With much sadness we report the passing of our former partner, colleague and good friend, Jeff Shields. Jeff passed away on Saturday evening at his home in Guilford, Vermont in the company of his loving wife and lifelong companion, Genie, following a valiant battle with cancer.
Jeff joined Gardner, Carton & Douglas on March 1, 1976, and was elected to the partnership in 1979. In the course of his distinguished 28 year career with the firm, Jeff established a national reputation for his experience in tax-exempt financings, corporate and securities law, health care law and international trade law. Jeff served as Chairman of GCD’s Management Committee from 1998 – 2000. He was a much admired and highly respected leader of the firm and was deeply committed to building a vibrant community of professionals. Prior to joining GCD, Jeff served as assistant counsel to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as counsel and foreign policy advisor to Senator Frank Church from 1973 - 1976. He received his B.A. in economics, magna cum laude, from Harvard University in 1967, and his J.D. in 1972 from Yale Law School, where he was editor of the Yale Law Journal. Jeff also served as a law clerk to Judge James L. Oakes of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit from 1972 - 1973.
Jeff was a recipient of the firm’s James H. Douglas, Jr. award in recognition of his extraordinary commitment to community service. He served as Chairman of the Board of Lake Forest College, honorary life Director of the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, and board member of The Shedd Aquarium, Bennington College, the Chicago Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Association, among others.
Jeff left the firm in August of 2004 to become the 7th dean and the president of the Vermont Law School. By all accounts, Jeff brought sweeping changes to the law school and catapulted the school to a position of greater national prominence, particularly in connection with its environmental and international law programs. Just last month Jeff and his wife gifted their home in Tunbridge, Vermont to the law school.
During Jeff’s term as Chairman of GCD, he was a strong advocate of the mantra that we should all strive to become one of the very best in (at least) three significant aspects of our professional lives. Jeff was a model of that principle: though his prominence as a highly talented professional in tax-exempt financings and legal issues of importance to not-for-profits, through his strong and effective leadership as a wonderful community builder within his numerous professional and academic circles and across the greater community, and through the largess of his humanitarianism and commitment to public service.
A memorial service for Jeff will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 13th at the Church of the Holy Spirit, 400 E. Westminster Ave., Lake Forest, Ill. The family asks that gifts in memory of Jeff be sent to Hallowell Singers, 191 Canal St., Brattleboro, Vermont 05301 or to The Jeff and Genie Shields Prize at Vermont Law School, 164 Chelsea St., South Royalton, Vermont 05068.