It is with a great deal of sadness the firm announces the passing of one of its founding partners, Donald W. Rees. Don passed peacefully with his family around him on Sunday, July 17, 2022 after a full and remarkable life.
Don graduated from Stanford Law School in 1962. He practiced law in Los Angeles for four years and later joined a San Francisco-based firm, which became Fields Gordon & Rees.
In October 1974, Don and his partner Stuart Gordon opened Gordon & Rees in San Francisco. Don’s primary practice was fidelity and surety law representing many of the leading insurers and reinsurers doing business in the United States. Don received a number of honors including an AV-Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, Super Lawyers® distinction in the field of Insurance, and Best Lawyers in America® distinction in Insurance Law.
Rees and Gordon set out to create Gordon & Rees as a law firm dedicated to providing outstanding client service with an internal culture of respect, support, and camaraderie. The firm has grown steadily through the years and today is home to more than 1,100 attorneys, has 74 offices in all 50 states, and is the 24th largest law firm in the country.
“It has made us so proud to realize how our dream has come true in so many ways. Don can rest in peace knowing we accomplished everything we hoped for, and even so much more, all the time steering the firm in the right direction. He will always be in my thoughts and in my heart for I was so lucky to have the experience to work with him for more than 52 years,” said founding partner, Stu Gordon.
In addition to his fidelity and surety law practice, Don lectured and wrote extensively and participated in many programs sponsored by various groups, including the Practicing Law Institute, ABA, the Defense Research Institute, FDCC, and IACP. Over the course of his career, Don was a member in the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel's Life, Health & Disability section. He served on the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, and as chair of the Coverage section. Don was also a member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Defense Counsel of Northern California.
“Don was one of the principal pillars upon which the foundation of the firm rested. He will always be remembered fondly for his warmth, good humor and encyclopedic knowledge of the law. His respectful and collegial treatment of everyone established a professional standard that we all have aspired to follow closely over the past nearly 50 years of Gordon & Rees’ existence,” said firmwide managing partner Dion Cominos.
By any measure, Don had a remarkable career, full of interesting cases and legal successes. He was proud of the firm he built, but his real love was reserved for his family – his children Matthew and Johanna, their spouses, and his two grandchildren.
Don was a devoted sports fan and followed the Indiana Hoosiers and the Stanford Cardinal with particular interest. He also enjoyed attending concerts and educational travel.
We will remember Don as a great lawyer, and most importantly, a friend. We are all better for having known him.
A celebration of life is scheduled for mid-August in Northern California.