March 2, 1929 – Oct. 21, 2013
For 58 years, Daniel T. Roach worked at the law firm that now bears his name – Roach, Brown, McCarthy & Gruber – carving out a reputation as one of Buffalo’s finest trial attorneys.
“The phrase ‘a lawyer’s lawyer’ can be overused, but not when it describes Dan Roach,” said his longtime colleague and friend Terrence M. Connors. “He was our Atticus Finch.”
Mr. Roach died Monday in Hospice Buffalo after a short illness. He was 84.
In 1955, Mr. Roach started working at the law firm, then named Adams, Smith, Brown & Starrett, focusing largely on railroad and admiralty law, before branching out into other specialties. His trial and management skills helped him rise to managing partner in the 1970s, and a Buffalo News article in the early 1980s identified him as the area’s best medical-malpractice defense attorney.
Mr. Roach continued to try cases into his 80s and worked until last month.
Connors described his friend as a fierce legal competitor, a battler who loved to “mix it up” in the courtroom. But Connors was quick to add, “He was always a pillar of integrity, somebody that you looked to, to do the right thing.”
The Erie County Bar Association named Mr. Roach its Lawyer of the Year in 1994, and later that year he was recognized as the Defense Trial Lawyer of the Year. Earlier in his career, he was inducted as a fellow into the American College of Trial Lawyers.
A Buffalo native, Mr. Roach graduated from School 56 and Lafayette High School, where he served as class president in 1946. At Williams College, he graduated with honors in history in 1950, writing a thesis that was included in the college’s style manual for more than 40 years and playing as a two-way starter on the football team.
Mr. Roach also graduated from University of Buffalo Law School, where he was a member of the Law Review. After law school, he served in the Army from 1953 to 1955 as a sergeant with the 28th Infantry, 8th Infantry Division.
During his lengthy legal career, Mr. Roach also taught a course in trial technique at UB Law School, teaching many of Buffalo’s finest future trial lawyers and judges.
A lifelong advocate of the public library system, Mr. Roach was chairman of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library board and served on the board of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Foundation. He also was a board member of Buffalo Seminary and the Western New York Trial Lawyers Association.
Among many honors, Mr. Roach was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of UB Law School in 1993, received the Western New York Trial Lawyers Award for Civility in 2008 and was inducted into the Lafayette High School Hall of Fame in 2011.
His wife of 59 years, the former Karin Brown, died in 2011.
Survivors include two daughters, Molly and Kate; and two sons, Tad and Michael.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in St. Louis Catholic Church, 780 Main St.