With a new year under way, The Am Law Daily offers a look back at some of leading lights of the legal industry who died in 2012. As these deaths were generally covered either by Am Law Daily sibling publications or other outlets, we’ve included links to their obituaries and other reference materials.
Roger Aaron, 69, February 11. Cancer claimed the life of Aaron, a veteran dealmaker and longtime partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, whose clients included auto giant General Motors and oil major Mobil. The protégé of Skadden M&A pioneer Joseph Flom, who died in 2011, Aaron headed the firm’s corporate practice for more than two decades during its growth into a global powerhouse.
Robert Bork, 85, December 19. A former federal judge and conservative legal stalwart, Bork saw his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court rejected in 1987. As a result of the contentious proceedings leading up to that rejection, Bork’s name become part of the nation’s political vocabulary. Tony Mauro, high court correspondent for sibling publication The National Law Journal, recalls an encounter with Bork, a former senior partner at Kirkland & Ellis whose legal legacy has also been further examined by others since his passing last month.
Reuben Clark Jr., 89, June 6. The World War II veteran and prominent urban renewal and tax lawyer was a founding partner of Washington, D.C.’s Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, which merged with top Boston-based shop Hale and Dorr in 2004 to become Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. Clark, who headed Wilmer’s London office from 1976 to 1979 before retiring from the firm in 1989, counted among his career highlights serving on a presidential commission dedicated to the issue of urban housing during the Lyndon Johnson administration and founding the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Edward Costikyan, 87, June 22. A Democratic party political adviser and reformer who was elected to the partnership at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in 1960, Costikyan is widely credited with helping to root out the remnants of the Tammany Hall machine that continued to maintain a corrupt stranglehold on New York City government. Costikyan, whose connections to the city’s political power structure were legendary, also somehow found time to write for New York magazine about the Big Apple’s prime movers-and-shakers during that turbulent time.
Russell "Toby" D’Oench III, 58, January 23. The great-great-grandson of W.R. Grace founder William Grace—who himself was elected New York City’s first Catholic mayor in 1880—D’Oench died earlier this year from complications related to cancer. A financial institutions partner at Skadden since 2000, D’Oench founded the North Star Fund in 1977. Since then, the nonprofit has distributed more than $35 million to almost 1,700 grassroots groups fighting for equality, economic justice, and peace.
Pasquale "Pat" DiQuinzio, 86, February 10. A former U.S. Supreme Court clerk, DiQuinzio worked at Dechert from 1956 to 1985. Despite being a partner at the firm and working on such high-profile matters as the Penn Central bankruptcy and establishment of the J. Paul Getty Trust, DiQuinzio chose to fly solo and practiced under his own name until 2001.
James Dolan, 73, May 20. A longtime partner at Steptoe & Johnson, Dolan left the firm in 1983 to become a vice president at the Union Pacific Railroad, which he helped guide through its $4 billion merger with South Pacific Railroad. Dolan became vice-chairman of Union Pacific in 2002 and retired from the company in 2004.
Robert Duncan, 82, November 2. Duncan—a federal judge in Ohio from 1974 to 1985 who previously served as an associate justice on the state’s supreme court—went on to become a partner at Jones Day, where he headed a task force on the hiring and retention of minorities and women. Duncan became general counsel of his alma mater The Ohio State University in 1992 and later served nine years on the school’s board of trustees.
Ryan Farley, 39, September 29. A once-promising litigator at Mayer Brown and Baker & Hostetler, Farley went on to serve briefly as a partner at LeClairRyan. The Am Law Daily detailed the tragic downward spiral of his legal career and personal life in November.
Robert Feldmeier, 46, May 6. Cancer claimed the life of Feldmeier, a Schiff Hardin litigation partner who also was a partner at Foley & Lardner, a firm he joined in 2001 and spent the next two years with after it acquired his previous home, Chicago’s Hopkins & Sutter.
Jerry Finkelstein, 96, November 28. The legendary Democratic power broker and New York–based newspaper mogul made his fortune with publications like sibling the New York Law Journal and The Hill. Prominent power lawyers like Cahill Gordon & Reindel’s Floyd Abrams, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel’s Gary Naftalis, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz’s Bernard Nussbaum were members of the “Finkelstein Group,” which would gather at the Yale Club and later Finkelstein’s apartment to smoke cigars and trade war stories.
