Obviously I did not have any contact with Mr. McElroy when I was running for judge. I didn't even know such people existed. But I met Mr. McElroy a few years back, through Avy Meyers, who always sang McElroy's praises. After that, on those few times I called Mr. McElroy about this candidate or that vacancy, he was quick to return my calls and answer my questions. As a blogger-and-or-amateur-journalist, I can offer no greater praise.
But that's hardly an appropriate sendoff, so I'll link instead to Neil Steinberg's affectionate farewell. In case you missed it.
Ed McElroy was not a lawyer. George Collins, on the other hand, was a lawyer's lawyer, as the Law Bulletin said in it's headline over Patricia Manson's October 17 tribute.
According to Manson's linked article (subscription required), Mr. Collins had an extensive civil and criminal practice, representing "banks, schools, businesses and individuals." But it was his skill in professional disciplinary cases that vaulted Collins to the pinnacle of the profession.
The lawyer or judge in a disciplinary jam was well-advised to seek assistance from Mr. Collins. ARDC Chief Counsel James J. Grogan is quoted in Manson's article as calling Collins a "giant," noting that he "was probably the most prolific" lawyer in terms of the number of ARDC cases he took on. I happened to be talking to Grogan last Monday, before Manson's article came out, and our conversation turned to Collins' passing (I'd not yet heard). While I hadn't contacted Grogan in connection with this blog, I don't believe I'm violating any rules of journalistic etiquette to note that Grogan spoke eloquently of the respect and admiration that he and his colleagues had for Mr. Collins.
Mr. Collins's last trial, according to Manson's article, was before the Courts Commission in February (the Beatriz Santiago trial). He was representing Rhonda Crawford at the time of his death.
An excerpt from Manson's tribute seems the best way to close out this post:
Collins was among the recipients last month of the CBA’s Justice John Paul Stevens Award, which honors Chicago attorneys and judges who have shown the same public service and integrity Stevens showed in his legal career.
In accepting the award, Collins did not talk about himself, his law partners said, but focused his remarks on Stevens.
Friends and colleagues said Collins always focused on others.
Collins fought hard for his clients, but never stepped over the line, [CBA President Daniel M.] Kotin said.
“He was one of the greatest gentlemen that I ever met as a practicing lawyer,” he said.
“If all of us could conduct ourselves and practice law as George did, I think we could have a much more amiable, cooperative, kinder and nicer profession.”