Pulse: Chatter: Grave Digs

“It was,” says one person in attendance, “the first-ever eulogy as attack ad.”

The setting: the recent funeral of legendary Philly attorney Alan Davis. The eulogizer: Ballard Spahr chairman Arthur Makadon. The reaction from those on hand: astonishment. As another attendee puts it, “How many times do you hear a eulogy that ends up being an attack on people sitting in the room?”

Davis, who passed away in early May at the age of 70, was one of the most admired members of the local bar, having amassed an impressive career as both a private litigator (he was a partner at Wolf Block, then at Ballard Spahr) and public servant (assistant DA under Arlen Specter; city solicitor under mayor Bill Green). So it was no surprise that the city’s heaviest hitters — including Specter, Green and Ed Rendell — showed up at Goldsteins’ funeral home on North Broad to pay their respects.

What was a surprise was Makadon’s eulogy. Speaking after Specter and Green, he at first talked glowingly of Davis—then suddenly launched into an attack on Wolf Block, the firm Davis left in 1991, 30 years after he joined. According to several attendees, Makadon — as many of the firm’s partners looked on — talked about what a great place “the old Wolf Block” had been, implying with little subtlety that the current firm is no such thing. Makadon then made reference to two unnamed partners he seems to see as responsible for the changes at Wolf Block and for Davis’s departure. When the rant was over, he looked skyward and said, “That’s one mission accomplished, Alan.”

Tongues started wagging before the first shivah guest arrived — not only about the remarks themselves, but also about who the unnamed partners might be. Makadon confirms he was referring to Charlie Kopp and Robert Segal, both of whom were in attendance. (Kopp and Segal declined to comment.)

Makadon says reports of his death speech have been greatly exaggerated. “It took about three seconds,” he insists. “I did it because Alan loved Wolf Block. And there were some people there who didn’t reciprocate.” Did his “mission accomplished” line suggest that he and Davis — who was hospitalized for weeks prior to his death — planned the polemic together? Ever the lawyer, Makadon won’t say, exactly. “I told Alan I’d do something,” he says. “I don’t mean to be elliptical, but that’s my only comment.”

In any case, it’s not something many mourners are likely to soon forget. “It was like a new art form,” marvels one. “If it wasn’t such a grim event, I’d look forward to the next one.”

Comments on this story? Please send them to us.