September 19, 2007
Association Mourns Passing of Former Chancellor Gittis
It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor and legal giant, Howard Gittis. A trailblazer of our profession in every sense of the word, Gittis was an accomplished attorney and a dynamic leader who believed that "courage is the quality which guarantees all others."
A champion of judicial independence, Gittis worked tirelessly to defend judges from unfair criticism and to address inequities in judicial compensation. At a time when women attorneys were far fewer in number, he advocated for the advancement of women in the profession, tapping a significant number of women to lead key positions in the Association's committee structure.
Gittis believed that lawyers have a civic responsibility that goes beyond serving clients. He maintained that they should not isolate themselves from community leaders who are involved in the issues of the day, and invited dozens of organization representatives to join Bar Association committees and lend their voices. Likewise, he worked to demystify the law for countless Philadelphia residents by organizing mock trial events in the community and by inviting the public to weigh legal issues for themselves.
"This association is not the province of any one person or any one group. It is an association of a diverse group of lawyers all bound together by a common love and respect for the law," Gittis told Bar members at the Association's Annual Meeting prior to becoming Chancellor in 1983.
While serving as a corporate chair, president, chief executive officer and director in New York, Gittis remained a lifelong supporter of higher education locally. Our Association and our legal community have benefited greatly from the indelible contributions of Howard Gittis.
_Jane Leslie Dalton_