The Passing of Philip H. Corboy

June 12, 2012

For Immediate Release

June 12, 2012

Corboy & Demetrio announces with profound sadness that its founding partner, Philip H. Corboy, died this morning in his home in Chicago, Illinois, with his wife, Mary Dempsey, at his side.   Phil was 87 years old. 

Philip H. Corboy graduated first in his class from Loyola University School of Law and was sworn into the Illinois bar on January 17, 1949.  He immediately became an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago, where he was exposed to various areas of municipal law and was given the opportunity to write legal opinions requested by city officials and influential civic groups.  

It wasn’t long before his impact on the law was exhibited by his talents when he drafted an ordinance backed by legal opinion prohibiting smoking in public elevators.   The Chicago City Council accepted the ordinance.  Exactly one year after receiving his license, he argued his first case on behalf of the City of Chicago before the Illinois Supreme Court as a 26 year old attorney. 

The City of Chicago won the case.  He was on a professional roll.  James Dooley, recognized as the dean without peer of plaintiffs’ personal injury trial lawyers, saw Corboy’s talent and asked him to recommend someone in his age group to work for him.   Although he knew almost nothing about that discipline of the legal profession, Phil jumped at the chance and recommended himself.  

On November 1, 1950, he started the next phase of his legal career.  He tried his first jury trial a week and a half later after never selecting a jury, hearing an opening statement or being in court for a complete trial.   The rest is history. 

A nationally-acclaimed trial lawyer, Philip H. Corboy was a champion of the injured, a pioneer in the area of personal injury law and a relentless lobbyist against tort reform.  He was as generous as he was successful and he was very successful. 

He represented thousands of clients over 60 years and was always proud and honored to represent people who placed their destinies in his hands.  As he once said “having an opportunity to do the right thing for each client is why I remained a trial lawyer.”  Representing injured people in genuine need of advocacy consumed him.  He knew there were people who needed him.  The firm has served as a training ground for many personal injury trial lawyers in Chicago and has earned the nickname the Corboy College of Law.  His mentoring and training honed the trial skills of countless attorneys who practiced law under his tutelage.  

A devout family man who considered all of his coworkers to be part of his extended family, Phil never hesitated to help anyone in need.   From an employee who needed his guidance to a homeless person on the street or a tragedy-stricken family across the country, his love for mankind and his unique ability to connect with individuals in need and from all walks of life is unmatched.  

Corboy leaves his beloved wife, Mary Dempsey, his three sons, Philip Harnett Corboy, Jr. (Peg), John R. Corboy (Alix), and Thomas M. Corboy, his eight grandchildren, his brother and sister-in-law, niece, nephews, his most caring in-laws, his devoted partners and office staff and many friends.   Corboy is predeceased by his only daughter, Judge Joan Marie Corboy, who died at age 45, and his youngest son, Robert J. Corboy, who died at age 12.  

When asked about his legacy, Phil said “personal injury trial lawyers are in the rare position of being able to level the playing field to help people in the war against organized money: insurance companies, corporations, healthcare providers, common carriers, manufacturers, cities, states and government.”

The funeral for Philip H. Corboy will be held at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 10a.m.  

Media Contact:  Helen Lucaitis, Corboy & Demetrio, 312-346-3191 or 312-550-2077 (cell)