In Memoriam: Jerome J. Shestack

WHEREAS, Jerome J. Shestack received his BA in 1943 from the University of Pennsylvania and his JD in 1949 from Harvard Law School, where he campaigned as a student for the admission of women;

WHEREAS, Jerome J. Shestack was a renowned trial lawyer, recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the "100 Most Influential Lawyers in the United States," with an illustrious career spanning over sixty years with the Philadelphia law firms of Schnader Harrison Segal and Lewis and Wolf Block Schorr and Solis-Cohen;

WHEREAS, Jerome J. Shestack was a leader in the Jewish community locally, nationally and internationally, serving as President of Har Zion Temple, President of the Jewish Publication Society of America, serving on the board of directors of The American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University, serving on the United States Holocuast Memorial Museum Council and chairing its Committee on Conscience;

WHEREAS, throughout his career, Jerome J. Shestack championed the rights of women, racial minorities, political prisoners and the indigent;

WHEREAS, Jerome J. Shestack served for twenty years as the President of the International League for Human Rights, was a founder and later President of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and served as general counsel for Amnesty International;

WHEREAS, Jerome J. Shestack served admirably as President of the American Bar Association in 1997-1998, establishing a commission to review and revise the model rules of ethics and convening the first ABA conferences on racism, mental health and human rights;

WHEREAS, prior to becoming ABA President, Jerome J. Shestack helped found several entities within that organization, including the Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities, the Center for Pro Bono and committees to support the rights of women and American Indians, and chaired the ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law, the Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants and the ABA Center for Human Rights;

WHEREAS, Jerome J. Shestack was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, where he brought attention to the plight of political dissidents such as Andre Sakharov, as well as the thousands who disappeared during the Argentine Dirty War;

WHEREAS, Jerome J. Shestack was appointed by President George H. Bush as a Commissioner of the United States Presidential-Congressional Commission to Improve the Effectiveness of the United Nations;

WHEREAS, recognizing his work to advance human rights and equality, Jerome J. Shestack was awarded the ABA Medal, the American Bar Association’s highest honor, in 2006. The announcement of the award said, “Where individuals have suffered, Jerry has helped them. His tireless efforts have served not just American jurisprudence, but truly have served the world;”

WHEREAS, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a statement mourning Jerome J. Shestack, noting "He was a committed public servant and a dogged defender of human rights." Clinton stated, "He was unwavering in his commitment to the highest of American values and international human rights standards. Jerry was an effective advocate for the causes—and people—he cared about because he had a rare mix of wonderful qualities: optimism, resilience, humor, a thick skin, and a way of making everyone feel at ease."

NOW, THERFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association adopts this memorial resolution in recognition of the character, contributions and achievements of Jerome J. Shestack, a true Philadelphia lawyer, and extends its heartfelt condolences to his wife, Marciarose, and their children, Jennifer and Jonathan, on his passing.

ADOPTED: September 22, 2011