Merrill Francis, 80, October 1. The former chair of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton’s finance and bankruptcy practice groups, Francis spent his entire legal career at the firm he joined in 1959, made partner at in 1965, and retired from in 2001. Among the many matters he handled during that time was the successful representation of a school and college district subcommittee in the Chapter 9 bankruptcy of Orange County, California, in the nineties.
John French, 79, August 18. The former antitrust partner at Faegre & Benson (which merged with Baker & Daniels in 2011) was once president of the Harvard Law Review in a class with future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Democratic presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. French, who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, joined Faegre in 1963, made partner in 1967, and went on to enjoy a 40-year career at the firm before retiring in 2003.
William Gaus, 67, September 21. A longtime labor and employment partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, Gaus met his wife at the firm, which he left with several former partners in 2004 to form San Francisco–based Dillingham & Murphy.
Eugene “Gene” Gozdecki, 63, March 4. The former Mayer Brown partner left the firm in 1982 to become a founding member of Chicago’s Gozdecki, Del Giudice, Americus & Farkas, where he served as general counsel to Wirtz Corp., a position that made him a top legal adviser to the company’s other holdings, such as the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks.
Simon Gourdine, 72, August 16. A longtime civil servant and sports industry pioneer, Gourdine was the first-ever general counsel for the National Basketball Association, where he later served as deputy commissioner. As The Am Law Daily reported last summer, Gourdine opted not to join a large firm throughout his diverse legal career.
Bernard "Bernie" Harrold, 87, October 22. A founding and name partner at Chicago’s Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon—now known as Edwards Wildman Palmer following a 2011 merger—the World War II veteran began his legal career as an antitrust associate at Kirkland, where he worked with a young Robert Bork (see above). Harrold helped launch Wildman Harrold in 1967.
Warren Haskin, 79, April 29. The former managing partner of Chicago-based Bell, Boyd & Lloyd, which was absorbed by K&L Gates in 2008, Haskin specialized in corporate, securities, and commercial law. He retired from Bell Boyd in 1998.
Michael Izzo Jr., 68, December 9. The sixth lawyer in the door at Cozen O’Connor in 1973, Izzo was a senior litigation partner at the now nearly-600-lawyer firm when he died from complications related to leukemia. Izzo, who helped settle the largest property damage fire case in the history of New Jersey, was also known for his love of singing.
Jay Jaffe, 68, November 21. The founder and CEO of Washington, D.C.–based law firm public relations shop Jaffe PR, an agency he founded in the late seventies, Jaffe rejected the label that he was the “father of legal marketing,” a moniker put forth by The American Lawyer, but remained proud of his contributions to the profession. Jaffe, who like most public relations mavens was not a lawyer but a former journalist, saw his name become synonymous with the way many large firms today carefully craft their public image. His work for now-defunct Howrey, particularly with the "Human Side of Genius" and "In Court Every Day" campaigns, has been lauded by big-firm PR maestros.
Frank Jones, 87, August 29. A longtime rainmaker at King & Spalding, Jones joined the firm as a partner in 1977 and gained a reputation as one of Georgia’s leading lawyers before his retirement in 2001. Even after stepping back from his practice, Jones, a Macon native and member of the Naval Reserve during World War II, remained active with the firm and as an adviser to Peach State politicians.
Nicholas Katzenbach, 90, May 8. The former aide to U.S. presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson served as U.S. attorney general during the height of the civil rights movement before moving on to become general counsel of IBM, a law professor, and partner at New Jersey’s Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti.
George Kern Jr., 86, November 27. The founder of the M&A practice at Sullivan & Cromwell during the late seventies, Kern helped his firm carve out a corner of an increasingly competitive transactional market. Along the way, he grabbed high-profile roles on a variety of transactions, including what was once the largest deal in U.S. history: Chevron’s $13.2 billion buy of Kern client Gulf Oil. Kern also took pride in the fact that several of his prominent M&A rivals from Skadden and Wachtell came to his defense when the SEC accused him of violating securities disclosure rules in 1988. Kern avoided sanctions, the SEC dropped efforts to punish him, and he retired from S&C in 1993.
John Kerr, 66, July 4. The former Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice partner, who was awarded a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Air Medal while serving in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1970, was known for his work representing The Post and Courier newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina. Kerr died last summer after a brief illness.
