MCLAUGHLIN: At times they would fight
like cats and birds, and at other times, they
got along very, very well, and they would
work together and try cases together.
BEASLEY JR.: As I got older, as I got a little
more mature, we started to get closer.
And towards the end we were as close as
possible, even though he would still bitch
about the flying. He thought some of the
stuff I was doing was a little bit too crazy.
Beasley Sr. became ill in 2004 and died of
lymphoma complications on September 18
of that year. Colleagues were shocked—it
happened so quickly. Most thought he’d
LAURICELLA: We always used to say,
“Jim’s going to die with his boots on“—
and [he] did. He literally tried a six-week
medical malpractice case in the heat of
summer with advanced cancer. I’m 55.
I just tried a two-week trial up in Lehigh
County with my partner Slade. After four
days, we were both wiped. Trial is a very
grueling thing. Here’s Jim trying a six-week case, 78 years old, with cancer.
KLINE: The last time I saw Jim was in
2004. He was trying a case and I ran into
him in the elevator. On our fourth-floor
elevator ride—I was going to the sixth
floor—he complained about some rulings
that the judge had made.
BENNE TT: Shortly after Jim Beasley died,
there was a daylong celebration of his life at
his law firm. Most of the top trial lawyers in
Philadelphia, many of whom had worked at
the firm and been mentored by Jim, attended
to honor him and pay their respects.
After Beasley died, his son took over the
firm. At first, some doubted he could do it.
BEASLEY JR.: A lot of people knew me as a
screwup. When I started here as an attorney,
my dad didn’t give me a secretary or a
paralegal. I was on my own. I joke that I’m
the best typist here. It’s true. I’m sure there
were some thinking, “There’s that punk,“
and there were others thinking, “Hey, he’s
working pretty hard.“
MCLAUGHLIN: Jim Jr. had awfully big
shoes to try to fill and frankly I don’t
know that anyone could fill those shoes
and it would be in a tough position for
anyone to be in. That’s all I’ll say.
BEASLEY JR.: It was particularly
frightening for me, because I was only 37
at the time. If you think about the time
when he passed away, it was when Bush
was running for re-election, tort reform
was all over the place. My biggest question
was, “What am I going to do?“ I knew
there’d be a bit of a honeymoon and I
knew everybody’s going to take shots at
you. I expected it and it happened. We just
tried to get this thing focused, efficient
and pointed towards playing the long ball
game and not the short term. In the end,
the formula seemed to work. Ten years
later, we’re here. We’re thriving.
It took time for Beasley and some of his
protégés who had left his firm to redevelop
their friendships. But later in life, he talked
about them warmly in the context of his
KLINE: He and I had what he described
to me as a father-and-son relationship,
and he was disappointed that I left the
firm. Shanin and I went on to build a
very large and strong personal-injury
firm, and years later, in talking about his
career, Jim said that one of the things
he was proud of was being part of the
training of many of the city’s great
lawyers—something like that. I took that
to mean that he was happy to take credit
for contributing to our success.
MCLAUGHLIN: A good number of the
well-recognized trial lawyers in the city of
Philadelphia today came out of the Beasley
shop. Most everybody who is anybody was
part of that firm at some point. He trained
an awful lot of good lawyers.
LAURICELLA: Here’s how you can tell
a Beasley lawyer and somebody else:
Beasley lawyers will always refer to the
jurors as “folks.“ We’ll never call them
“ladies and gentlemen of the jury.“ We’ll
always call them “folks.“
Most of the top trial lawyers in Philadelphia,”
says Bennett, “attended [the celebration of
Beasley’s life] to honor him and pay their respects.”