EDITOR'S NOTE: Bill Buckman died by his own hand in October 2014 after suffering some health setbacks. He was regarded as a conscientious criminal defense lawyer, and was identified in our research as one of the best criminal defense lawyers in Southern New Jersey. His Ten Leaders profile first appeared in 2004.
Bill Buckman is widely regarded as one of the most skillful and dedicated criminal-defense attorneys in the Southern New Jersey. What's more, the soft-spoken Buckman is in many respects the conscience of the criminal-defense bar in the state - he has long championed the fundamental rights of the individual in the face of government charges and power, and his list of career accomplishments and affiliations reflects that (see above). The 51-year-old Philadelphia native says it's partly a lifelong fascination with "the relationship between the individual and large organizations, particularly government" that spurred him to become a criminal-defense attorney. In college, where he was president of the student union and editor of the campus newspaper, he exhibited the leadership and sense of justice that's been a hallmark of his career. One of his first jobs, though, was as an associate with a divorce-law practice - "to say it wasn't my bag is an understatement." Later he took a post in the Gloucester County Public Defender's Office, where in 1985 he undertook one of the state's first capital murder cases. For six years he built a private practice focusing on criminal defense work - and in 1995, recruited by the State of Vermont, took a PD position in far-off Rutland, VT, for two years. "My wife and I looked at each other and agreed we might regret it if we didn't give it shot." In two years Buckman gained some valuable perspective - learning the strengths and shortcomings of various state court systems (Example: Defense attorney in Vermont can examine prospective jurors under so-called Voire Dire; in New Jersey they cannot - "It's a major problem with the current law.") Though they returned two years later, they keep their connections in Rutland and return regularly. Since then Buckman has built his practice in Moorestown, gaining a reputation as an extremely hard-working and committed defense attorney, respected by his peers and effective for his clients. By the late 90s, Buckman was part of a team of attorneys building the case against the New Jersey State Police for racial profiling of drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike. Partly because of that high-profile work, Buckman, in a notable reversal, represents some State Troopers in professional-conduct cases. He continues to handle an array of criminal-defense cases, from major felonies and drug cases to privacy-rights and civil-rights cases. Like most sole-practitioners Buckman is personally committed to every case - a hands-on style that's reassuring to clients. With a small staff that includes a full-time investigator, Buckman handles scores of cases each year, and spends several days a week in court. Away from work, Buckman continues to restore an antique tractor he acquired in Vermont
He lives with his wife and two children in nearby Cherry Hill.