For decades, there was perhaps no lawyer who was the face of Faegre & Benson more than John French. John was a truly remarkable lawyer, recognized across the country for his expertise in antitrust law. He was also a great friend and colleague to hundreds of lawyers who had the privilege of calling him their partner over the years. John passed away on August 18, 2012, after a lengthy illness that he battled to the end.
John graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1955. After attending Oxford University on a Rotary fellowship, John graduated from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, in 1960. While in law school, he was President of the Harvard Law Review, and his class included many who would go on to become legends, including Antonin Scalia, Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; the late Richard Arnold, former Chief Judge of the Eighth Circuit; and Michael Dukakis, former governor of Massachusetts and the democratic nominee for U.S. President in 1988. After law school, John clerked for Justice Felix Frankfurter on the U.S. Supreme Court. He then became a legal assistant to Commissioner Philip Elman on the Federal Trade Commission. John joined Faegre & Benson in 1963 and became a partner in 1967. His main expertise was antitrust law, but he was adept at all manners of complex commercial litigation. He argued several cases to the United States Supreme Court. He served on Faegre & Benson's management committee for 20 years, and was the chair of the management committee for five of those years. John retired from the practice of law at the end of 2003, after a 40-year career, but remained active in retirement, writing book reviews for the Key West Citizen.
More important than all of this, he was a first-rate human being. John was the calm at the center of any legal storm in which he was involved. He was a true gentleman to everyone, and he has left his indelible mark on our firm as the model of who we want lawyers to be as people.
John's contributions to our firm will never be forgotten. Our condolences go to his wife B.J. and his family. May he rest in peace.