Whenever a person passes away while they are literally at their desk, we feel compelled to mention it. When these kinds of things happen, it affects a much wider circle of people than the family and friends of the deceased. It’s almost impossible not to think of your own mortality — and what you are doing with the limited time you have — when confronted with a person who passed away while diligently working and serving his clients.

For many people, working in Biglaw until the day they die would sound like a nightmare. The nature of the profession is that the high salaries and high status attract a number of people to the field who have no desire to actually practice law or service clients over the long term. There are so many people in Biglaw who are there to make enough money so they can do other things with their life. There are so many who are trying to get out before they end up there forever.

But there are others who are in Biglaw because they like it. There are those who honestly love the work, people who get so much intellectual and even emotional satisfaction from the work that their salary and status are non-concerns.

From all indications, Mark P. Edwards, a partner at Morgan Lewis & Bockius who died at his desk on Friday, was one of those people. His friends and family will mourn that his life was too short, but hopefully they will feel that he died doing what he wanted to do….

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a factual obituary for Edwards:

Mark P. Edwards, 52, of Havertown, a partner since 1998 in the Philadelphia law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, died of cardiac arrest at his office Friday, Nov. 4.

Mr. Edwards was vice chairman of the antitrust committee at the Philadelphia Bar Association in 1998 and its chairman in 1999.

Francis M. Milone, chairman of Morgan Lewis, wrote in biographical notes that Mr. Edwards has been listed in the Best Lawyers in America since 2006 and in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business since 2003.

Edwards joined MLB as an associate in 1984 and worked all the way up to partner. It’s hard to do that if you don’t love what you do. He didn’t jump around to a bunch of different firms trying to find the right “fit.” He didn’t take a sabbatical for government work. He showed up to work and he kept at it.

Presumably some of the people at MLB were pretty freaked out when their boss/colleague/mentor/friend died in the office. In the secretive world of Biglaw, some firms try to avoid talking about the passing of a person when it occurs on the premises.

Morgan Lewis firm chairman Francis M. Milone went in the opposite direction. He wrote and disseminated his own eulogy to all Morgan Lewis personnel (reprinted in full below). It paints a picture of a man who made the firm his home:

Mark guided the antitrust team in Philadelphia for more than a decade and had a tremendous impact on those he mentored, to such an extent that a former associate turned client came over to pay his respects as soon as he heard the news.

Another client described Mark as one of the finest attorneys he had ever met and the absolute best antitrust counsel he had worked with in close to twenty years of practicing law. Clients considered Mark a go-to resource whenever an issue came up, on whose wise counsel and practical advice they could always count. Mark was one of those rare and remarkable litigators who never said a cross word about anyone, and never had a cross word uttered about him. Perhaps, as an avid sports fan, the closest he came to a cross word was when discussing the Flyers’ goaltenders a couple of years ago.

A Renaissance man who spoke eloquently and knowledgeably on any subject from complex antitrust issues to sports, Mark came to Morgan Lewis as an associate right out of law school in the fall of 1984. He was hired by Ben Quigg, whose tenure with the firm dated back to his start as a messenger for Morris Bockius half a century earlier. Mark served as of counsel from 1994 until 1998, when he was promoted to the partnership. He received his A.B. from Princeton University in 1981, and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1984.

One imagines that Edwards might have preferred to die in the company of his family, or at least at a hockey game. But most of us won’t get to chose how we go out. If you are lucky enough to enjoy what you do for living, passing away while doing it doesn’t sound so bad.

Edwards was laid to rest on Tuesday. Our condolences to his wife, his two children, and all of his friends and family.

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Mark P. Edwards, accomplished antitrust lawyer [Philadelphia Inquirer]


MORGAN LEWIS & BOCKIUS — STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF MARK EDWARDS

As news of the sudden passing of our partner, Mark P. Edwards, began to sink in at the firm on Friday, a consensus quickly emerged among those who knew him best. His life, we agreed, was great in all respects save one – it was too short. Mark would have been 53 today. He was an enormously talented lawyer with a superb intellect, but is best remembered for his warmth, wisdom, and wit.

Clients and colleagues regularly turned to Mark to work on the most complex antitrust matters. His recent work included defending a monopolization case for a leading provider of electronic payment solutions, fashioning an antitrust counterclaim on behalf of an international supplier of aerospace systems, and providing sophisticated distribution counseling to a luxury goods supplier. A former Chairman of the Antitrust Committee at the Philadelphia Bar Association, Mark was ranked as a leading practitioner in both The Best Lawyers in America (2006–2011) and Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (2003–2011), where clients lauded the quality of his representations and called him a very strong lawyer for antitrust matters. Yet, Mark’s professional achievements and accolades pale in comparison to the way his closest colleagues, clients, and friends describe him.

Associates who worked with Mark recall clients seeking him out for his unparalleled insight on commercial decisions. They remember him as an incredible teacher who took the time to solicit input from the lawyers on his team – a brilliant lawyer who carried himself as an everyday guy. The sharp wit for which we all remember him so well was matched by the kind of writing and editing talent that made it look easy for Mark to take a legal document from ordinary to extraordinary. Partners who had worked with Mark for nearly three decades remember a man whose priorities were always clear. His life was about being an excellent husband and father, friend and lawyer, in that order. Mark guided the antitrust team in Philadelphia for more than a decade and had a tremendous impact on those he mentored, to such an extent that a former associate turned client came over to pay his respects as soon as he heard the news.

Another client described Mark as one of the finest attorneys he had ever met and the absolute best antitrust counsel he had worked with in close to twenty years of practicing law. Clients considered Mark a go-to resource whenever an issue came up, on whose wise counsel and practical advice they could always count. Mark was one of those rare and remarkable litigators who never said a cross word about anyone, and never had a cross word uttered about him. Perhaps, as an avid sports fan, the closest he came to a cross word was when discussing the Flyers’ goaltenders a couple of years ago.

A Renaissance man who spoke eloquently and knowledgeably on any subject from complex antitrust issues to sports, Mark came to Morgan Lewis as an associate right out of law school in the fall of 1984. He was hired by Ben Quigg, whose tenure with the firm dated back to his start as a messenger for Morris Bockius half a century earlier. Mark served as of counsel from 1994 until 1998, when he was promoted to the partnership. He received his A.B. from Princeton University in 1981, and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1984.

Mark’s funeral Mass will take place on Tuesday, November 8, at 11:00 AM, at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church, 31 Pennswood Road in Bryn Mawr. Relatives and friends are invited to call at the Church to pay their respects after 9:00 AM that day. Here is a link with directions to the Church: http://www.omgcparish.org/.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, 480 S. Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA, 19010; to Malvern Preparatory School, 418 S. Warren Avenue, Malvern, PA, 19355; or to Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish Church, 31 Pennswood Road, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010.

In the end, it was a client who best captured our loss last week, calling Mark a true gentleman, superb attorney, and an all-around wonderful person. He will be greatly missed.

Our hearts go out to Mark’s wife, Peggy, and their children, Paul and Katie. Please join me in remembering Mark and acknowledging his many contributions to the firm as a partner, friend, and mentor.

F.M.M.


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