ONE Connection | Remembering Pat McCartan

Read the full issue of ONE Connection.

By Stephen J. Brogan

We lost Pat McCartan on November 30. He was 86. For me and for many others in the Firm now and in the past, he made us. With his faith, with his nerve, with his example, with his generosity, he made us more. It is so very hard to absorb that he is gone. He was a partner for the ages.

Pat was such a great friend, mentor, inspiration, and example to all who knew him. A true tower of strength in any time of challenge or pain. As the Firm's sixth Managing Partner, Pat was a transformational leader guiding us through a turbulent time for the economy, the profession, and the Firm. He directed a restructuring and repositioning of the Firm to meet the challenges of a new, global economy, while also focusing intensely on our shared values and the Firm's commitment to the practice of law as a professional endeavor. Pat retired from the Firm in 2014 after more than 50 years of extraordinary service.

Pat was a tenacious, eloquent, and creative trial lawyer; he had a commanding presence in the courtroom, where he displayed both grace and toughness. In 1982, The Wall Street Journal profiled Pat in a front page article; the Journal recognized that he had "handled some of the biggest corporate cases in the last 20 years" and concluded: "He is, in fact, one of the nation's top trial lawyers." The very apt headline for the article was "Courtroom General." Pat was 48 years old at the time.

In a 1997 profile in Cleveland Magazine, Dick Pogue, Pat's predecessor as Managing Partner, captured many of Pat's defining qualities: "He is an extremely intelligent, highly organized individual with a wonderful sense of the attorney‑client relationship. Pat symbolizes quality, integrity, determination and success, and because he is a gentleman, we forget his iron determination to succeed."

Pat employed that iron determination and incomparable courtroom talent to achieve a series of significant client victories, over two decades. Examples include the 1975 verdict for General Motors against defect claims in the Chevy Corvair, the vehicle Ralph Nader had labeled "Unsafe At Any Speed"; the successful defense of a 1977 NHTSA effort to force Firestone to recall 20 million Firestone 500 radial tires; in the first-ever billion-dollar cash tender offer, compelling Exxon Corp. to pay Reliance Electric shareholders immediately when the district court had ordered Exxon to "hold separate" the Reliance assets pending an FTC investigation; a 1980 win for Ronald Reagan when the Carter campaign tried to block the Republican candidate from receiving $29.4 million in federal election funds; a suit against President Carter overturning a tax that Carter imposed on foreign crude oil via an Executive Order; and representing the Commissioner of Major League Baseball when the New York Yankees sought to enjoin enforcement of a George Steinbrenner agreement to resign as the Yankees general partner.

Pat also led hostile takeover defenses for several firm clients such as Gillette, Hanna Mining, Diamond Shamrock, and Marathon Oil. For Marathon, he directed more than 50 lawyers to victory against Mobil Oil in what was in effect a $6.5 billion antitrust trial that the court required be prepared and tried in just 16 days. The Marathon/Mobil trial judge later said that Pat "was the dominant lawyer on both sides … [arguing] with such compelling force there is little left for his opponents to say."

Thirty‑five years after the Reliance Electric/Exxon case, Pat received a letter from the law clerk to Judge Pratt, the presiding judge in the case. By then, the law clerk was an accomplished lawyer himself. The lawyer recalled how much legal talent there was in the courtroom and went on to say:

I write to tell you that while it was many years ago, I vividly recall your superb lawyering in that case and have thought of it often … despite the fact that you were representing the target, it was soon apparent that you were the most influential attorney in the room.

Although I was fresh out of Georgetown Law School, having worked on Capitol Hill for several years and served in the Army in Vietnam, I had enough experience to know that I was seeing exemplary lawyers on all sides, but you were the standout. At the end of the first day, the Judge asked me what I thought about that lawyer from Jones Day, Mr. McCartan. I told the Judge I thought you were running things, and the Judge said something to the effect of "Yes he was, wasn't he, quite a performance."

Pat had been a lawyer for Art Modell―the owner of the Cleveland Browns―for many years. When Modell came to him to ask that Jones Day defend him in lawsuits brought against him for relocating the team to Baltimore, Pat accepted. The time was very tense in Cleveland, and death threats were made against our lawyers and staff, who required police protection. During this period of hard feelings, an editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer called Pat to tell him that he should know that the next day's front page of the paper in large print would read: "JUDAS DAY." Pat told him politely that if he was trying to intimidate us, we had a policy against that.

