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When McKenna & Cuneo partner Robert Carter Jr. answered a phone call from colleague Andrew Reidy on Dec. 26, 2001, the normally energetic father of two reported that he had spent the day in bed. But to Reidy, that wasn’t too alarming. “We had a really busy December last year,” he recalls. “We all felt lousy.” Carter went in for a physical in January and was given a clean bill of health, says Reidy. Still, the headaches and general malaise didn’t go away. Then, the gregarious insurance litigator, who made his way up to the managing partner spot at McKenna’s D.C. office at 33 due in large part to his ability to network anywhere at any time, “was unable to participate in client events” on a January trip to London, says Reidy. That raised red flags. Doctors soon found a brain tumor. In February, Carter was diagnosed as having a fast-growing glioblastoma that required aggressive treatment. The work he had dedicated his life to immediately stopped. “It was incredible because all of a sudden he put that part of his life on hold and focused on his family,” says his wife and college sweetheart, Karen. Still, she notes, “I don’t think he ever expected that he was not going to be going back.” To help keep his cases moving forward, Carter stayed in contact with Reidy. Most of his time was spent in treatment and with his family, though. “One day, I called up Karen and said, ‘You probably need a break,’ ” recalls Reidy, who took time that day to take Carter to his radiation treatment at Inova Fairfax Hospital. Despite his illness, Carter remained his affable self, says Reidy. “Bob was like a politician on inauguration night” at the hospital, says Reidy. Carter seemed to know and like everyone tending to him, and even convinced the doctors to bring Reidy back into the patient area so he could introduce Reidy and show him around. Despite doctors’ efforts, Carter, 37, died on Sept. 19. His longtime law partner Reidy, who had worked with him at Anderson Kill & Olick, and moved with him to McKenna, delivered the eulogy at the Sept. 24 funeral at St. Luke Catholic Church in McLean, Va. Carter’s acceptance of his illness and his vigor in attacking it helped his family, says Karen. A lifelong Roman Catholic who attended Mount St. Mary’s College in Maryland and Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, Carter “set an incredible example for his children to have faith in God.” Recently, when looking at Carter’s senior year picture in their college yearbook, Karen found a quote next to his picture that she felt summed up Carter’s life: “Have faith in God, believe in yourself, and dare to dream.” Even when dreaming, few imagine themselves making managing partner less than a year after moving from the associate ranks to the partnership. But, says Reidy, “nobody [who knew Carter] was really surprised by the fact of it.” A leading insurance recovery attorney, Carter was the kind of guy that everyone liked, say family and colleagues. By all accounts, he also loved to practice. After Carter’s death, Reidy was tasked with calling clients to inform them. “I had general counsels of companies crying,” says Reidy. “He really bonded with the people he represented.” Said Reidy at the eulogy: “Bob sued insurance companies and had to convince judges that the insurance companies should give up their money and pay on claims. . . . It is written somewhere that ‘In every insurance policy, the big print giveth and the small print taketh away.’ Bob fought hard to even the score.” Fighting that hard often meant long hours, which Carter seemed to relish, according to family and friends. “He would go home at night, put the kids down . . . and he would start reading,” says Reidy. Carter’s wife agrees, saying, “His bedside was full of periodicals and legal journals. Reading was his passion, but it was for business development.” The next day, says Reidy, “I’d come in at eight o’clock and I’d have eight messages” from Carter about what he’d read. Comparing Carter to Melanie Griffith’s character in “Working Girl,” who put together a business deal based on seemingly dichotomous articles that she had pieced together, Reidy explains, “He could see things that other lawyers couldn’t see.” Those left behind at the firm, now named McKenna Long & Aldridge, are trying to emulate that ability. After reading an article on claims against banks that allegedly profited from apartheid, Raymond Biagini, the current managing partner of McKenna’s D.C. office, says, “I sent Andrew [Reidy] an e-mail, ‘What are we doing on this front?’ But Andrew was already on top of it” and exploring if the claims had implications in the insurance recovery field. Adds Biagini: “It’ll probably take a combination of several people to do what he did because he was a whirling dervish.” But for all of the energy that Carter put into his practice and firm, Karen and their two boys — Trey, 8, and Jack, 6 — always came first. Says Karen: “The one thing that was paramount in his life was his time with his boys.”

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