La Salle College High School extends deepest sympathy to the family of Denis James Lawler, Esq. '66. Denis passed away from cancer on April 7, 2021. A beloved father, grandfather, brother, and son, Denis was preceded in death by his father, James Francis, and is survived by his beloved mother Marie, his daughter, Kristin (Stephen Lovekin), sons Shane and Jason, grandchildren Lucas, Callie, Olivia, and Melanie, siblings Marie (Keidel), Terence '69, Rory '73, Timothy '75, Jamie Ann (Rosati), and Brendan '83, his former wife Pamela Rainey Lawler, and by many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Born in West Philadelphia, Denis grew up in Roxborough and attended Immaculate Heart of Mary elementary school. He was a member of the Class of 1966 at La Salle College High School and continued his education at Saint Joseph's University and Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, where he was editor of the Law Review before earning his J.D. in 1973.
He was a partner at Archer & Grenier, P.C., from August 2014 until his passing. Before that, he was of counsel and partner at Blank Rome LLP from 1993 until joining Archer. He was a partner at Rubin, Quinn, Moss, and Patterson from 1980 until 1993, and began his career practicing alongside his father, James Francis Lawler, as a Shareholder at Ostroff & Lawler, from 1973 to 1980.
Denis was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. A highly respected and warmly admired trust and estates attorney, Mr. Lawler was known for his brilliant legal mind, his dry wit, and his great integrity. In the words of his law partner, former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, "Denis never felt the necessity to trumpet his achievements. He just practiced estate litigation with intellect, style, and great calm. Yes, he was a tough opponent and very gifted, but he never felt the need or desire to advertise his talents. He let his work speak for him. Judges knew he was always over prepared and would deliver a stellar product for his clients while providing The Court with sound judgments and ample legal authority to support the opinions they wrote, often in his favor. Denis was sweet, often puckish, whip-smart, and a fine practitioner."
Denis served as a member of La Salle College High School's Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2014. He was awarded the McClanaghan Award from Saint Joseph's University Law Alumni, for outstanding work in the profession and commitment to the University. He served as Treasurer of the University of Pennsylvania Law School American Inn of Court and was a member of the Board of the Historical Society of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He was a founding board member of Philabundance and, in fact, named Philabundance.
Denis died peacefully in his loft apartment with the dignity, matter-of-factness, and grace with which he lived his life. A private interment for the family will be held at St. John Neumann Cemetery. There will also be a larger Celebration of Life for Denis's many friends and colleagues at North Hills Country Club on Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 3:00 pm. Flowers and condolences can be sent to Reed and Steinbach Funeral Home. Donations in Denis's name can be made to CASA and to Philabundance.