Saying Good-bye To 'The Best'
When it came to clients, he was a tireless worker, Bott said.
"He was well known as a work horse or workaholic, but he loved it," she said. "He had a great passion for the law. Many years ago, he was teased by some of his fellow plaintiffs' lawyers when he was discovered reading court decisions from the Connecticut Law Journal on the beach at a [Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association] conference" in some subtropical setting.
Gallagher had a long history with the CTLA, serving on the board of governors and as president in the early 1990s.
"He edited the CTLA Forum from 1993 to 2002. He took the position seriously and always strived to produce an informative, educational publication," Bott said. "I don't remember the exact year, but in the early 1990s, Bill started giving a review of Supreme and Appellate Court decisions, important to the plaintiffs bar, at the CTLA's annual meeting. This quickly became an event not to be missed."
Patricia King, the state's chief disciplinary counsel worked for Gallagher for a short time about 20 years ago. She described her one-time mentor as an excellent strategist who was always thinking ahead, like a good chess player.
"I learned a lot about how to think about a case from him," King said.
Attorney Steve Ecker of Cowdery, Ecker & Murphy in Hartford observed Gallagher in action for 25 years.
"One of the first cases I ever tried was a paternity case," Ecker said. "Bill represented the defendant. I was a young, inexperienced nobody. He nonetheless treated me like a peer, a colleague."
He continued: "Two other things I saw that made Bill special. One was his ethical backbone. He would never mislead the court or his opponent. He was a very honest person. That is a hard thing to be as a lawyer, at least if you are a fighter. Yet Bill never wavered in his commitment to candor. The second, and related, trait I saw was his decency and respect for his opponent."
Overall, Ecker described Gallagher as an "icon, a larger-than-life figure who provided a constant reminder to all of us of what it meant to be a lawyer."