Pat served the legal profession, his community, and the causes important to him. As an example, he was the leading voice in the legal profession in the 1970s urging immediate compliance when Federal Judge Battisti ordered desegregation in the Cleveland Public Schools. He served as Chair of the University of Notre Dame Board of Trustees, President of the Bar Association of Greater Cleveland, and Chair of the Board of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. He also served on the boards of the Cleveland Clinic, Ursuline College, and Gilmour Academy. He was a member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. Japan Business Council, the Ohio Business Roundtable, the Ohio Board of Bar Examiners, and the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure for the United States Courts. In 2007, he was awarded Notre Dame's Laetare Medal, the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics whose lives exemplified their faith. Among other honors he received were an honorary degree from Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of Cleveland's 1994 Archbishop Edward F. Hoban Award, and the Anti-Defamation League's 1998 Torch of Liberty Award. He was a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, as well as an honorary overseas member of the English Commercial Bar.

Patrick Francis McCartan, the son of an Irish immigrant, was born in 1934. He grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, where his father was a local cop, and he spent his boyhood on the hard‑scrabble streets of the city's north side. His parents taught him the value of hard work and education. And he found the lure of the law and trial work early on, when as a kid he enjoyed attending trials in the local courtrooms.

After high school, Pat attended the University of Notre Dame, earning a bachelor's degree in 1956. Since his voice was well‑suited to the task, he worked at the campus radio station during his undergraduate years, where he managed to enrage some listeners with speeches attacking Senator Joseph McCarthy. Pat earned a scholarship to law school at Notre Dame; he graduated in 1959, first in the class and Editor of the Law Review. In his last year of law school, Pat married his high school sweetheart, Lois. Following graduation, Pat clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Whittaker during the Court's 1959 term.

Pat joined Jones Day in 1960 along with Antonin Scalia, and they remained lifelong friends. When he arrived at the Firm, some senior lawyers thought he should focus on tax matters. Pat handled the tax work he was assigned but also had different ideas. Jack Reavis suggested that Pat ask the partner who handled workers' compensation claims for Firm clients if he had cases that needed trying. The partner pointed to a stack of files that Pat took back to his office. Soon thereafter, he was trying his first case. Not surprisingly, he won. He did so by impressing the jury with a blackboard display of the plaintiff's conflicting statements, a strategy he would employ frequently in the future.

Pat became a partner in 1966. By 1976, he was the head of the Firm's Litigation Group; in that role, he not only led major cases but also built the Firm's litigation capability and reputation for unselfish teamwork and effective, efficient client service. Indeed, he planned, designed, and oversaw the development of the Firm's modern Litigation Practice; from six lawyers in 1960, the practice grew to more than 100 in 1982. By the end of the 1980s, litigation had become a driving engine of the Firm, approaching 1,000 lawyers in all of the Firm's U.S. offices.

Perhaps more significant than the growth and size of the practice was Pat's desire to see his younger partners succeed; he took pride in seeing clients begin to work with other trial lawyers. With a keen sense of humor, compassion, and loyalty, Pat trained and developed a collection of younger partners to succeed as trial lawyers representing important clients across the globe. Along with that support came demands. He did not hide when he was unhappy with our performance. Many of us received memos when he was displeased. The memo typically began: "Mr. or Ms.: I advise you, no, I instruct you … PFM" You got the message. I certainly did.

He could also mix it up in good fun. In the days during the 1980s when praise was being heaped on him for his courtroom skills, many of us were interviewed for comment before publication.

Pat was always a put‑together dresser. Once a reporter asked Mickey Pohl how Pat kept his shoes so shined. Mickey's response was: "Pat is just not like the rest of us; the salt in the Cleveland streets in winter doesn't even stick to Pat's car." Just after that exchange was published, Mick had a brief elevator ride with Pat. Pat got in the elevator, saw Mickey and said: "Mick, your shoes look like they need to be shined, and you might want to get your car washed." With that, he got off the elevator.

Pat loved the Cleveland Indians, as did Terry Murphy. One year, Terry attended the Cleveland Indians fantasy baseball camp, and he wore the jersey of Al Rosen, a famous player. Terry proudly circulated pictures of the experience. Thereafter, Pat called Terry: "Al." It was never clear whether that was to Terry's chagrin or joy. The two used to argue about their recollection of the team's heroics. One argument was about the 1948 lineup. They each wrote memos in support. Terry's included copies of old programs and box scores. Pat's evidence was uncharacteristically thin. Pat appointed Hugh Whiting as the arbitrator; well, we all know how that turned out.