H. Warren Knight, 83, November 15. A former state court judge in California, Knight became a pioneer in the arbitration field by founding Santa Ana–based alternative dispute resolution company JAMS, which developed a method for resolving disputes in a forum intended to be cheaper and more efficient than litigation.
Harvey Lipton, 86, June 8. After joining the Hearst Corporation in 1951, Lipton was named general counsel of the publishing giant in 1966 and held the role until his retirement in 1990. Lipton also served as trustee of the trust established in the name of company founder William Randolph Hearst, as well as a member of Hearst’s board of directors, until his death.
Ronald Loeb, 79, April 14. After a 38-year career at Irell & Manella, Loeb, a tax expert, retired from the firm’s partnership in 1997 and two years later became general counsel at longtime consumer retail client Williams-Sonoma. One of Loeb’s five children is Daniel Loeb, a prominent hedge fund manager and founder of New York-based Third Point.
William "Bill" McBride, 67, December 23. The managing partner of Holland & Knight from 1992 to 2001, McBride, a family man and lifelong Democrat, left the firm and shocked many by beating former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to win the party’s 2002 gubernatorial nomination before losing to Republican Governor Jeb Bush. McBride was also the husband of Alex Sink, the 2010 Democratic candidate for governor in the Sunshine State, who lost an election to Republican Rick Scott by a razor-thin margin. McBride died from a heart attack just before Christmas while on holiday with his family.
George McClintock, 92, November 27. The onetime managing partner of Faegre & Benson, which became Faegre Baker Daniels in 2011, McClintock worked at the Minneapolis-based predecessor firm for 40 years. During that time, the World War II veteran guided Faegre through some tough times, including a Thanksgiving Day fire in 1982 that threatened the records of key clients.
James "Jim" Murphy, 52, October 17. Murphy, who died as the result of a stroke, served as a member of the finance practice at Thompson Coburn for more than 25 years and received a national award for client service early last year.
Gerard "Gerry" Nolting, 57, October 8. Nolting—a longtime litigation partner at Faegre & Benson (now Faegre Baker Daniels)—died as the result of a sudden heart attack. Nolting made a name for himself representing plaintiffs in litigation over the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and later became involved counseling clients seeking to pursue claims as a result of the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Russell Orme, 49, January 18. Two years after being named the managing partner of DLA Piper’s office in Birmingham, England, Orme died this year after a six-month battle with cancer. A team of lawyers and staffers at DLA cycled from Solihull, England, to Amsterdam in Orme’s memory last fall.
Robert Patterson Jr., 85, July 12. The chair of McGuireWoods from 1979 until 1989, Patterson was one of nine senior partners that formed the Richmond-based predecessor shop in 1966 that would eventually grow into today’s international firm. A World War II veteran who retired in 1999, Patterson represented his alma mater, the Virginia Military Institute, in its ultimately unsuccessful effort to remain a males-only institution, and won one of the largest antitrust settlements at the time for client Sergeants during the seventies.
John Payton, 65, March 22. An influential civil rights attorney and the sixth president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Payton also spent 20 years as a commercial litigation partner at a predecessor of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. He died following a brief illness.
Jeffrey Peck, 65, November 30. A litigation partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath, which he joined in 1999 after the firm acquired New Jersey–based general practice shop Shanley & Fisher, Peck died late this year after a long battle with cancer.
Barry Phillips Sr., 92, January 23. The former chairman of Kilpatrick, Cody, Rogers, McClatchey & Regenstein—a predecessor of what is now known as Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton—the native Georgian spent 43 years at the firm before retiring in 1997.
Thomas Puccio, 67, March 11. A former prosecutor who went on to become a partner at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy before branching out on his own in 1992, Puccio was once one of New York’s best-known criminal defense lawyers. In his 1995 memoir In the Name of the Law: Confessions of a Trial Lawyer, Puccio recalled some of the high-profile cases he took on, including the 1985 acquittal of Danish socialite Claus von Bulow on charges that he had murdered his wife. In later years, Puccio represented disbarred attorney Francis Morrissey in the Brooke Astor estate battle and dealt with a personal time-keeping fight and tiff with New York state tax officials.
John Quarles Jr., 77, October 29. A prominent environmental lawyer who assisted in the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, Quarles also headed the practice group at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a firm he chaired briefly in the 1990s and from which he retired in 2006.
