Mr. Hare was one of the first attorneys in the United States to devote his practice to representing the rights of injured individuals. Behind this commitment was a genuine sensitivity for each client’s personal loss, coupled with a unique ability to present their case with clarity and force. Of his many contributions to civil litigation, three stand out in terms of innovation and influence: first, a complete rethinking of the basis upon which wrongful death claims are made; second, a personal manifesto on the nature of pain and suffering; and third, an argument which brought new respect for the often tragic consequences that so-called “small disabilities” can have upon the quality of an injury victim’s life.
Two other contributions made by Francis Hare were his work in the advancement of the relationship between law and science, for which he was awarded the Gold Medal by the Law-Science Academy of America, and his firm support for the establishment of a Continuing Legal Education program by our state bar association.
Francis Hare was respected by his colleagues. He was elected President of the Birmingham Bar Association, 1942-43, President of the Alabama State Bar, 1949-50, President of the Alabama Trial Lawyers Association, and finally, President of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. His many writings and over three hundred lifetime speaking appearances earned him the reputation as one of America’s most articulate spokesmen for both the dignity of the legal profession and the importance of all clients’ rights, regardless of race, income, or social standing.
Another titan of the bar, Howell Heflin, himself a 2007 inductee of our Hall of Fame, described Francis Hare as “a rare and unique character, as well as a tremendous trial lawyer. He was widely known for his wit and would often come up with ideas that, at first glance, seemed shocking. Only after careful reflection and close examination would the shock fade away, leaving behind the deep thought, excellent logic, and true merit of his ideas”.
Heflin continued: “There is no question that Francis Hare was a great legal scholar. He had a fine and keen analytical mind. He possessed a perceptive insight, almost beyond belief. His memory was superb, and his integrity beyond reproach. His voice, personality, and manner were all as if tailored to his chosen craft. Together these qualities meshed to make Francis Hare one of the most outstanding trial attorneys of this, or any, era”.
The impact of Mr. Hare’s life was not limited to the law. For nearly six decades he served the Birmingham community through numerous charitable and civic pursuits. Of these endeavors he perhaps took the greatest pride in the Sunday school class he taught for forty years.
Francis Hare died on June 22, 1983. His use of demonstrative aids laid the foundation for many of today’s modern courtroom techniques. His simple and logical arguments painted a clear picture which every juror could understand regardless of their education or station in life. Today the lawyers of Alabama honor Francis H. Hare, Sr. as one of the most prominent courtroom trial lawyers of our Bar and welcome him as a member of the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame.