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John D. Hayes

John D. Hayes
Status: Deceased

(1931 - 1994)

John D. "Jack" Hayes was a Chicago attorney, past president of the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.

Jacks father, who was a member of the Communist Party, worked as sexton at Holy Name Cathedral, a job John took over in high school. "My dad," he said in a 1989 interview in Sullivan's Review, "was one of the most well-read men I have ever met. He was a man with a social conscience whose watchword was social justice. He really gave me a sense of the equality of men."

In the 1950s, Jack worked with Phil Corboy, first as a researcher and then as a lawyer after graduating from De Paul Law School in 1959. A year later, he went off on his own and soon became one of the city's top civil trial attorneys and a partner of Joe Power.

In 1985, Jack introduced a Chicago Bar Association resolution grandfathering into membership all African-American attorneys who had practiced in the city for 50 years. Since the organization had not admitted black members until the mid-1940s, the action bypassed the traditional requirement of 50 years of membership to qualify for lifetime membership. In the late 1980s, Jack was the only active white member of the Cook County Bar Association, an organization of black attorneys.

Among Jack's most well known cases were those in which he represented clients suing Syntex Laboratories Inc. and Syntex (USA) Inc. over allegations that a number of children suffered brain damage after drinking a baby formula made by the corporations.

Speaking about his personal philosophy, Jack said, "Mine is not a fiery liberalism. It's an ethic of fairness, but I also have to do something about it."
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