Celebrating the Wit and Wisdom of Howard Shapiro (1926-2019)

August 29, 2019

On August 18, 2019, our beloved and accomplished friend and partner, Howard Shapiro, passed away.   For more information, click here. 

In remarks to the firm, Rick Agnew, Chairman said, "For the great many of us who learned so much from Howard, we cherish extraordinarily warm and fond memories of his great teaching of all, his love of life and law, and his incredibly generous spirit. Howard was a classic lawyer’s lawyer, careful in every detail, but also a wonderful and careful teacher. All the while, he had a great sense of humor and love of family. We will carry on Howard’s example of being a distinguished and principled professional while remaining a warm and caring person."

Below are remembrances from Colleagues and Friends of the Firm:

"Howard was a special talent in the practice of law. He respected the tradition of precedent and procedural due process while he adjusted to new-fangled concepts under PURPA. He was a wonderful resource for VNF and was clearly at home there after his illustrious career in government."

“A remarkable man who taught me a lot.”

“Howard was a wonderful colleague, a good friend, a brilliant scholar and litigator, (with a number of Supreme Court arguments under his belt) and always a gentleman.  His 50 plus year-old marriage to the love of his life, (both members of the Columbia Law School Class of ’55) was something beautiful to behold.  He will always serve as a role model for me and hopefully for the others here who had the benefit of knowing him, on how an attorney should conduct him or herself."

"He was, as Rick so eloquently noted, a lawyer’s lawyer and a wonderful friend of us all."

“One of the best mentors I ever had.  I miss his wit, intelligence, love of the law, and the way he so carefully and artfully drafted powerful sentences and paragraphs.  Truly an amazing man and role model.”

“Howard was a superb lawyer, careful but elegant writer, and a fine human being.  I am so proud to have been his partner at VNF.”

“Howard was my mentor during my early years as an associate.  He was one of the greatest lawyers I have had the fortune of knowing, and above all he was humble, kind, generous and compassionate.  I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to meet and work with Howard.”

“Howard was the smartest lawyer I knew, and he was always happy to answer questions when I didn't know where to turn!  We had a fun bartering system at work - he would force me to take a slice or two of his apple, and in exchange he took one or two Hershey's Kisses I had on my desk.  I will miss him dearly!”

“Howard is a legend.  I very much enjoyed working with him.  I learned so much and appreciated his quick wit and wisdom.”

"I didn’t know Howard well; not like a lot of folks who I hope will read this. But I bring the perspective of opposing counsel at the US Supreme Court. Howard wasted no time. He called me immediately and introduced himself. He was humble, friendly, smart and funny. During briefing and preparation for oral argument Howard was a model of civility and professionalism. He valued an honest argument on the merits and had little interest in being difficult.  Howard and his compatriots produced an excellent brief. I knew we would lose when I read it. We gamely made our argument, but it didn’t look good.  We put a brave face on, but I think we were all feeling pretty pessimistic when we left the building.  Several months later, I had just sat down at my desk when my phone rang.  It was Howard and all he said was “congratulations”.  I wasn’t sure what to think so I said something intelligent like:  “Did something happen in our case?”  Howard chuckled and said “It sure did.  The decision came out and you won.  And, for what it’s worth, I think you deserved to win.”  I sat there stunned to recognize immediately the grace and kindness Howard was offering. It was a great experience to win a big Supreme Court case, but it was just as great to work across the table from somebody as smart, talented, gracious and good humored as Howard.  I know he will be missed by many.  Count me as one of those who think this world is a poorer place without Howard Shapiro in it".

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