Quinn Emanuel counsel Steven Edwards, an avid musician, fierce litigator and prominent member of the Federal Bar Society, died due to complications from Covid-19, the firm said.
Edwards, who died on Wednesday at 73, is remembered by current and former colleagues for his commitment to mentoring younger lawyers and his dedication to the many legal, arts, and nonprofit communities he belonged to.
“Steve was a superb lawyer and a wonderful human being,” Quinn Emanuel wrote in an announcement. “His big heart, smile, and passion will be deeply missed.”
Quinn Emanuel partner Sascha N. Rand said Edwards took time with younger associates to “explain from his experience why he was doing things a certain way.”
Edwards began his legal career in 1972 at Cravath, Swaine and Moore after graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law. In 1980, he left to start his own firm, Davis Weber & Edwards, which later became the New York office of Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells).
He led the New York litigation group at Hogan before joining Quinn in 2016. His practice focused on complex commercial litigation, including antitrust, contract disputes, fraud, insurance coverage, intellectual property, and securities litigation.
Edwards held numerous community leadership positions throughout his long legal career, including president of the Federal Bar Council from 1998 to 2000.
“It is hard to know where to start in describing Steve’s dedication to the Federal Bar Council, which he proudly served for over 40 years,” U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil, president of the Federal Bar Council, wrote in an email to members on Thursday.
Edwards also served as president of the Federal Bar Council American Inn of Court and was the founder and editor emeritus of the Federal Bar Council News.
“The world has lost a true Renaissance Man,” Vyskocil wrote. “He was a natural nurturer, connection maker, and a deeply caring, compassionate person. He became an instant friend, with his ability to connect immediately with people. He was devoted to his family.”
Edwards was also a “passionate champion for social justice,” according to Quinn Emanuel. He served on the board and as treasurer of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, as president of Nazareth Housing, and was honored by the Pro Bono Partnership for his pro bono legal work.
In one of his most notable pro bono wins, Edwards took on the city’s public housing agency on behalf of residents who had been sickened by mold in their homes, according to Hogan Lovells CEO Stephen J. Immelt.
“He was always the first to volunteer to help those in need, to mentor and teach associates, to contribute his talents to deserving causes, and to take a personal interest in the success of everyone around him,” Immelt wrote in an internal firm email informing Hogan Lovells personnel of Edwards’ death.
The son of classically trained musicians, Edwards grew up in Iowa with a deep love of music that he nurtured long before embarking on a career in the law. In 1963, he helped form The Stompers, a British-influenced rock band that played a regular circuit of ballrooms in eastern Iowa and opened for the Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry.
In recent years, Edwards could be found playing bass with his band, the Law Dogs, and supporting The Jazz Foundation of America, where he served on the board. In 2006, The Stompers were inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Lyndon Tretter, a partner at Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch who worked with Edwards for nearly two decades and considered him a mentor, described Edwards as an “enthusiastic performer” who always had a band at any given time.
“Steve was a happy warrior,” said Tretter. “He liked nothing more than intellectual debate and hard work in the law. He just loved the law and he loved the people that were in it. He would even love his adversaries.”