Tom Tew
Tom Tew (CANDACE WEST)

Services are set Thursday for Thomas Tew, co-founder of the Miami law firm Tew Cardenas, who died of pancreatic cancer. He was 73.

Tew, who founded the 18-lawyer litigation firm Tew Cardenas 25 years ago, specialized in securities law and frequently served as a receiver for the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Florida Department of Insurance.

Tew died Monday night at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami. A memorial ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday at Comber Hall at 1251 Palermo Ave. in Coral Gables.

Law partner Al Cardenas, a friend of Tew’s for three decades, remembered his partner of 22 years as a “lawyer’s lawyer.”

“No one loved the law and was more passionate about the practice but him,” Cardenas said. “Even in his last days when people choose to travel the world and do different things, Tom chose to come to the office and practice law. That was the center of his life. He was an intellectual giant, a fierce competitor in the courtroom and someone you did not want to be up against in a court of law.” 18-lawyer litigation firm

Tew was a member of the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission and a former member of the Third District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission.

His clients included the city of Miami, which he defended in an SEC proceeding alleging bond fraud, and the outside directors of FPL Group Inc. named in a derivative action seeking $60 million. Tew also served as the bankruptcy trustee for ESM Government Securities Inc., the largest failure of a government securities dealer in the nation’s history when it collapsed in 1985.

Akerman partner Michael Goldberg said he owes his career to Tew, who brought him to Florida in 1990 from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York. Goldberg’s office was next to Tew’s for four years, and Goldberg decided to become a receiver and specialize in Ponzi schemes after observing Tew.

“Tom was an exceptional lawyer,” Goldberg said. “The guy could sit down, look at a new file and in 10 minutes understand it completely. He was very, very bright. It’s a big loss for the legal community.”

Tew testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on insurance company insolvencies and testified five times before the U.S. House on securities and insurance fraud.

Law partner Jeffrey Tew said his brother had a caring side that he showed to few people and privately helped strangers financially. In one case, Thomas Tew got to know a waitress at a restaurant he frequented and discovered she was working her way through college. He funded her college education, and she wound up becoming a doctor.

“He was a great guy,” said Jeffrey Tew. “He helped so many lawyers with their careers. He had a very soft side, and he helped a lot of people with various things.”

Goldberg agreed, recalling how Thomas Tew invited him and his wife to stay at their home after Goldberg’s house was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew.

Tew’s other passions were University of Miami football and boxing. A graduate of the UM School of Law, Tew was a founder of the Golden Canes, an athletic booster club. He attended Dartmouth College as an undergraduate.

Tew opened a Miami gym, Biscayne Boxing, and helped form an intercollegiate boxing league in Florida, Jeffrey Tew said.

Thomas Tew previously worked for the Miami office of New York-based Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Underberg, Manley, Myerson & Casey.

He also was survived by his daughter, Kristina Tew.