Today is the birthday of Daniel J. McAuliffe, who passed away a year ago. In his memory, I am posting my Arizona Attorney editor’s column from May 2010.

You can read the column online here.

And see some images we posted last week here.

A Force at Rest

Dan McAuliffe passed away March 12. All indications are, the world is going to have a tough time without him.

There are a lot of reasons for that. On page 14, some of his fellows talk about Dan’s impact on the profession, and the vacuum he leaves in his wake.

For me, it came down to Dan’s judgment and his delivery. Those are the qualities I will miss most.

For example, in late 2008, a question arose about whether it was permissible for lawyers to accept credit card payments for fees they had not yet earned. It was an ethical dilemma, but also a real-world law practice problem.

That’s when Dan McAuliffe wrote an article setting forth the issues and an interim solution. The Dean of Arizona Ethics wrote practically, more elbow grease than ivory tower. And that’s what Arizona lawyers like most about him. As his partner John Bouma says, Dan was pragmatic, never dogmatic—a problem-solver.

Where others would take to the ramparts loudly, Dan would pick up his pen and draft a solution. Sometimes loudly.

And, darn it, he was almost always right. If he said something, you could usually bank on it.

At the Bar Convention about a year ago, I stood in the Biltmore’s Aztec Room during the President’s Reception. As I spoke with Dan and others, he interrupted himself to mutter, with his sideways smile, “Eigo, get a haircut.”

That one knocked me back a bit, but so powerful was his world view and so trustworthy his counsel that I took a good look: He was right—I was getting a bit shaggy. Apparently, his judgment could be trusted in most all domains. The next day, I got a haircut.

Well, the day after Dan died, I again sat in the barber’s chair and thought about this remarkable lawyer. Granted, depending on where you stood, he could be either a rock or an avalanche, but he was no wallflower.

As Judge Janet Barton says, Dan “devoted himself not only to the practice of law but to the legal profession. It was understood by Dan that the complete package is not only to bill a phenomenal number of hours, but to give back.” The complete package is very rare.

Soon after McAuliffe died, his Regis High School classmates sent a condolence letter and their memories of the budding attorney: “He was the genuine article.” “Even back then Dan was primer inter pares.” “He was, withal, our leader.”

Dan McAuliffe was a leader and a friend—to anyone who has ever become a lawyer and uttered the oath of admission to a bar, or to anyone who has ever relied on one of those lawyers. He is missed.