Bruce M. Stargatt Speaker Program
Bruce M. Stargatt was one of the Delaware Bar’s preeminent practitioners and leaders in the second half of the 20th Century. Regarded locally and nationally as a feared but respected advocate for his clients, he was recognized for his dedicated service to the Delaware bench and bar. Bruce excelled at all aspects of legal advocacy, but was especially known and acknowledged for his legal writing of which he was personally very proud.
Bruce graduated from the University of Vermont in 1951 and Yale Law School in 1954. Shortly after graduation from law school he was called to service in the United States Air Force where he served as a judge advocate at Dover Air Force Base. Upon his discharge from the service in 1956, Bruce became associated in the practice of law in Wilmington with H. Albert Young, a distinguished lawyer who had served as Delaware’s Attorney General. In 1959, Bruce was an original participant in the law firm that ultimately became Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor where Bruce practiced formally until his retirement in 2000 and continued to participate thereafter until his death in 2012. During that time, the firm became one of Delaware’s largest and best known law firms, due in no small measure to Bruce Stargatt’s contributions, both as an attorney and as a leader.
Bruce was recognized nationally for his legal achievements as a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Law Institute. Bruce also received the American Judicature Society Herbert Harley Award and served for many years on the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association. He served the local legal community as president of the Delaware Bar Association, president of the Delaware Bar Foundation, recipient of the Delaware Bar Association’s first State Distinguished Service Award, and an award of the Order of the First State by the Governor of Delaware.
Bruce was survived by his wife and lifelong companion, the former Barbara Hirschfeld, by two children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren. It is through the generosity of Barbara and others in his family that Delaware Bar Foundation has received the funding to initiate the Bruce M. Stargatt Scholar Program.
Bruce was first honored through the Stargatt Legal Ethics Writing Competition which was held in 2017 and 2018. Winners Michelle Streifthau-Levizos and Randall Teti earned a monetary award and publication of their papers in Delaware Lawyer. After 2018, the Scholars Program was reimagined to present an ethics speaker at the Joint Inns of Court annual dinner. The inaugural Stargatt Speaker was scheduled to present at the Joint Inns of Court dinner in April 2020 that was not held due to stay-at-home orders. In March 2022, the Foundation was proud to honor Bruce by sponsoring a speaker at the annual Joint Inns gathering.
The 2022 Stargatt Speaker, Amanda Ripley, a New York Times bestselling author, provided attendees with a unique perspective on conflict, discussing elements from her most recent book High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out. Her research and insights suggested ways to maintain more productive and civil behavior in legal representations (and society!)
In March 2023, the Foundation was honored to sponsor former Chief Justice Myron Steele as the 2023 Stargatt Speaker. Former Chief Justice Steele addressed the Joint Inns of Court and explored the connection between Delaware's leadership in the corporate law field and its leadership in the professional responsibility field. As there are efforts emphasize conformity among state bars, like a national bar exam, Chief Justice Steele highlighted the importance of Delaware seeking solutions that are tailored specifically to this state.