Jerome Richter, 73, August 19. Before retiring in 2009, Richter was a senior partner at Blank Rome, where he headed the firm’s litigation and dispute resolution practice and worked closely with late founding partners Marvin Comisky and Edwin Rome to build the Philadelphia-based Am Law 100 shop into what it is today.
Warren Rudman, 82, November 19. The former U.S. senator from New Hampshire and a leading Republican party moderate, Rudman left Congress in 1993 and became a partner and later of counsel at Paul Weiss. Rudman famously used a glass of scotch to settle down lifelong friend and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter after the New Hampshire native became enraged at erroneous allegations lobbed against him during his 1990 confirmation hearings.
Arthur Seidel, 89, August 16. A dean of Philadelphia’s IP bar, Seidel retired from Drinker Biddle in 2009 after practicing patent law for 62 years. In an interview with the Philadelphia Business Journal upon his retirement three years ago, Seidel said he might well have become a scientist if he had been able to stop himself from dropping beakers of chemicals in college. Seidel was a founding partner of Philadelphia boutique Seidel, Gonda, Lavorgna & Monaco, which Drinker Biddle absorbed in 2001.
George Seward, 101, February 15. The honorary life president and founder of the International Bar Association also served as a founding and name partner of Seward & Kissel, a New York–based firm known for its hedge fund, private investment, and shipping industry expertise. Seward served as senior counsel at the firm until last year.
William Simon, 99, December 27, 2011. We’ve chosen to include here the founding partner of Howrey & Simon—the predecessor firm of Howrey, which dissolved in early 2011—because his death wasn’t announced until February 2012. One of the nation’s premier antitrust attorneys, Simon helped build Howrey into a global brand until.
Nellie Smith, 92, October 22. A trailblazer for women in the legal profession, Smith became the first female attorney ever hired at Reed Smith in 1943. She left the firm in 1952 after she became pregnant with her first child. For the rest of her career, which Smith continued as a solo practitioner until retiring at age 80, she set an example by balancing her professional obligations with her family life.
Arlen Specter, 82, October 14. The longtime Republican U.S. senator and Pennsylvania moderate who switched to the Democratic party late in life will be remembered for playing a key role in the confirmation hearings for multiple U.S. Supreme Court hopefuls. Specter, a former Philadelphia district attorney and Dechert partner from 1974 to 1979, is generally credited with creating the controversial single-bullet theory as a Warren Commission staffer to help explain the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Andrew Steinberg, 53, May 20. Complications from eye cancer claimed the life of Jones Day aviation industry expert and government regulations partner Andrew Steinberg. Steinberg was an associate general counsel at American Airlines—the carrier would later become a key client—before he helped craft a landmark "open skies" agreement while holding the federal government’s two most senior aviation positions from 2003 to 2008.
J. Christopher Stevens, 52, September 11. The veteran U.S. diplomat was slain last fall in Libya, where he was serving as ambassador to the war-torn nation in the wake of the revolution that deposed longtime dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi. The killing of Stevens, whose kindness touched many in the legal field during his brief time as an attorney, provoked a political firestorm in Washington, D.C., and forced the resignations of four officials at the U.S. State Department.
Myles Tanenbaum, 82, August 31. The former tax partner at now-defunct WolfBlock left the Philadelphia-based firm in 1970 to join real estate development firm Kravco, which Tanenbaum transformed into the ninth-largest shopping mall center company in the nation. A benchwarmer on his high school football team, Tanenbaum made a name for himself as the owner of the United States Football League’s Philadelphia Stars, which he helped build into a dominant franchise that won the first two titles in the upstart league’s history.
Ira Tiger, 76, June 2. An antitrust partner at Philadelphia’s Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis from 1968 to 2002 before shifting to a senior counsel role, Tiger represented clients in a variety of industries.
L. Neil Williams, 76, August 26. A well-regarded supporter of the arts in Atlanta and elsewhere, Williams was the so-called architect of what is now Alston & Bird, becoming the firm’s first managing partner in 1984. After retiring from Alston & Bird in 1996, Williams remained active in the community and maintained a busy schedule until he was felled by a heart attack last year while attending a meeting of the board of trustees for the endowment at Duke University, his alma mater.
Edwin Zimmerman, 88, October 6. An oriental rug aficionado and retired partner and senior counsel at Covington & Burling, Zimmerman grew up in New York City’s Garment District before going on to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. An antitrust expert, he also published a collection of poems called A Piercing Happiness in 2001.