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Jones Day mourns Andy Kramer

November 2011

November 22, 2011

We lost Andy Kramer last night. He passed away after a singular 12-year fight with cancer. He was 67. His birthday was November 2.

Andy's courage and energy during his illness inspired and instructed us all. He really did live every year, every month, every day like it was his last. His recognition of the limits placed on his time with us shaped his conduct in all aspects of his service to the Firm. His dedication to the Firm, its lawyers, its staff and its clients grew each year of his challenge and was even more amazing and compelling given the burden he was carrying.

Andy was our Partner-in-Charge of Client Relations since the position was created in the late 1980's. His skill with clients and his understanding of their objectives and how the Firm could be responsive to their needs was a gift from which we all benefited greatly. He transformed and deepened our relationship with hundreds of our best clients.

Fittingly, Andy was introduced to Jones Day by a client. Harold Henderson was the General Counsel of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in the late 1970's. Jones Day had been representing Firestone since it was founded in Akron in the early 1900's, and the Company sought Jones Day's counsel regularly on major matters. When Firestone faced a Ralph Nader-inspired Congressional and NHTSA investigation over the safety of the 500 radial tire, the Company turned to Jones Day and Pat McCartan. In the course of that representation, Harold Henderson told Andy, then the partner-in-charge of Seyfarth, Shaw’s Washington, DC office and a lawyer from whom Harold had sought labor advice, to speak with Pat about joining Jones Day. Shortly after meeting with Allen Holmes and Dick Pogue, Andy became a Jones Day partner.

Andy was one of the very best, if not the best, labor lawyers of his generation. When he started in practice, there was no notion, as there is today, of a labor lawyer as distinct from an employment lawyer or an employee benefits lawyer. Andy did it all, and did it magnificently. In 1973, when he was only 31, the Governor of Illinois asked Andy to leave Seyfarth, which he had joined out of Northwestern Law School, to become the Executive Director of the Illinois Office of Collective Bargaining. In that position, Andy was responsible for overseeing the placement of 65,000 public employees in appropriate collective bargaining units.

After his government service, he returned to private practice and soon became one of the most sought after management negotiators in the country. The list of employers that came to rely on him to lead them through their most complex labor negotiations could fill pages. Among them were Newport News Shipbuilding, the Detroit newspapers, the states of Florida and Illinois, the City of Miami, the Boston Red Sox, General Motors and Bridgestone.

His work reformulating the health care arrangements for hundreds of thousands of retirees from General Motors, Goodyear and Dana was widely recognized as helping not just those clients but the larger society to begin to address some very difficult social, political and legal issues surrounding health care benefits.

While Andy was the smartest and toughest of management labor negotiators, he never lost sight of the point of view of those on the other side or of the importance of reaching an agreement. For those reasons, among others, he had the complete confidence and utmost respect of his adversaries. The moving tributes to Andy from unions and their representatives that we have already begun to receive speak volumes about him as an advocate of enormous integrity.

But negotiating labor contracts was not all he excelled at. He tried discrimination cases in jurisdictions throughout the country—imagine Andy successfully arguing to a federal judge in Louisiana that Cajuns were not a protected class. He tried and defended many strike-related state and federal court injunction proceedings. He was also a leading lawyer in complex, high-exposure arbitration cases, many of which resulted in decisions that preserved our clients' ability to survive under circumstances that threatened their existence. He argued numerous major labor and employment cases in five United States Circuit Courts of Appeal and twice argued before the United States Supreme Court. He was also a truly gifted public speaker who was in constant demand at conferences and symposia on labor law and the profession generally.

Andy loved all aspects of being the complete lawyer that he was. He had a practice that cannot be replicated and was a lawyer who came as close as any lawyer in this Firm could to being irreplaceable.

Andy used to say that "1983 was the best year of my life. It was the year I married Bambi and the year that I joined Jones Day." Andy’s four children — Howard, Jennifer, Samantha, Stephanie — and his grandchildren were a source of unending pride and joy and, especially as his health began to fail, of great comfort.

Andy demanded so much of himself in all that he did. He was wholly committed to his own continued professional development notwithstanding that he was already by any measure in full possession of the highest skills. Those of you who knew him well know that whenever he was unhappy with his effort, whether he was working on Firm matters, client matters or his golf game, he would chide himself and say: "Oh, Andrew Michael, you can do better than that."

In his memory, the Firm will establish the Andrew Michael Kramer Institute For Client Service at Jones Day. The Institute will be located in our Cleveland Office where Andy served for more than a decade as the head of Client Relations. It will be funded each year out of current revenues. The Institute will be the educational and research arm of Jones Day and bring together academics, professionals and clients to study and articulate the standards that should govern the highest level of client service in the legal profession. Andy's family requests that contributions in his memory be made to the American Cancer Society.

Andy helped us to see not only what makes a great lawyer, but more importantly what makes a great partner. He was unselfish and was always upset when he witnessed selfishness amongst us. Instead, he was the definition of generosity. He was completely dedicated to our clients' interests and he protected the Firm in all he did, giving all he could to advance it professionally and culturally. His example evoked in us kindness and commitment to one another, his illness prompted us to a recognition and thanksgiving for our own blessings.

Andy Kramer didn't just like this Firm, he loved it. And we loved him.

Stephen J. Brogan
Managing Partner

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