Joseph H. Flom, a pioneering corporate lawyer who helped build Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom into one of the nation’s leading law firms, died on Feb. 23 in Manhattan. He was 87.

“The world is a poorer place today. Joe Flom was a great man, a fearsome intellect and a fiercely loyal friend of Fordham,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University. “We mourn Joe’s passing, along with his family and many loving friends. He, and they, are in our prayers.”

Flom was the husband of the late Claire Flom, a longtime friend of the University who was active on several boards and committees. She served as a member and vice chairman of the Board of Trustees and was a founding member of the Board of Advisors of the Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham Law School until her passing in November 2007.

Joseph Flom joined Skadden, Arps in 1948 as the firm’s first associate. Over the course of a distinguished law career, he fundamentally transformed the practice of corporate law while guiding Skadden from a four-lawyer firm to a global law firm with 2,000 attorneys and scores of practice areas.

According to The New York Times, Flom “rose to prominence in the 1960s as a scrappy young lawyer who cut his teeth in proxy fights. But he used the work as a springboard into the burgeoning world of mergers and acquisitions—and built his upstart law firm into the prototypical modern mega firm in the process.”

Flom was “a giant in the takeover field, perhaps the single most important force in the game during the 1970s and 1980s,” Robert Slater wrote in his book, The Titans of Takeover (Beard Books, 1999).

Flom received an honorary degree at Fordham’s 145th commencement in 1990. Along with Claire, he supported the Gateway School in New York— founded by Claire—for children with learning disabilities, as well as other institutions and causes.

Flom is survived by his second wife, Judi, sons Jason and Peter (GSAS ’94 and ’99 in psychometrics), and daughter Nancy Laing, as well as six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The family is holding a private remembrance.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Skadden Fellowship Foundation for the support of new projects undertaken by former Skadden Fellows. The address is: Skadden Fellowship Foundation, Four Times Square, Room 29/218, New York, N.Y. 10036.

Joseph Flom Photo by Nan Melville

Gina Vergel is Senior Director of Communications. She oversees the digital news coverage, public relations, and social media for the university. Before joining Fordham in 2007, Gina worked as a reporter for the Home News Tribune, and The Ridgewood News, where she won Society of Professional Journalist (New Jersey chapter) awards for breaking news and feature writing, respectively. She can be reached at [email protected] or (646) 579-9957.