Posted Mar 09, 2011 01:54 pm CST
For hard-working litigator S. Hazard Gillespie, Erie Railroad v. Tompkins was more than a Supreme Court decision in a casebook.
Gillespie worked on the case in 1938, soon after going to work full-time for the firm then known as Davis, Polk, Wardwell, Gardiner & Reed. He was the firm’s first summer associate, and he continued to go to his office at the firm even after he gave up his law license.
Gillespie became a top litigator at Davis Polk & Wardwell and also served as U.S. attorney in Manhattan. He retired from Davis Polk in 1980, but he continued to make the 80-minute commute to his office and to do volunteer work.
The Times asked Gillespie last year why he continued to work. Gillespie’s answer: “I think it gets to be part of our lives. And it’s a thing that you just like to carry on. It makes you feel that you’re useful, but it’s usefulness to the community. Certainly, that’s what stirs me.”