Colorado Law Mourns Alum Bill McClearn

May 15, 2012

The Colorado Law community is deeply saddened by the passing of Bill McClearn. A 1951 graduate of Colorado Law, McClearn was class president, member of the Law Review, and worked part-time as a law clerk at Holland & Hart during law school. After working in the Air Force JAG during the Korean War, he was hired by Holland & Hart as an associate in 1954, later becoming partner in 1957.

“Holland & Hart has had many of the best lawyers in the country practice law here, but Bill was the best of the best,” said John Husband, chairman of Holland & Hart. “He set the standard for ethics, integrity, professional courtesy, and all the highest qualities we most admire in people and lawyers.”

“Bill was a true legend,” said Phil Weiser, dean of Colorado Law. “His contributions to the legal community set the standard for professionalism and integrity. I regret I never had the opportunity to meet him personally.”   

McClearn specialized in antitrust litigation, representing many high-profile cases, arguing some in the United States Supreme Court.

“We have lost a giant in our profession,” said Robert F. Hill (‘70), co-founder of Hill & Robbins, P.C. “Bill truly set the standard across the board and was a role model for many of us. Because Bill taught me so much, I have often said I should have received CLE credits for the antitrust cases I worked on with him.”

McClearn complemented his law career with civic engagement, serving as president of the Denver and Colorado Bar Associations and a delegate to the American Bar Association Board of Governors. He received every award for distinguished service given by the bar, and was a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Bar Foundation, and the Colorado Bar Foundation. Colorado Law honored McClearn with the William Lee Knous Award in 1990. 

“Bill was always available to help out younger lawyers, and his judgment was impeccable,” said Husband, who was mentored by McClearn. “As a young lawyer, I often sought out Bill’s advice.”

Judge R. Brooke Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado spoke of McClearn’s integrity: “Bill set the standard for professionalism, civility, courtesy, ethics, and all the qualities we should most admire about a lawyer.”

McClearn is remembered as a leader at Holland & Hart and of the Colorado legal profession, even after his retirement in 1988. A room in Colorado Law’s Wolf Law Building is named after him.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to the Colorado Bar Foundation