Francis Milone, chairman of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius sent the following e-mail to all personnel today, announcing the death of one of the firm's former chairmen, Thomas Lefevre, at the age of 90:
A number of you may have heard that former firm chair Thomas V. Lefevre – one of the legendary “Gang of Four” partners critical to Morgan Lewis’s evolution from a Philadelphia practice into a national firm in the 1970s – has passed away. Tom would have been 91 in December. Our sympathies go out to Tom’s family as we remember this venerable partner’s many significant, lasting contributions to the firm and its success.
Tom’s history at Morgan Lewis began in 1955, when he joined the firm as a tax law associate. He made partner a year later, gaining a reputation as an outstanding lawyer with not only a steel-trap mind for the complex intricacies of tax law, but a gift for making the subject matter understandable to others. In addition, Tom developed a segment of tax practice focused on leveraged lease transactions – the success of which ultimately spawned the opening of our New York office.
Over the course of several years, Tom also emerged as a bold and enthusiastic agent of progress and change at the firm. He co-authored an unsolicited report to firm leadership in 1962, critiquing Morgan Lewis’s high partner-to-associate ratio, its lack of retirement policy and the absence of partnership selection criteria. The report was rejected by many initially but gained respect over time. Quoting an American Lawyer article on the ascent in 1971 of Tom and partners Park Dilks, Robert Young and William Curtin, the firm was “turn[ed] over to a Gang of Four … who proceeded to implement” then-firm chair W. James MacIntosh’s “vision of expansion.”
Born in Dallas on December 5, 1918, Tom graduated from high school at age 16, and earned his B.A. and law degrees from the University of Florida in 1939 and 1942, respectively. He enlisted in the Marines, survived heavy combat in World War II and rose to the rank of major before retiring from the service in 1945 and obtaining his L.L.M. from Harvard the following year.
Before joining Morgan Lewis, Tom practiced as a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell; as a trial lawyer at the IRS; at a Washington, D.C. firm launched by former Sen. Claude Pepper; at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; and finally at Chapman, Bryson, Walsh & O’Connell, where he met Brady Bryson, then a former Morgan Lewis associate who was planning a return to the firm as partner and convinced Tom to join him.
Tom left Morgan Lewis in 1979 to become VP of corporate development for longtime firm client UGI Corp. A year later, he became UGI’s president, and, ultimately, its chairman and CEO – a position he held until his retirement in 1989.
Once again, please join me in offering Tom’s family condolences during this sad time, and in acknowledging the important chapter Tom represents in this firm’s history.