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‘My Dad Was a Legal Giant’

Michael Mone ’67, calm under pressure and funny with friends, was renowned as a lawyer's lawyer who set the bar of fairness high.

Photograph by Caitlin Cunningham

Imagine learning that you are the victim of medical malpractice and having your case thrown out of court because you discovered the error and the resulting harm to your health after the statute of limitations had expired.

That Kafkaesque scenario befell a man named Peter Franklin, who was discharged from the hospital with a clean bill of health, only to discover four years later that the discharging doctor had missed that his x-rays showed abnormalities consistent with Hodgkin’s disease.

Franklin sued. His case was dismissed. But that wasn’t the end of it, because his lawyer was Michael Mone ’67. He “was all about fairness,” says Robert Creedon ’67, Mone’s longtime friend. And what had happened to Franklin was patently unfair.

Mone took the case directly to the Supreme Judicial Court, and on October 9, 1980, the SJC ruled in Franklin’s favor, pointing to the “injustice of a rule that can deprive an injured plaintiff of any remedy even before he knows he has suffered harm.”

Franklin v. Albert is “the case that we all remember Michael for,” says his friend and classmate, retired judge Suzanne DelVecchio ’67. “It had a tremendous impact on the practice of law in Massachusetts.”

But there is a sad irony here. Mone passed away at the age of 77 on March 30, 2020, at his home in Brockton, Mass., after battling kidney cancer. In reporting on his death, the Boston Globe noted that Mone, one of the state’s foremost medical malpractice attorneys, was himself impacted by medical malpractice when doctors misdiagnosed a tumor in his kidney. “Mr. Mone settled with the insurance company representing the hospital and radiologists, not because he wanted or needed the money, but to ensure they understood the impact of their error on a patient’s life,” the Globe reported.

As acquaintances and colleagues tell it, Mone’s impact went well beyond his malpractice work. He touched people’s lives in many ways. “We were just a bunch of local kids,” says DelVecchio when she, Mone, and others from the class of ’67 attended Boston College Law School. “I’m going to remember Michael’s incredible, sharp wit. He was one of the funniest people I ever knew.”

“Michael Mone was one of the all-time great Boston litigators,” says Professor and former Law School Dean Daniel R. Coquillette. “He stood for the very best of the bar and was a leader in establishing high standards for lawyers.”

“Michael Mone’s passing is a great loss for us, and his death leaves a tremendous void in the Boston legal community,” says Dean Vincent Rougeau. “He was a sterling example of the kind of men and women we strive to educate at BC Law.”

Mone was a partner in the Boston firm Esdaile, Barrett, Jacobs & Mone. In addition to winning tort settlements and verdicts in the millions of dollars, Mone held honorary doctorates from Middlebury College and Suffolk University. He received the St. Thomas More Award (1999) and the Bar Leadership Award (2006) from Boston College, served as president of the American College of Trial Attorneys and the Massachusetts Bar Association, and was a member of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers and the Massachusetts Joint Bar Committee on Judicial Appointments.

He was exceptionally generous to the BC Law community for more than fifty years. “So many graduates loved and respected Mike. Accordingly, his loyalty to his alma mater took on a greater significance, sending a message across the community about the value of giving back,” says Jessica Cashdan, a former BC Law advancement officer. In honor of the support of Mone and his family, BC Law was pleased to name the Mone Courtyard.

Remarkably and unusually, Mone is known for his representation of lawyers and judges facing professional disciplinary charges, and saved many careers. He never accepted payment for these cases, urging his clients to donate to charity instead. “Lawyers and judges needing counsel sought him out. I know; I was blessed to be one of his clients,” says Richard Campbell ’74. “He was the consummate lawyer, a brilliant scholar and strategist, and a cool and calm voice in moments of profound stress.”

Those like his friend Creedon who knew the private Michael Mone well saw his profound interest in the 20th century battles against European fascism and his appreciation for the US Constitution and the role of the legal system in the American government. “He was unfailingly committed to the just treatment of others,” says his friend Joan Lukey ’74, a partner at Choate, Hall & Stewart. With his encouragement and financial support, his son and law partner Michael Mone Jr. ’96, represented and successfully achieved freedom for several post-9/11 extra-judicial prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.

Mone was born in Brockton in 1942, the son of Edward Mone and June Kelliher. He married Margaret Supple in 1965. She worked as a nurse while he was in law school and tended to him as he faced his end-of-life illness. In addition to his wife and son, Mone is survived by his three brothers and two grandchildren.

“My dad was a legal giant, with few peers in the courtroom,” says his son Michael. “But what I admire most about him was the time he gave to other lawyers who called him for advice. I can’t tell you the number of lawyers who’ve approached me over the years to tell me how thankful they were for the time when they had a question about a case, or an ethical dilemma, and they called my father for advice, and he was there for them. He loved being a lawyer and was fiercely proud of this profession. He extended himself so freely, to so many who needed help, and he did so much good. That’s really his legacy, not the courtroom victories and defeats, but all that he gave back to the bar, both in his leadership, and the advice and counsel he gave to generations of lawyers across this state.”

Photo: Michael Mone and Joan Lukey at a BC Law event in 2016.