Roger Pascal, a renowned lawyer who for 50 years served as a litigation partner with the law firm Schiff Hardin LLP and as a volunteer attorney, general counsel, and board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, died of cancer at his home on Sunday, December 27. A resident of Evanston, he was 74 years old.
“Roger Pascal was a great lawyer whose life embodied the constitutional and moral imperative to ‘do justice,’” said Colleen K. Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois. “He was an intellectual, legal, and moral giant who inspired generations of lawyers to make the world a better place.”
Driven by intellectual curiosity, Roger chose the law as a career for the intellectual challenge and the opportunity to write and advocate. He joined Schiff Hardin in 1965, became a partner in 1972, and served as a leader of the firm’s Litigation Group for more than 20 years. While he focused his complex and multiparty litigation practice in intellectual property, antitrust and trade secrets, Roger also tried cases in fields as disparate as aviation, criminal law, and commodity futures trading, enjoying noteworthy success wherever he plied his trade.
At the age of 35, Roger argued Boston Stock Exchange v. New York State Tax Commission before the U.S. Supreme Court. Representing several regional stock exchanges, Roger argued that the New York State stock transfer statute taxed securities trades on the New York exchanges more favorably than trades on the regional exchanges, and therefore represented a restraint of free and open interstate competition in the securities markets. The Justices ruled unanimously in his clients’ favor.
Later in his career, to enjoin a departing executive of PepsiCo from competing against his former employer, Roger and his team developed the now widely utilized doctrine of “inevitable disclosure.” Under this doctrine, an employer can use trade secret law to enjoin a former employee from working in a job that would inevitably result in the use of trade secrets. The injunction, entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
“Roger was a superb lawyer who pushed us all to be our best selves,” said Marci A. Eisenstein, Schiff Hardin’s Managing Partner. “His contributions to his clients, to Schiff Hardin, and to the legal profession cannot be measured. We are all privileged to have had him as a partner, and we will miss him deeply.”
A tenacious yet modest lawyer who believed that he had an obligation to serve others, Roger also served as counsel in some of Chicago’s most significant public interest cases. His public interest work began in the 1960s when he first assisted the ACLU of Illinois on Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority. Gautreaux challenged racially discriminatory site selection for Chicago public housing locations, ultimately bringing about the Gautreaux process, a national model for scattered site, low-density public housing.
Following Gautreaux, Roger devoted thousands of hours to ACLU cases, including the landmark K.L. v. Edgar, challenging conditions at Illinois state psychiatric hospitals, Khorrami v. Rolince, challenging the abusive and unlawful detention of a legal U.S. resident following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and Rahman v. Chertoff, challenging government watch lists and the repeated, lengthy, and abusive detentions of American citizens reentering the U.S.
“Roger was an exceptionally gifted attorney who played a unique and substantial role in the success of ACLU’s legal program,” said Harvey Grossman, former legal director for ACLU of Illinois. “Roger served brilliantly as a volunteer cooperating attorney in many of our most difficult cases. As General Counsel for more than 20 years, he generously shared his wisdom, unbounded determination, exceptional litigation skills, and deep understanding of civil liberties. A friend and a tireless supporter of civil liberties no matter how difficult the struggle, Roger left his mark on both our work and on each of us. We will miss him dearly.”
Roger’s commitment to justice, due process, and the future of the legal profession guided his participation in other organizations, including the board of the Public Interest Law Initiative; the board of the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy; and the Schiff Hardin/Howard Area Community Center Legal Clinic, which he helped establish and where he served regular shifts for many years, handling family law, credit, immigration, housing, and other cases for clinic clients.
A lifetime lover of jazz—Mingus, Parker, Gillespie, and all the greats—Roger was also a board member of the Jazz Institute of Chicago.
Roger graduated from Harvard Law School in 1965, cum laude, and from the University of Michigan in 1962, with distinction, Phi Beta Kappa. Beginning in 1998, he served as an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University School of Law, teaching trial advocacy, ethics, and pre-trial litigation.
He is survived by his wife, Martha “Missy” Pascal; their children, Deborah, Diane (married to Thomas Richie), and David (married to Amy Melnicsak); grandchildren Sam and Bennett Pascal, and Sofia Hogue; and his brothers, Charles (married to Tassie Notar) and Ross (married to Laurie) Pascal.
Among his many other personal and professional accomplishments, Roger’s family and countless friends will remember a man who, as a pilot, volunteered in a program to give urban children their first experiences of flight, and often flew medical missions, transporting patients to hospitals across the country; who decorated his office with photos of exotic fish taken on scuba trips with Missy; and who loved to share with family and friends the delicious bread— oatmeal bread, bagels, rustic loaves and more —that he learned to bake as gifts to Missy for her hard work supporting him during law school.
Gifts in Roger’s memory may be sent to the Roger Baldwin Foundation of the ACLU of Illinois, 180 N. Michigan, Suite 2300, Chicago IL, 60601, aclu-il.org, or the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, 1123 Emerson, Suite 203, Evanston IL 60201, moran-center.org.