Lawyers come and go, typically underappreciated and rarely extolled. My friend and law school roommate, Rob Greenspan, was different than most. He was an old-fashioned bachelor, who at first glance appeared to be married only to the law. Rob’s unique quality was not about how hard he worked in the face of physical adversity, nor was it the fact that he could speak about virtually any aspect of the law even if he did not practice in that particular field. What made this man unique, born and raised in suburban Washington, who practiced law in Baltimore and ultimately the Boston area, was the extent to which he adopted the families of others. Bob not only kept in touch with his close friends, but more importantly he attended the family events of those friends. Rob was present for my son’s ritual circumcision, his brit, my daughter’s wedding, and numerous bar and bat mitzvahs. Even though the trip from Boston to Williamsport, Pennsylvania was long and difficult, Rob managed to show up where he was quickly incorporated into the family dynamic.
It is almost trite to call Rob a “lawyer’s lawyer.” The fidelity to the law of this limerick-infatuated character was only a surface trait. Rob respected the law and what lawyers did to advocate for others. The man from Hull, Massachusetts never lost his sense of humor or his moral compass. How many of us can say that they have lived as lawyers in that way? To how many of us is it more important to be totally truthful than to be politically successful? Who among us would sacrifice a big payday in order to secure the enduring respect of the court?
Each member of Rob’s renowned Washington, D.C. family, and long list of friends, were asked to either write a limerick or try to find one of Rob’s. After the funeral and interment, most people returned to the house to recite what they had written or read. The following is my Ode to the Man from Hull:
There was a man named Rob from Hull
Who was anything but dull
Never a lull, not a guy to schmull
And always a friend to his friends
He never needed to make amends
And always remembered to send
Whether it was a gift, a good wish or a friendly joke
On that you could depend
Humor ribald was his
He made everyone’s life his biz
The man from Hull was a lawyer’s lawyer
Dedicated to his profession without objection
Rarely needing correction, short of perfection
Never at risk of rejection
Even when he could not see, he saw better than most
With much less fuss
And virtually no muss
He plied his trade with dedication
While Georgetown was his foundation
The man from Hull was one who never lied
Rarely snide (okay, occasionally),
A quality mind, rarely fried
Bourbon, he loved almost as much as the law
He imbibed while telling yet another old saw
The man from Hull will be missed
Although his life will remain undiminished
Someone once said, “our relationship does not have to end with death”
And our relationship with Rob will be ongoing
Although not religious, Rob was thoroughly a Jew
With a consistency and fidelity that all well knew
In our tradition it has been frequently written
That at the portals to heaven a person will be asked “were you honest in business”?
Rob, the man from Hull, will have no trouble answering,
Honest in business? Just ask the people who knew me
And, by the way, where are the bourbon drinkers?
Robert Greenspan, may you rest in peace knowing that the law and your clients were better for your time on Earth.
Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters
161 West Third Street
Williamsport, PA 17701
(570) 323-8711 (telephone)
(570) 323-4192 (facsimile)
Cliff Rieders, who practices law in Williamsport, is Past President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association and a member of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority. None of the opinions expressed necessarily represent the views of these organizations.