C. Clark Hodgson Jr., the former chairman of Philadelphia-based Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, died Monday following a lengthy illness. He was 73.
Hodgson had spent his entire 42-year legal career at Stradley Ronon, having joined his father, C. Clark Hodgson Sr., at the firm in 1965.
Hodgson, known to many of his colleagues as "Clark Jr.," served as chairman of Stradley Ronon from 1988 through 1993 but remained on the firm’s board of directors and the board’s management committee for several years after that.
Hodgson also chaired Stradley Ronon’s litigation department and, during his more than four decades at the firm, was involved in a number of significant cases.
In 1981, Hodgson successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of client Valley Forge Christian College in Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The justices in Valley Forge ruled 5-4 that the conveyance of a former military hospital to Valley Forge Christian College by the secretary of Health, Education and Welfare did not violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
It was at the arguments session for Valley Forge that Hodgson first met the woman who would eventually become his wife, Denise Daher Hodgson.
In 1987, Clark Hodgson successfully defended Shearson Lehman Brothers, at the time the nation’s second-largest brokerage firm, from a federal government suit alleging the firm had conspired to launder an illegal gambling ring’s profits.
A jury acquitted the brokerage firm of wrongdoing following a nearly-two-month trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
In 1996, Hodgson, on behalf of client Waste Management of Pennsylvania Inc., obtained a ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey invalidating as unconstitutional provisions of New Jersey’s Solid Waste Management Act that sought to eliminate the use of out-of-state disposal facilities.
In addition, Hodgson served for several years as special counsel to the state Senate and House of Representatives.
He also continued to work on high-profile cases up until his retirement.
In 2005, Hodgson successfully represented the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in Meehan v. Archdioceseof Philadelphia, in which the state Superior Court ultimately dismissed 20 lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, finding that repressed memory does not toll the two-year statute of limitations.
Hodgson retired from full-time practice in 2006 and became senior counsel at the firm, at which point he immersed himself in teaching seventh- and eighth-grade Latin classes at Regina Coeli Academy.
Stradley Ronon Chairman William R. Sasso told The Legal on Tuesday that Hodgson was "the consummate professional" in all aspects of his life.
"He took great pride in the work he did as a lawyer and the work he did in his private life," Sasso said. "He was always giving back to the community and he really helped establish what has become part of the firm’s culture: recognizing that you have to support efforts in the community and you have to give back."
Hodgson served on the boards of La Salle College High School, the Saint John Vianney Center, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Wissahickon Spring Water and the Attorneys’ Liability Assurance Society Ltd. (Bermuda).
Sasso said Hodgson was equally generous with his time when it came to his colleagues within the firm, calling him a "tremendous mentor."
"Clark was great at spending whatever time you needed or you wanted to provide you with assistance and guidance," Sasso said. "That’s unusual since that’s basically what we sell for a living — our time — but he felt his obligation was to pass on his wisdom."
Jeffrey M. Lindy, a Philadelphia solo lawyer who previously worked at Stradley Ronon, said Hodgson was instrumental in bringing him into the firm as well as eventually helping him to establish his solo practice.
Lindy said Hodgson continued to refer him cases after he left Stradley Ronon and the firm continues to send him work today.
Lindy, who had come to Stradley Ronon from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with no prior experience in the private sector, said Hodgson taught him about the business of law.
"He personified the old-fashioned lawyer: He was always at the firm, so he was always working," Lindy said.
But Hodgson’s definition of "work" extended far beyond handling cases for clients, according to Lindy.
"Work was counseling clients, work was counseling associates, work was knowing what was going on with associates’ lives, work was helping young lawyers — be they associates or young partners — develop into mature lawyers," Lindy said.
Sasso said Hodgson’s presence alone was enough to brighten Stradley Ronon’s work environment, recalling how his late colleague’s "booming laugh" served as assurance to anyone within earshot "that everything was OK and that the firm was doing well."
"He was incredibly warm, incredibly outgoing and had a terrific sense of humor," Sasso said. "Whenever he laughed it was as if he was sharing it with the entire firm on four floors of this building."
Hodgson is survived by his wife, Denise, and his children, Cathleen Hylton (Terry), Kristin, Elizabeth Armstrong (Ross) and Clark III, his brother, Stephen, and his sister, Helen Overlan.
Hodgson’s brother, Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Hodgson, passed away last year.
A funeral mass for Clark Hodgson will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, 1723 Race St., Philadelphia. It will be preceded by a viewing from 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. at the Basilica. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Hodgson’s memory can be made to either La Salle College High School, 8605 W. Cheltenham Ave., Wyndmoor, Pa., 19038 or to College of the Holy Cross, 1 College St., Worcester, Mass., 01610.