And then there was Pat's guidance and direction on what is important in life. During one of the major trials that was the subject of great public attention, Pat learned from a member of the trial team that Mickey Pohl's wife had gone to the hospital with indications of a premature birth of their daughter, Liz. Mickey stayed at the trial site that night, working on something that seemed important at the time. Just as Mickey was arriving for the early-morning meeting, Pat pulled him aside and with his stern look said he had thought better of Mick that he would think anything in a case or trial was more important than taking care of his wife and family. Pat gave Mickey hell and told him he would never forgive himself if something happened to Kaya or the baby and he was not there. Pat had already arranged to use the client's plane. Two hours later, Mickey was at the hospital. There are many such stories of Pat's kindness and perspective.

Most of all, we learned about priorities from watching him and seeing the love he had for Lois and their children, Karen and Patrick, Jr., and their grandchildren, Michael and Thomas. It was also in his private life that many of his other talents came to light. He was the chief architect on the house that he and Lois built east of Cleveland in the 1980s. He loved drawing and could easily have been a police sketch artist. I watched him apply those gifts to good effect on a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Tokyo in June of 1989, when he kept experimenting with the design of a Jones Day logo until he settled on the one we use to this day.

In 1991, Dick Pogue asked Pat to lead a strategic planning effort for the Firm. Devoting the better part of a year to the task, Pat developed a comprehensive plan for the continued growth of the Firm. The Plan includes a set of strategic themes, such as "market-driven practices," "focused growth," and "One-Firm Worldwide," designed to capture basic concepts to guide its implementation.

But by far, the most important part of the Plan is the express commitment that important, basic values should continue to guide the Firm throughout the world. Thus, Pat crafted the "Foundational Values"―values that had been part of the Firm from its inception but were never succinctly articulated. He intended that those values would dictate the Firm's approach to every issue that it may face, whether internal or external. These are the principles that continue today to define the Firm's dealings with clients, lawyers, and staff, and the communities in which we operate.

Pat became Managing Partner of the Firm on January 1, 1993. He led the Firm for a decade, with intensity, discipline, candor, directness, and clear‑eyed decision-making. He addressed the challenges of a changing profession and global economy and set the course for the future. Pat achieved for the Firm great financial stability and success during his tenure.

But his greatest gift was to instill in all of us a unity of purpose and a continuing commitment to the Firm as a professional endeavor guided always by our values. Indeed, when addressing the partners in 2002 at the close of his time as Managing Partner, he underscored his pride in the commitment Firm partners made to the Foundational Values and the culture of the Firm―saying it is "a culture that I ask you to maintain, to guard, and to treasure because it is Jones Day's most valuable asset, and one you now hold in trust for those who will follow you in this Firm."

Pat was the greatest partner in the history of our Firm. For all his gifts as a lawyer and leader, it was his personal character that made him such a force. We should all have half of his courage and one tenth of his integrity. His example and his decisions engendered so much spirit and inspiration in a whole younger generation in the Firm that still influences us today, and I pray that will always be the case in the future.

After Pat stepped down as Managing Partner, the Firm made a contribution to Notre Dame to create the Patrick F. McCartan Courtroom and Auditorium. The Notre Dame Law School is also known as the St. Thomas More School of Law. Robert Bolt, in his famous and widely praised play, A Man for All Seasons, described More in the introduction to the play as follows:

More was a man with an adamantine sense of his own self. He knew where he began and where he left off, what areas of himself he could yield to the encroachments of his enemies, and what to the encroachments of those he loved. It was a substantial area in both cases for he had a proper sense of fear and was a busy lover. Since he was a clever man and a great lawyer he was able to retire from those areas in wonderfully good order, but at last he was asked to retreat from that final area where he located his self. And there this supple, humorous, unassuming and sophisticated person, was overtaken by an absolutely primitive rigor, and could no more be budged than a cliff.

Bolt could have been talking about Pat. It is fitting indeed that Pat's courtroom is in a law school named after Thomas More.

There will be a family-only burial ceremony at the Cedar Grove Cemetery on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at the Basilica at Notre Dame on a date to be determined when there is an improved COVID‑19 environment. Pat used to tell me that is where he belonged: laid to rest at Our Lady's University to which and to whom he was so devoted. As he would have wanted us to say: "Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him."

If Jones Day were a person, it would want to be remembered as Pat McCartan. It is that sentiment that caused me at times to say to partners who were not living up to Pat's standards, "You are Pat McCartan's partner, act like it."

We love you, Pat. With deepest gratitude, thank you for all you did for us, our families, and this Firm.

Insights by Jones Day should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information purposes only and may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or proceeding without the prior written consent of the Firm, to be given or withheld at our discretion. To request permission to reprint or reuse any of our Insights, please use our “Contact Us” form, which can be found on our website at This Insight is not intended to create, and neither publication nor receipt of it constitutes, an attorney-client relationship. The views set forth herein are the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Firm.