“When other lawyers find themselves having difficulties, they turn to him for advice and for guidance and representation,” Lillehaug said.

McLean, who has practiced law for almost 39 years, said his career has been a happy one.

“I’m one of the rare lawyers who really loves what I do,” he said.