Bill McClearn ('51)

Legends of the Month Jan '13

The Colorado Law community lost a dear friend and supporter, 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, and became a partner at the firm in 1957.

John Husband, chairman of Holland & Hart, spoke of his former mentor’s character and contribution to the firm with highest praise. “Holland & Hart has had many of the best lawyers in the country practice law here,” remarked Husband, “but Bill was the best of the best.” Husband recalled how the senior veteran invested in the firm’s less experienced attorneys. “Bill was always available to help out younger lawyers, and his judgment was impeccable.”

McClearn specialized in antitrust litigation, and appeared in many high-profile cases, arguing some before 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.”

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

Even those who never personally met McClearn knew of his reputation and character. “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.”  

McClearn complemented his law career with active civic engagement, serving as president of the Denver and Colorado Bar Associations and as 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, and a room in Colorado Law’s Wolf Law Building is named after him. In addition, the William C. McClearn Scholarship Endowment Fund at Colorado Law provides support for a current law student who reflects McClearn’s values, with special consideration for demonstrated strength of character, high integrity, intellectual ability, academic excellence, and commitment to community service.

Donate to the William C. McClearn Scholarship Endowment Fund