While returning to law after losing the election for a fourth term as New York City mayor in 1989 was the "logical next step," Edward Koch said in his 1999 autobiography, he admitted that "if you had asked me I might have told you I never expected to go back to the practice of law."
The lawKoch wrote in "I'm Not Done Yet!""would not make me happy. There would have to be other activities to consume my energy, interest and talents."
Koch, who died on Feb. 1 at 88, said his prospective colleagues realized he would never litigate or become an expert in any one field.
Celebrating his 85th birthday and his 20th anniversary with Bryan Cave at the St. Regis on Nov. 18, 2009, Koch poses with former Senator Alphonse DAmato, at left, and Bryan Cave partners James Gill and Vincent Alfieri. NYLJ/Rick Kopstein
"My value to any firm would be to bring in clients and open doors, since I knew so many people in and out of government," he wrote. "I would be a kind of goodwill ambassador for the firm in general, and provide strategic and tactical advice, particularly to those seeking to do business with the city."
And for the next 23 years at Robinson, Silverman, Pearce, Aronsohn & Berman, which merged with Bryan Cave, Koch provided strategic advice to clients, helped woo them and develop the firm's reputation, while pursuing his interests outside the law, such as writing books, newspaper columns and movie reviews, as well as appearing as a judge on TV's "The People's Court" and hosting a talk radio show.
"We didn't have him in the library looking up cases or drafting memorandum," said James Gill, Koch's close friend and longtime law partner. "But we exposed him to clients and they were very glad to get his thoughts and ideas."
"He brought to our firm a depth of not just knowledge but wisdom about the city and business in the city that was unmatched by anyone else" said Vincent Alfieri, managing partner of Bryan Cave's New York office who said Koch came into the office every day. "His value and his contributions were as a counselor, a person with that kind of deep and broad knowledge of how government and business work together."
Alfieri said Koch's role wasn't necessarily to make a phone call or open a door, but offer the wisdom that he had gathered in years of public service. He would advise companies who were in litigation or contemplating litigation or who had a problematic business arrangement, Alfieri said.
"Certainly some clients were attracted to us because Ed was here," he said.