It’s not every lawyer who could tuck a searing Lewis Carroll quip into a reply brief. But David Straus was not your typical lawyer.
Wry and witty, dedicated to and beloved by his longstanding clients, David managed Thompson Coburn’s Washington, D.C., office for 12 years before stepping back from that position in 2010. He passed away on January 15, at the age of 66, after a long battle with cancer.
David began his law career in 1970 at the general counsel’s office of the U.S. Post Office Department. He carved out a unique niche in postal regulatory law, carrying that expertise into private practice in 1973. There, David developed a second area of specialized expertise: utility regulation. During his decades of legal service, David represented a number of business publishers and municipal utility systems. Industry groups such as American Municipal Power and American Business Media honored him multiple times with service and lifetime achievement awards. Beneath those accolades were David’s decades-long personal and professional relationships with clients of all backgrounds.
During David’s illness, many of those longtime clients visited him at his family’s home near Old Town Alexandria. “He was very devoted to his clients and his clients were devoted to him,” said D.C. partner Bonnie Blair, who has known David for 35 years. “He represented their interests so well and so enthusiastically. He clearly made their causes his causes.”
Gary Newell, a partner in the D.C. office who began working with David in 1978, described David as having an “intuitive intelligence.” “He could rip through an opponent’s brief in minutes, zeroing in very quickly on the critical weaknesses in the other side's case,” Newell said.
David greatly appreciated lively writing, and he was a skilled practitioner of the craft. He was well known for weaving on-target witticisms into his own pleadings. On one occasion, David likened an opponent’s relentless repetition of an otherwise unsupported argument to that of the protagonist in Lewis Carroll’s poem, “The Hunting of the Snark.” “Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice: That alone should encourage the crew. Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice. What I tell you three times is true.”
David’s friends and colleagues will miss him greatly.
Click here to read David’s obituary in the Washington Post.
A memorial service will be held for David Straus at 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 28, at The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314. The family has requested that donations in David’s memory be made to the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).