David Springer - In Memoriam

The firm regrets to announce that David Springer, a nationally prominent complex litigation partner in the Chicago office, died on June 19 at his home after a long battle with cancer. He is survived by his partner of 17 years, Bill Strausberger, Ph.D, a Research Associate at the Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Biology at the Field Museum of Natural History. David’s devotion to his profession was surpassed only by his love and commitment to his partner, family and friends.

A summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale College in 1974, David earned his law degree from Yale in 1977 and was a partner in the business litigation department at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago before joining the firm in 1986. In recent years, he was a key part of the defense team that represented various leading investment banks in the WorldCom securities litigation, one of the largest securities cases in history. David also represented Kmart Corporation in appellate matters arising in its successful Chapter 11 reorganization and Waste Management, Inc. in various securities litigation matters. Most recently, he led the litigation team for Delphi Corporation in its Chapter 11 reorganization cases. In the early 1980s, David headed the successful worldwide efforts to protect Atari, Inc.’s intellectual property rights. His cases have resulted in more than 40 published opinions, many concerning front-line legal issues. 

"He had a very good sense of the law and the litigation process and an extraordinary ability to calibrate other human beings," Chicago office leader Wayne Whalen told the Chicago Tribune. "Quiet, thoughtful and forceful. He was very firm in his views about how things should be done." Wayne added that David remained one of the hardest-working attorneys at the firm even during his illness, saying, "He and I talked about this, and he told me, 'I enjoy my life most when I'm practicing law.'" 

David was also well known in the legal community for his devotion to legal ethics and his mentoring of younger lawyers in legal writing and trial advocacy. He published numerous articles promoting a best practices approach to legal ethics including in publications of the Ethics and Professionalism Committee of the ABA Section of Litigation. In the Summer 2005 edition of Litigation Ethics, he wrote, "Since ‘exact certainty’ is impossible in legal matters, and the legal profession depends, after all, on opinions being ‘divided,’ the most ethical advocates are also the most effective." 

A constitutional scholar who loved the law, David was committed to protecting the rights of the indigent and disadvantaged in numerous pro bono cases spanning his entire career. In 1996, together with Lambda Legal, he represented a Wisconsin high school student who had been subjected to relentless anti-gay verbal and physical abuse in a groundbreaking case arguing that schools have a responsibility to protect students from anti-gay verbal and physical abuse. This historic victory was the first legal challenge to anti-gay violence in public schools, resulted in a million-dollar verdict and settlement and led to an explosion in legal advocacy for LGBTQ youth. 

More recently, David successfully represented a Lithuanian mother to reunite her with her six-year-old daughter taken illegally from Lithuania to the United States by the child’s father, who had also physically and emotionally abused the child. 

David was a past member of the Executive Committee of the Yale Law School Association and the boards of directors of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and The Hubbard Street Dance Company, and was a member of The Chicago Club and The City Club of Chicago. He was also a member of numerous legal associations and organizations across the United States including charter membership in the Trial Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 

In addition to his partner, David is survived by his father, Edward Springer, and his sister, Annette Springer.