Harvey Weitz was willing to make time for anybody who needed it, his longtime law partner says. ()
A lawyer’s lawyer. A professional of the highest standard. A respected leader in the community. A wonderful husband, father and citizen. The “Commodore” of the Savannah Bar Association’s annual boat ride.
All of those terms have been used appropriately to describe N. Harvey Weitz of Savannah since his sudden passing last Friday. But of the many hats he wore, the one mentioned most frequently in recent days by those who knew Harvey best is, simply, “friend.”
He was a friend to his hometown. Savannah-born and Savannah-raised, Harvey earned his law degree from his beloved University of Georgia and promptly returned home, spending most of his 49 years of law practice in the local firm now known as Weiner, Shearouse, Weitz, Greenberg & Shawe.
He was active in many local charitable organizations and was a member of the Jewish Educational Alliance and the Congregation B’nai B’rith synagogue. He also chaired the steering committee that led to the establishment of the Coastal Georgia office of the State Bar of Georgia in 2009, which is of tremendous benefit to bar members from Savannah and surrounding areas, and will continue to be for generations to come.
He was certainly a friend to the many clients he so ably represented over the past five decades. Speaking to the Savannah Morning News over the weekend, state bar Secretary Patrick T. O’Connor said, “Harvey was one of the finest lawyers to ever practice in the State of Georgia. He had a brilliant mind.”
Attorney Weitz also had considerable expertise in many practice areas. He successfully litigated a wide variety of complex civil cases, including wrongful death, medical malpractice, trademark violations and business litigation, along with various white-collar criminal cases involving inter alia, federal antitrust, tax evasion, insurance and bank fraud.
As his longtime law partner Stephen F. Greenberg was quoted in the newspaper article: “He was an absolute craftsman. Everyone who dealt with him had tremendous respect for him … he was always willing to make time for anybody who needed it.”
Chatham County State Court Senior Judge Ronald E. Ginsberg said, “He was a lawyer’s lawyer and a judge’s lawyer. He was a people’s lawyer. He was all of those things.”
Two years ago, the State Bar of Georgia honored Harvey with its Distinguished Service Award, the highest accolade it bestows on an individual. Then-State Bar President Kenneth L. Shigley said at the time, “Harvey Weitz has served with the utmost dedication, vigor and character throughout his exceptional career as a practitioner and leader of our bar. His exemplary career has in every way fulfilled both our duty as lawyers to help others and our high calling as stewards of the justice system.”
According to Justice Carol W. Hunstein of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Weitz “set the standard for the professional lawyer. He did everything a professional, committed lawyer should do. He represented his clients well.”
It is highly appropriate that Weitz also received the state bar’s Chief Justice Thomas O. Marshall Professionalism Award and the Savannah Bar’s Judge Frank Cheatham Professionalism Award.
Last but certainly not least, Harvey Weitz was a great friend to his fellow lawyers, the legal profession and the justice system in Georgia. He served on the State Bar of Georgia’s board of governors for 20 years and on its executive committee for 12 years. He chaired the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism and the Commission on Continuing Lawyer Competency. He was also a faculty member of the Georgia Trial Skills Clinic, a trustee of the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia, a Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers and a frequent lecturer on numerous topics, including ethics and professionalism.
As stated in his family-placed obituary, Harvey had a great love for food and wine. He also had a great talent as a host for so many bar social events, including but not limited to his legendary service as the Commodore of the aforementioned Savannah boat rides. As Justice Hunstein said, “He knew all the great places to eat. I don’t care what city we were in. With Harvey, you always ate at the best restaurant in town.”
Those of us who knew Harvey so well are still in somewhat of a state of disbelief that our friend is gone. Over time, we will be comforted by countless memories to cherish and the knowledge that our lives are brighter and better because of our friendship with attorney Harvey Weitz.
And thanks to his amazing lifetime of service, so is the future of the legal profession in the state of Georgia.
Patrise M. Perkins-Hooker of Atlanta BeltLine Inc. is president of the State Bar of Georgia.