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William B. McGuire '58

William B. McGuire, 1929 to 2015

Bill McGuire was a staunch supporter of Seton Hall Law throughout his remarkable legal career


Seton Hall Law mourns the death of William B. McGuire ’58, who passed away the evening of May 12. In a message to the Seton Hall Law community, Dean Designate Kathleen M. Boozang wrote, “Bill was a pillar of the legal community, the Catholic Church, and his alma mater, Seton Hall Law, all of which he dearly loved. We have all been the grateful beneficiaries of his faith, wisdom and endless reserve of energy. We will remember Bill as the consummate gentleman – who among us was not a recipient of his charm and grace.”

Mr. McGuire was the founding Chair of the Seton Hall Law Board of Visitors, serving in the role from 2004 to 2008. He was a founding partner of Tompkins, McGuire, Wachenfeld & Barry in Newark, and practiced in the areas of complex insurance coverage, professional liability defense, directors and officers lawsuits, class actions, and securities law. He earned a Bachelor of Science from Fordham University, a Juris Doctor from Seton Hall Law School and a Master of Laws in Taxation from New York University.

In 2011, Mr. McGuire described how he came to be a part of the Seton Hall Law family:

In 1953, I finished my tour of duty with the U.S. Army and decided to apply to Seton Hall Law School. An appointment was made with then Dean Miriam T. Rooney and I was instructed to bring my college transcript. In those days, Dean Rooney singlehandedly assumed control of all administrative responsibilities: admissions, finances, teaching, etc. Indeed, I fondly remember Dean Rooney collecting 10 cents from each of us for our blue books – exact change was required.

Following a relatively brief interview, she admitted me to the Law School and told me I should attend their summer program (about two weeks away). Of course, I complied with her ‘suggestion.’ I attended the ‘night school’ with only 35 other first year night students and worked as chief accountant of an insurance company during the day.

I have . . . many happy memories of my Law School experience.”

After graduating in 1958, Mr. McGuire’s legal career flourished over the decades, culminating in his founding Tompkins, McGuire in 1994. He continued to serve as a staunch supporter of Seton Hall Law. In 1984, Seton Hall Law named him Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, and in 1986, he became Seton Hall’s first recipient of the St. Thomas More Award, given annually at the Red Mass.

When asked what drove his dedication to Seton Hall Law, Mr. McGuire replied, “Seton Hall Law gave me an opportunity to practice in the noblest profession of all. The Law School has come a long way since I was a student attending classes on Clinton Street. Now it’s our obligation to continue to move it forward.”

Patrick C. Dunican Jr. ’91, current Chair of the Board of Visitors, and Chairman and Managing Director of Gibbons P.C., said, “Bill will be remembered by his peers as a lion of the bar – a tireless and effective advocate for his clients. We would frequently talk about issues confronting the legal industry in general, and our firms in particular. But I know him best for his extensive work on behalf of our alma mater, Seton Hall Law. As the Founding Chair of the Seton Hall Law Board of Visitors in 2004, he was instrumental in bringing together a select group of alumni and business leaders to assist in building a strategic plan and in mobilizing a capital campaign to support the school's growth. His leadership and vision helped the school ascend to where it is today. I am proud to have been able to work closely with, and learn from, such a legendary figure. I will miss him.”

Mr. McGuire served as President of the New Jersey State Bar Association in 1994-95. He was named a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and of the International Society of Barristers. He was a Diplomate of the American Board of Trial Advocates. In addition, Mr. McGuire was a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, where he was State Chair of the New Jersey Fellows for five years and served as Chair of the Nominating and Election Committees.

James C. Orr ’64, a fellow member of the Seton Hall Law Board of Visitors, joined the firm where Mr. McGuire was working as an Associate in 1965. Mr. Orr wrote of him, “Bill’s work ethic was unparalleled, and he was a ready example of leadership to the younger lawyers and to all partners in the firm. His professional achievements were voluminous, always with one simple goal: the protection of our profession.”

Dean Hobbs concluded, “Bill McGuire gave of himself in innumerable ways. His kindness, humor, wisdom and commitment to service were an inspiration to all of us – helping us to fulfill the mission of our Law School and to keep Seton Hall Law ever rising. We are honored that Bill was part of our family. He will always remain a vital part of our legacy.”

Funeral Information

Bill's family will receive friends and relatives at the Quinn-Hopping Funeral Home of Livingston, 145 E. Mt. Pleasant Ave., on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. Everyone is invited on Monday directly to Christ the King Church, 16 Blue Mill Rd., New Vernon, N.J., where the Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. The entombment service will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, East Hanover, New Jersey.