Fine, Kaplan and Black, R.P.C.

Aaron M. Fine

Aaron M Fine, senior founding partner of the firm, died October 17, 2013 after a very brief illness. He was 90.

Mr. Fine was nationally known as a brilliant trial lawyer who, with only a few perfectly phrased questions, could destroy an opposing witness on the stand. "Half the time the witness did not even realize he or she had been destroyed," said his law partner, Allen D. Black.

Among his most significant cases, Mr. Fine argued the landmark class action case of Eisen v. Carlisle & Jacquelin before the U.S. Supreme Court in which the justices held that federal trial judges should not consider the merits of a suit when deciding the issue of class certification. Mr. Fine also wrote the brief that established the "fraud on the market" principle in securities litigation; and, with Harold Kohn and Dolores Korman (later Hon. Dolores Sloviter of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit) tried to a jury the seminal electrical equipment antitrust cases in the early 1960s.

Mr. Fine established Fine, Kaplan and Black in 1975 with two younger lawyers, Arthur M. Kaplan and Allen D. Black. The two remember Mr. Fine fondly as a kind and generous senior partner who personally financed the firm in its early years, and who insisted that the two of them become partners from the very beginning.

Mr. Fine's brilliance was not limited to the law. He knew eight languages in addition to English - French, German, Russian, Latin, Ancient Greek, Hebrew, Yiddish, and some Arabic. He was an important art collector who, in his later years delighted in found-object art. His office at the law firm was literally crammed full of artwork of all sorts. Mr. Fine was a mentor to many young artists in the Philadelphia area over the years. Toward the end of his life he began to make art himself, including paintings, collages, and found-object displays.

Mr. Fine read voraciously and universally. He had an uncontrollable impulse to buy old books at thrift shops and yard sales. He read dozens of newspapers, and had a habit of sending clippings to his friends, who delighted in receiving them. He had a rapier wit and a puckish sense of humor; and he poured forth astoundingly droll puns and anagrams. He became famous (or infamous) in his home town of Swarthmore for his prolific stream of witty and erudite letters to the editor of the local paper on topics ranging from the price of bananas at the local food co-op to US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Mr. Fine was born January 16, 1923, in Birmingham, England and came to the United States in February, 1939. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and with honors from its Law School. He was a member of the Order of the Coif. Mr. Fine interrupted his studies to serve as an enlisted man in the United States Army during World War II. In 1944 he became a US citizen.

Mr. Fine's obituary in the Swarthmorean is here.