Edwards Wildman is saddened to announce the death of Bernie Harrold, a founder and partner in the firm of Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, now Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP. Mr. Harrold, who died on October 22, 2012 at his home in Winnetka, Illinois, is survived by his wife, Kathleen; their son, Jim; daughter Renata Harrold-Donnell (Dave); and three grandchildren. He was 87.
In 1988, Mr. Harrold was honored by his alma mater, Indiana University School of Law, with its Academy of Law Fellows Award. At that time, he joined only 18 other distinguished alumni honored over the years, including former presidential candidate Wendell Wilkie. On that occasion, Dean Bryant Garth praised Mr. Harrold as a “founder, leader, and manager of an organization that is recognized as one of the nation’s preeminent law firms.”
While Max Wildman was the face of the new firm founded on July 1, 1967, Mr. Harrold handled its operations. He negotiated the terms of the separation from the Kirkland firm; negotiated the leases for the Wildman Harrold quarters, first at 6 North Michigan and then at One IBM Plaza; secured the firm’s first line of credit and handled firm finances; and designed and implemented the earliest recruiting policy. Heady stuff for an Indiana preacher’s son whose high school class in a small country schoolhouse in Wells County, Indiana, numbered only 19 students.
Mr. Harrold was valedictorian of that class and was drafted and served during World War II in the U.S. Army Antitank Co., 333 Infantry Regiment, 84th Division, also known as the Railsplitter Division as its members hailed primarily from the Lincoln states: Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. His unit was part of the last Allied push across Germany. Upon returning to the States, he went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Indiana University in 1949. He then graduated Order of the Coif from the university’s School of Law, where he was Note Editor of the Law Journal.
Mr. Harrold began his career at Kirkland in the antitrust area. He worked on the famous U.S. v. Swift-Armour case, and also represented RCA in a multi-million dollar patent infringement and antitrust suit against Zenith. On this latter effort, he worked closely with fellow Kirkland associate Robert Bork, who would go on to fame as Solicitor General and failed Supreme Court nominee. Anxious for more trial experience, Mr. Harrold began taking casualty cases. By the time he helped found Wildman Harrold, he had carved out a subspecialty in medical malpractice defense.
Mr. Harrold continued to try such cases at the firm, while greatly expanding his practice. Here he headed complex commercial litigation teams, tried patent cases, and was instrumental in establishing the firm’s environmental and criminal defense practices. In the 1970s, he represented Abbott Laboratories in its presentation to the Illinois Pollution Control Board, proposing rules for the newly formed agency. Mr. Harrold represented the outside general counsel of Velsicol after the company, its senior executives and its lawyers were indicted under the federal environmental laws, leading the defense of all the individual defendants and establishing the law on prosecutorial misconduct. He also continued to appear in civil and criminal antitrust cases litigated across the country. At the same time, he developed and strengthened ties with loyal clients like Allied Tube and Conduit, the nation’s largest producer of electrical conduit.
While his skill in the courtroom and in firm management matters were key factors in the success of the firm, his greatest legacy may be the role he played in the development of young lawyers. Many lawyers who joined Wildman Harrold in the ’70s and ’80s point to Mr. Harrold as their mentor.
When asked to describe his courtroom style, Mr. Harrold once said that it was similar to that of an Indiana preacher. “I raise my voice a lot, but not constantly,” he said. “If you raise your voice, you have to get something out of it. You don’t try to talk all of the time. In fact, it’s very persuasive in court to pause. Ninety-nine percent of the lawyers I see think you have to utter a continual stream of sound. That’s silly. It’s much better to talk in measured tones to get your point across.”