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Richard Grand - Obituary

 

Obituary provided by the Grand family, April 10, 2013

 

Attorney Richard Grand, a self-described "merchant of words" who earned national prominence by convincing juries to award his clients tens of millions of dollars, died Sunday. He was 83.

 

Grand, the son of refugees and a 1958 graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law, died of natural causes in his sleep. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marcia, and a daughter, Cindy.

 

After a brief, inauspicious stint in the Pima County Attorney´s Office - where he lost 14 out of 15 jury trials in three months - Grand set off on his own and proceeded to transform himself into a master practitioner of the trial lawyer´s art.

 

"The law is not what persuades a jury," Grand told the Tucson Citizen in 2001. "It´s words. It´s an appeal to common sense, justice and emotions."

 

Grand was never at a loss for words in describing his facility for courtroom persuasion. He once equated a closing argument to jazz, telling a friend that "it involves a great deal of improvisation." He also reveled in the bond between lawyers and actors and courtrooms and the theater.

 

"With the theater, you need to get people´s minds going," he said. "That´s exactly what you have to do with a jury. You have to strike a spark."

 

The legal sparks Grand ignited became legendary. Over a law career spanning five decades, he won verdicts in excess of $1 million in more than 100 cases. His largest recovery was for a $10 million cash settlement in a medical malpractice case.

 

In 1972, he won Arizona´s first million-dollar verdict and a verdict of $3.5 million, the largest verdict in the United States at the time. That same year, the 42-year-old Grand founded the Inner Circle of Advocates, an invitation-only organization of trial lawyers who have completed at least 50 personal injury jury trials and have at least one verdict in excess of $1 million for compensatory damages. The organization´s mission is "to promote the highest standards of courtroom competence" and provide a forum allowing trial lawyers to share information and ideas about their work.

 

Grand designed the organization´s logo - the number 7 in a circle - that represented the seven-figure jury award, not settlement, required to join. According to the organization´s website, "Inner Circle of Advocates members believe that by achieving justice for their clients, they also achieve changes for the good of society as a whole."

 

The potential for effecting positive social change was for Grand a powerful motivating force, as well as a source of tremendous personal satisfaction. One of his cases, the drowning of a 7-year-old Tucson girl at a YMCA pool, not only resulted in an $8 million settlement but prompted the organization to implement changes aimed at enhancing the monitoring of young swimmers.

 

Being a trial lawyer, Grand once quipped, was "kind of a Robin Hood thing. All I do really is redistribute money."

 

Grand for many years had an office on the corner of Church and Franklin streets in downtown Tucson. His practice was limited to representing plaintiffs.

 

Outside of the courtroom, the Grands have given generously to numerous philanthropic organizations and the University of Arizona. Often, their donations included paintings and other works of art. He and Marcia were avid art collectors who also commissioned paintings from local artists. Their love of vivid colors was evident in these works, as it was in the bright yellow kitchen in their Tucson home and Grand´s tendency to jot notes with purple felt-tipped pens or sport a bright red watchband.

 

Grand derived great satisfaction going to plays, movies or watching birds. Simple pursuits - eating hot dogs on the Fourth of July, a show at Centennial Hall, strolling along a beach, a borscht-belt joke or going on a road trip to Sonoita, Arizona - always brought him pleasure.

 

Grand also valued the acknowledgment of his colleagues. A law textbook written by a fellow UA law alum, Mo Udall, was among his treasured possessions - not so much the book itself but for the inscription inside the front cover. Udall signed it with a conventional "Best Regards to Dick Grand" in May 1960, a year before Udall was elected to Congress. Two decades later, in April 1980, Udall signed it again.

 

Grand always maintained a special fondness for his alma mater. In 2000, he created a legal-writing competition that emphasized the importance he placed on good writing. The prizes for the competition range from $250 for fifth place to $2,000 for first. He also sponsored a competition in oral arguments. Brochures for these competitions usually included a list of "Thoughts for Law Students," short phrases that captured not only Grand´s approach to the law, but to life.

 

"Sit on a hard chair and sweat" and "If you don’t like learning, don’t become a lawyer" were among the thoughts in the brochure for the most recent argument competition, which was held April 2. Another was a piece of sage advice given to him by his father: "Dream... No charge for alterations."

 

Grand was an eager and life-long student who was never reluctant to sweat to achieve his goals. He was born Feb. 20, 1930 in the Free State of Danzig, which is now known as Gdansk. In 1939, amid a rising tide of increasingly violent anti-Semitism, Grand, his parents and many of the city´s other Jewish families fled. Thanks to hard-to-get visas obtained by his mother, the family escaped through London and then settled in New York. Years later, Grand said this harrowing experience, combined with a measure of "survivor guilt," may well have been the reason he was drawn to a profession concerned with meting out justice.

 

Grand´s father, Morris Grand, died in 1981 and his mother, Rena Wajnberg Grand, died in 2002.

 

Grand graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1947 and went on to earn his undergraduate degree from New York University. Warm weather brought him to Tucson, where he dabbled in advertising and as a disc jockey (using the name "Sentimental Richard") before entering law school. Grand´s graduation photo, taken on May 28, 1958, provided a glimpse into his penchant for marching to the beat of his drum: It shows him admiring his law school diploma with Marcia and his father, but under his black gown he is wearing shorts and knee-high socks.

 

Grand married Marcia on Jan. 27, 1952. He never tired of telling the story of how they eloped in Nogales, Arizona and used a handkerchief as a tie. He often referred to their enduring relationship as his "prize accomplishment."

 

On Homecoming weekend in 2011, the Grands shared the Alumnus of the Year Award from UA´s College of Law. Grand also was honored by the university in 2002, when he became the 12th recipient of its Professional Achievement Award.

 

In 1997, Grand founded and served as the honorary president of the Richard Grand Society, an association of personal injury attorneys in Great Britain. He also was a member of the International Society of Paraplegia and the legal section of the British Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is listed in Best Lawyers in America, Who's Who in American Law, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in the World. Grand has published on the subjects of case management and the presentation of traumatic injury. He is a member of the State Bar of Arizona. He was a certified specialist in injury and wrongful death litigation, Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of Arizona.

 

Private services are pending. In lieu of flowers donations in Grand´s name can be made to the University of Arizona Foundation-Art at the University of Arizona College of Fine Art, P.O. Box 210004, Attention: Development, Tucson, AZ, 85721.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated: 04/11/2013