Francis J. “Frank” Lorson, a longtime member of the Board of Visitors of the Columbus School of Law, passed away on Friday, January 11, 2013. He was 69.
Lorson was a double-graduate of The Catholic University of America, earning his AB in 1966 and his JD in 1971. Following law school, Lorson began a distinguished 30-year career at the Supreme Court of the United States, starting as an assistant clerk in January 1972. He was appointed deputy clerk in April 1974 and finally chief deputy clerk in January 1981.
Among his duties was the escort of each new Justice into the courtroom for their investiture, from Justice Stevens in 1975 to Justice Breyer in 1994. (Left, Lorson greeting Justice Anthony Kennedy at CUA Law in 2002).
Lorson handled many notable cases before his retirement in 2002, including the death penalty case of Gary Gilmore, the Iranian assets question, Bush v. Gore, Bakke v. Regents of the University of California, Hogan v. Mississippi State University, United States v. Nixon, and Clinton v. Paula Jones.
He was generous with his vast knowledge of the administration of courts, sharing his expertise especially with the court systems of post-Communist Eastern Europe. He visited the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation in May 1995 at the invitation of that court to learn how it functioned and to make recommendations. From 1996 through 1998 he also took part in workshops for judges of constitutional courts of Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, Latvia, and Azerbaijan. In September 2002, he was invited by the State Department to join a judicial visit to Belgrade to assess the state of the Serbian judiciary.
“Frank Lorson has been a treasure to the court and everyone who practices there,” said former Solicitor General Ted Olson in a Washington Post article announcing Lorson’s retirement in September 2002.
He was held in the same esteem by the CUA Law community. For decades, he supported the law school with his wisdom, guidance, and presence at law school events. As a member of the advisory Board of Visitors, Lorson helped to strengthen the academic program and educational goals of the law school.
Lorson served as a VISTA volunteer in Appalachia during the 1960s. He was a member of the Federal Bar Association, serving as president of the Capitol Hill Chapter in 1988.
A memorial service celebrating Lorson’s life was held on Jan. 17 at the Immaculate Conception Church in Washington, D.C. Five current Justices of the Supreme Court attended. Chief Justice John Roberts spoke, as did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who read excerpts from correspondence with Lorson over the years.
The National Law Journal also published a tribute to Lorson on Jan. 14.
Friends Remember Frank J. Lorson
“Frank represented the best of our community. He was always ready to provide thoughtful and wise counsel on a range of issues regarding the law school through his longstanding service on the law school's Board of Visitors, and he gave generously of his time and treasure to our students and his fellow alumni in countless ways. Catholic will always be blessed by the amazing goodwill he shared with us as a leading and highly respected member of the greater D.C. bar community. We will miss Frank dearly and remember him lovingly.”
- Veryl V. Miles, Professor of Law & Dean, 2005-2012
“Frank was a constant presence at Law School events, with his ever-present smile and sunny disposition. We shared many meals together during his tenure as a member of our Inn of Court. I witnessed first-hand his generous contribution of time and counsel to many students. He made my life better.”
- Louis Barracato, Professor of Law