D. James Lantonio

D. James Lantonio, 69, died October 2, 2009  in Arlington County, Virginia.

It has been a month since all of us have heard about the loss of Jim Lantonio. I had expected to see him at the College meeting, and was looking forward to catching up on his activities and plans for the future. He was always full of ideas and energy. I was anxious to hear about his newest, provocative ideas about a new law firm model, created to meet the challenges of the current economic environment.

Jim thought “outside of the box” and made it seem as if that was just the right thing to do. Jim challenged everyone he worked with to do the same. Just the other day I received a flyer about a new ALA book Jim edited on “Law Firm Management and Economics.” There was his name in the flyer, reminding me that he was always working on ways to explain and improve law firm management models.

Jim’s most valuable contribution to the law firm world we both knew, though, was the way he worked with people. We worked together for nine years, from 1990 when I joined Sidley, until 1999, when Jim left to pursue other opportunities. During that time, we made many changes to policies and procedures. Everyone on the team appreciated Jim’s personal management style and thoughtfulness. He would be there to explain changes, and listen to everyone’s comments and point of view. He would walk through the office and make a point of talking to each and every person and, in most cases, knew their names.

The Sidley Family was greatly saddened to hear about the loss of Jim, and many told their own story about how Jim remembered something about them each time they saw him.

In the past year, Jim and I kept up with each other via email, and I have the last email he sent me datedJuly 31, 2009, telling me about the five-week family trip to Europe with his wife Elaine, their daughter Danielle and grandchildren Nicole and Drew. Jim told me about the trip he was planning when we talked about our plans for 2009 at last Year’s College meeting. He was excited about the trip, and he told me that he was trying not to think about the amount of luggage they would be taking! I don’t think Jim would mind my sharing the thoughts he expressed in the email. He said “This trip has been fantastic. Seeing Europe through the eyes of Nicole and Drew has made it all worthwhile.” He did many things for many people, and to him it was important and worth it to do things for others.

He will be remembered by me and those he knew for his caring, thoughtful ways. I think Jim would like that.

—Carol Phillips

Jim Lantonio was one of the most caring people I have ever known. He did so much for people and asked nothing in return other than that people always put forth their best efforts. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He was a friend and mentor to more people than we could imagine. He put concern for others ahead of concern for himself. As busy as he was (he didn’t seem to really grasp the meaning of “retirement”) he never forgot special events in other people’s lives. All of us were enriched by knowing him. Leah and I will especially miss him. He was one of our dearest and closest friends. We enjoyed traveling with Jim and Elaine and were excited that they were in the process of moving to our community in Williamsburg. On a professional level, he was a leader and innovator. His impact on the legal community and the administration of law firms will be felt for years to come. He will truly be missed on so many levels.

—Rob Rubenstein

In my 36+ years of being a law firm administrator I have been blessed with a few great mentors and role models. None had the impact of Jim Lantonio. I had the good fortune of working under his tutelage at Milbank starting when we both joined the firm in 1999. Jim’s impact on the firm will be felt for years and years to come. He has been deeply missed since he retired, at all levels of the Milbank community. Jim supported all of us to challenge ourselves. He pushed us to reach beyond what we thought possible and look at every situation through many lenses. He strengthened my belief that there are multiple solutions to every situation and caused me to realize that often the one you thought would never be plausible was the right one. No one made me think more, think more differently, reach beyond what I thought was possible and believe in myself more. And I am not alone. That is his legacy at Milbank. I have the fortune to travel to our offices with regularity. Jim is remembered this way throughout the world. He never forgot that people are our most important asset.

Knowing that Jim is in a better place has brought us comfort. Wondering what he will do as its newest resident keeps us intrigued. He has left a giant hole in our hearts and lives. He left us all with one message “GIVE A DAMN.”

—Erica Tamblyn

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