Harry Hirsch, the Deputy Bar Counsel at the Virginia State Bar, spent 27 years in the VSB disciplinary department, longer than any other lawyer.
Just before he retired this week, he was feted by his colleagues at the VSB, both past and present. Most of the professional staff of the bar made it to his retirement bash yesterday, as did a host of the bar investigators with whom he worked and developed cases.
Former VSB Executive Director Thomas A. Edmonds was there too, and he remarked that Hirsch had developed the reputation as “the go-to guy in the professional regulation department.”
Hirsch brought “patience and perseverance” to the job of enforcing the bar’s disciplinary rules, a task that sometimes saw him pursuing “serial killers and miscreants,” Edmonds said.
Two lawyers who served as Bar Counsel offered their tribute to Hirsch. Michael L. Rigsby called him “a consummate gentleman,” while Barbara Ann Williams said Hirsch had been “a trusted advisor and the institutional memory of the bar.”
At least one of the speakers quoted Hirsch’s trademark line, “Are we having fun yet?” – his way of breaking the tension of trial preparation and keeping the mood as light as possible. It was also noted that Hirsch has a habit of saying, “Isn’t that interesting?” when he hears something bordering on dumb.
Hirsch was joined at the party by his wife Lois, his son Ari, his daughter Dara and his brother Jack. When he got his turn to speak, Hirsch simply noted, “I am having fun.” And he added that “working at the bar has been an honor, first and foremost.”
He paid tribute to Gwen Evans, his longtime secretary. “If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here smiling and raring to go,” Hirsch said to Evans.
There was one last speaker. Hirsch and U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis W. Dohnal became friends years ago while working on bar matters, particularly the revision of the ethics rules in the late 1990s. Dohnal dusted off a character he had used at VSB meetings back in the day – Moses, the giver of rules such as the Ten Commandments.
This time, Moses had one just commandment for Hirsch and his wife: “Thou Shalt Party Down!”
After delivering this rule, Moses said he had to run, since he needed “to go part the James River before rush hour.”
Harry and Lois Hirsch should have little trouble complying. The bar’s party organizers passed the hat among the lawyers and staff and collected enough money to give the Hirsches gift cards for a mountain getaway to the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.