Bernard Nash ’66 Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award and Library Reading Room Dedication
Brooklyn Law School celebrated the remarkable career and devoted support for the Law School community of Bernard Nash ’66 with the recent dedication of the Phyllis & Bernard Nash ‘66 Reading Room and presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award at a special dinner attended by Nash’s family, friends, and past and present colleagues from around the country. The dinner and award were given jointly by the Law School and Cozen O’Connor, where Nash is co-chair of the firm’s State Attorneys General Practice and co-editor of its weekly State AG Report.
Nash is a pioneer in the legal profession, from his work at the Securities and Exchange Commission starting in 1966, to his years at the U.S. Senate, to launching the country’s first state attorneys general practice 40 years ago. Over the course of his career, Nash has litigated or settled multiple billion-dollar cases, represented clients in all 50 states, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, and worked on multibillion-dollar mergers. But his most illustrious achievement is being the drafter and architect of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, which, among other provisions, gave state attorneys general the authority to file federal antitrust lawsuits and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division authority to issue subpoenas in civil antitrust investigations.
At the SEC, Nash had worked on applying antitrust laws and principles to the securities, electric, and gas utility industries, including Pennzoil’s acquisition of United Gas in 1968. As Congress considered deregulating industries such as securities, trucking, railroads, airlines, and electric and gas utilities, they relied on his expertise.
In 1977, Nash left the government and founded his own firm. The firm focused primarily on lobbying until the early 1980s, when David Boies, then at Cravath, involved Nash in his work for HBO, which wanted to fight a plan by five major movie companies to freeze HBO out of showing blockbuster movies. Nash, Boies, and HBO attorney John Redpath worked with many state AGs to block the joint venture, which launched Nash into the world of AG law full time. Since then, Nash and his team of 20 have been focusing almost exclusively on representing companies across the country when under the scrutiny of state AGs.
Nash kicked off the Law School’s celebration with a ceremonial ribbon cutting in front of the newly dedicated reading room on the third floor of the library. Nash and his wife have generously supported the Law School community, including the endowment of the Bernard Nash Scholarship in 2011.
Among those in attendance at the events were Nash’s wife Phyllis, daughter Nicole, daughter-in-law Michelle Nash, son-in-law Dan English, and grandson Jake Nash; Charlie Oberly, a longtime friend of Nash who served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware and Attorney General of Delaware; Karen White, Executive Director of the Conference of Western Attorneys General, who has worked with Nash for 27 years; and Lori Kalani, co-chair with Nash of the State Attorneys General Practice at Cozen O’Connor. Video greetings at the dinner came from several friends and colleagues including Michael Heller, Executive Chairman and CEO of Cozen O’Connor; Mike Turpen, former Attorney General of Oklahoma; Jerry Hellerman, Nash’s first boss at the SEC and best friend; and Jim McPherson, former Executive Director of the National Association of Attorneys General.
“We’re honoring a man who forged his own legal path and created a niche practice that didn’t exist before he saw it,” said White. “He has used this niche to help our states get better policy, better law, and more knowledgeable elected officials.”
Kalani said she was “awestruck” when she first met Nash at an AG conference and immediately recognized him as a worthy role model: “I observed the way he interacted with the AGs, his clients, and friends. People clearly respected him, and I remember thinking that I wanted to establish a similar rapport in this network of people,” she said. “When I started my own AG practice, I set the bar for my practice to emulate Bernie’s. Years later we merged practices—one of the best decisions I ever made.”
“Like Bernie Nash, this Law School has a well-deserved reputation for innovation and being in the forefront of legal change,” said Professor Nick Allard, former dean of the school and a longtime friend of Nash. “And this particular beautiful new library space exemplifies new approaches to learning law. In today’s digital era, libraries need spaces where you learn how to get information—and they also need collaborative space where people can talk, interact with others and work in teams. There’s no other field where you can more usefully learn on a collaborative team basis than law. So, this space is meant for students to engage one another and with faculty. Since it was recently opened and renovated, it has already become one of the most popular new parts of the school’s facilities.”
Accepting the Lifetime Achievement award from Kalani and Allard, Nash was characteristically quick to praise and thank others. He singled out Allard’s “innovative leadership,” which he said “has taken the Law School to new heights and national recognition.” He also thanked Harry Pollack at the SEC for hiring him out of law school in 1966; his friends, clients, and Cozen colleagues for their “support, guidance, and wise counsel”; and his family—particularly Phyllis Nash, his wife of 54 years. “Success is not a solo act,” he said. “It requires a team, and I have been fortunate to have had that team throughout my career.”