Arthur O. Kane, ’39, 1918 - 2016

Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Jerry De Jaager
Law School Communications
October 6, 2016

Arthur O. Kane, ’39, a prominent Chicago attorney whose generous gifts to the Law School included funding the 10,000-square-foot wing that houses the school’s clinical programs, died Saturday. He was 98.

Kane, a lifelong resident of Chicago, was a recognized authority in the field of worker's compensation law and occupational diseases. In 1996, he and his wife Esther contributed a significant gift to build the Arthur Kane Center for Clinical Legal Education, which houses the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic and other clinical programs at the Law School. The building, which opened on October 11, 1998, includes offices, conference and meeting spaces, and a library.

“The Law School community will remember Arthur Kane for his generosity and unwavering support, a legacy that is evident each day through the important work taking place in the clinical wing bearing his name,” said Dean Thomas J. Miles, the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics. “The Kane Center is a deeply important part of the Law School. Its creation nearly two decades ago allowed our clinical programs to grow in ways that have benefited both our students and the surrounding community. Arthur’s impact on the Law School will be felt for a long time.”

At the time of the gift, Kane said he wanted to encourage the clinic’s work because it offered both service to the community and real-world training for lawyers.

“Arthur Kane was a tremendous supporter and benefactor for the Law School’s clinical program,” said Clinical Professor Jeff Leslie, Director of Clinical and Experiential Learning. “His gift to create the Arthur Kane Center for Clinical Legal Education moved our clinics out of cramped basement offices into a modern, spacious legal center that is the envy of clinical programs nationwide. We were equally grateful that Arthur stayed in consistent touch with the clinics over the years, even teaching alongside us for a long stint in the Intensive Trial Practice Workshop. We will miss him.”

In 2015, Kane and his wife also made a bequest that will support two Law School positions for faculty members who have demonstrated expertise in constitutional law and/or administrative law. The Arthur and Esther Kane Research Chair is held by Eric Posner, who is also the Kirkland & Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law. The recipient of the Arthur and Esther Kane Teaching Chair has not yet been named.

Kane, who received his undergraduate degree from the University in 1937, joined the US Army in 1942 and served for more than three years during the World War II. When he returned, he joined his father’s law practice, and they worked together until his father’s passing in 1963. He formed the firm that became Kane, Doy & Harrington in 1965, and it became a preeminent workers’ compensation practice, principally on the defense side.

At one time the firm’s ten attorneys had nearly six thousand active cases, and the firm often was handling as many as ten percent of all of the workers’ compensation cases in Illinois, Kane said in 2015. His legal successes helped burnish the firm’s reputation, as his arguments established important precedents. He became a recognized expert on occupational diseases—for plaintiffs, he won the first asbestosis case in Illinois and also gained a major victory in a myasthenia gravis case. He served as president of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Association and as chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s committee on workers’ compensation, among several other major institutional roles. 

Kane is survived by his wife Esther (nee Abrams); a son James Steinback (Joanne); a daughter Barbara Buskin (Arthur); grandchildren Eric Steinback, Adam Steinback, Scott Slavin, and Sean Slavin; and six great grandchildren. Memorial Services will be at Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home at 10am Friday, October 7th, 111 Skokie Blvd, Wilmette, IL 60091.

Thomas J. Miles
Jeff Leslie