Brooklyn Boro

Remembering Richard Woodward Hulbert, influential attorney and active supporter of Brooklyn institutions

July 29, 2020 Editorial Staff
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Richard Woodward Hulbert, an attorney and Brooklyn resident who was an active supporter of Brooklyn charities, died on July 8 at the age of 90.

Hulbert was born on Sept. 24, 1929 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and grew up in Somerville. After three years as a scholarship student at Phillips Academy, he entered Harvard in 1947. He majored in Roman history, played on the soccer team, and debated with rising young English politicians and with inmates at a Massachusetts reformatory.

After graduating summa cum laude, he enjoyed 10 months of travel in Western Europe and North Africa on a Sheldon Fellowship that contributed to his interest in other countries and cultures. During his three years at Harvard Law School, he fell in love, got engaged and married, and became a father.

After graduating magna cum laude from law school in 1955, he took a job with Cleary, Gottlieb, Friendly, and Hamilton, a recently founded New York City law firm, where he spent the rest of his professional life. He became a partner in 1966 and served as managing partner for five years, starting in 1979.

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His legal experience was varied, including work on behalf of the Beatles. In 1981, he successfully represented his client MITE Corporation in a Supreme Court appeal involving the constitutionality of the Illinois Business Take-Over Act.

From 1983 to 1989, he worked in the firm’s Paris office. His law practice led to a concentration on international litigation and arbitration, and while still actively practicing law, he became a part-time adjunct professor in that field, first at the UC Berkeley School of Law and then for more than 20 years at NYU Law School, with a brief term as a visiting professor at the American University of Armenia.

Hulbert was the American vice chair of the Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris for six years, as well as a member of the American Law Institute.

In addition to his professional activities, he was a supporter of Brooklyn charities, serving as a trustee of the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. He was also a director of the Cunningham Dance Foundation.

His favorite pastime was hiking in the White Mountains, and he was an enthusiastic tennis player and skier.

He is survived by his companion, Marilane Spencer, and four children: a son, Jonathan, and three daughters, Ann, Laura, and Mary Hulbert; as well as seven grandchildren. His wife of 55 years, Dorothy Hanni, predeceased him in 2009.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, Alabama 36104.

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