August 19, 2011 – Philadelphia, PA: With the sad news of his passing, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP honors the life and legacy of our colleague and friend, Jerome J. Shestack.
"Jerry lived his life according to the biblical command: Justice, justice, shall you pursue. It was the common thread that ran through his long and illustrious career," said David Smith, Chairman of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP. "He was a mentor to generations of Schnader lawyers, instilling in each his dedication to the well-being of our clients, his passion for the craft tradition, his respect for the rule of law and his commitment to pro bono. We will miss him greatly. I wish to express our deepest condolences to his wife, Marciarose, his children, Jonathan and Jennifer, his grandchildren and extended family.
"Jerry was an important member of the Schnader family and at the core of Schnader values and traditions. He was especially proud that, in 2006, he joined William Schnader and his mentor Bernard G. Segal as a recipient of the American Bar Association's highest recognition, the ABA Medal. He was my friend and mentor. I will miss him terribly."
Mr. Shestack joined Schnader in 1955, and practiced with the Firm until 1991. He returned to the Firm in 2009, and was active in providing counsel on a multitude of issues and a range of matters. Mr. Shestack served as President of the American Bar Association from 1997 – 1998 and was a nationally renowned trial lawyer who was cited by The National Law Journal as one of the "100 Most Influential Lawyers" in the United States. He handled complex litigation for some of the country's largest corporations, including ABC, NBC, CBS, Westinghouse, GAF, Hertz, RCA, Advanta, and Comcast, and argued more than 150 cases in appellate courts across the nation. Additionally, he served as a federal mediator and arbitrated and mediated cases involving major national and international corporations. He was a member of the American Arbitration Association National Roster of Neutrals, and served as a member of the board for that organization.
Prior to his election as President of the American Bar Association, Mr. Shestack served on the Board of Governors and the Executive Committee of the ABA, and chaired its Program and Planning Committee. For six years he served on the ABA's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which makes recommendations to the President and the United States Senate on the qualifications of all prospective federal judges. He was also a founding member and Chair of the ABA's Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Chair of the Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law, lead the charge for the first Women's Rights Committee, and served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants. In the last-named post, he was a founder of the ABA's Pro Bono Center, and provided critical leadership in the creation of the Legal Services Corporation, which today funds 137 legal aid programs with over 900 offices around the nation to help poor Americans gain equal access to the judicial system.
A world leader in the international human rights movement, Mr. Shestack served as President of the International League for Human Rights for 20 years. He served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights under President Jimmy Carter and also served as a member of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and as a Commissioner of the United States Presidential – Congressional Commission to Improve the Effectiveness of the United Nations under President George H. W. Bush. He has chaired the International Bar Association Standing Committee on Human Rights, and founded and was the first chair of the New York-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now "Human Rights First"). He also served as general counsel of Amnesty International in the United States, on the Executive Committee of the International Commission of Jurists, as Counselor to the American Society of International Law, and served as a co-chair of the ABA's Human Rights Center, which he founded.
Mr. Shestack was also a leader in the American civil rights movement and has devoted his efforts to ensuring equal access to the law for all. He was a founding member of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He was also a founder of Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, which seeks to advance the Constitutional promise of equal citizenship to all persons irrespective of race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, gender or poverty through the provision of legal and technical assistance. Mr. Shestack was also on the Executive Committee of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.
Committed to the advancement of knowledge and learning, Mr. Shestack was a life trustee of the Free Library of Philadelphia, served as chair of the University of Pennsylvania Press and as President of the Jewish Publication Society of America, and on the Board of Directors of Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University and Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University. He also has served as chair of the American Poetry Center and was a director of the American Poetry Review.
Recognized many times over for his impressive professional achievements, Mr. Shestack was a life member of the American Law Institute, a member of the Order of the Coif, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. He was also listed in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in American Law. Mr. Shestack graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received his L.L.B. from Harvard Law School where he was editor in chief of the Harvard Law School Record and an Ames Finalist. He clerked in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and has taught at Northwestern Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, which awarded him an Honorary Fellowship. Mr. Shestack was also an Honorary Fellow of Columbia Law School and had three honorary doctor of laws degrees. He wrote more than 200 articles for various law journals and newspaper editorial pages, and contributed chapters in more than a dozen scholarly books. He was honored for his dedication to the profession and tireless commitment to public service with numerous awards, including the ABA's highest medal and the Gruber Foundation's Justice Award. A leader in the community as well as in the profession, Mr. Shestack was a board member of the Cure Autism Now Foundation, an organization dedicated to medical research on autism, and President of Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania.
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