Chas Merrill

[To members of McCarter & English (Newark, NJ)- April 30, 2017]

Dear former colleagues,

I share your sorrow at the passing of Charles ”Chas” Merrill.

Soon after I arrived at McCarter & English in 1990, Chas offered me the opportunity to become one of the original members of the firm’s Computer and High Technology (“CHT”) Group.  (I always privately thought it was like being one of the original X-Men—in which case, Chas would have been our Professor Charles Xavier.)  Those experiences became, on several levels, some of the most meaningful and memorable of my years at the Firm.

Every spring, when I teach E-Commerce Law & Drafting, I try to pass on in the classroom not only the substantive law and practical lessons that I learned from Chas but also the atmosphere of intellectual, professional, and personal excitement, evolution, and entrepreneurship that he fostered in the CHT Group—especially the way in which he always focused on the humanity behind the technology.  Every spring, I hope that my graduating students will be fortunate enough to find such a mentor, mensch, and model in their own practices.

Chas was one of the most gentlemanly and most enthusiastic lawyers that I have known, never sparing of his time, advice, and insights.  He consistently took an interest in associates’ professional development, and encouraged (and trusted) us to follow him onto American Lawyer Media’s Counsel Connect “electronic bulletin board,” not only to exchange practical information but also to help shape, and to be shaped by, its pioneering community, connections, and culture.  (At a Counsel Connect function in 1995, shortly before I joined the faculty of American University, I finally met face-to-face many of the lawyers with whom I had become acquainted through that online forum.)

I heard the sad news only a short time after talking with one of my colleagues about a new use of public key encryption technology and recounting to him how a partner I had worked with had always delighted in explaining its power and exploring its applications.

I consider it a privilege to have practiced with Charles R. Merrill.  I join you and the Firm in mourning his loss.

Walter Effross