I met Jerry twenty years ago. While a student in the US, I was literally starving when one of my American friends reached out to her father who was important in Washington, DC. The father called me up and said: “There are three lawyers in this country who are crazy enough to deal with the Russians. Jerry Shestack is the first name. If he does not help you out, call me back for the second name”. I never learned the second name.
I went to Schnader Harrison where Jerry was a partner and gave them a passionate speech why their law firm should go into Russia. Jerry gave me a 600 dollar check as a speaking fee and I walked back to 42nd street because I only had a quarter and their check in my pocket and neither one was good for a bus ride.
In the years to come I was fortunate to have Jerry as my mentor. I am now the chairman of a 500-person law firm with offices in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and London. The firm’s motto on our web site reads “Upholding Justice” and you know who had inspired this vision.
Jerry has touched the lives of many like me with kindness, mentorship and support. But there was much more that Jerry had offered all of us: the confidence to stand up for the right thing.
Jerry was a dreamer. They called him a Renaissance Man. But he did more than dreaming. He fought for his ideals and made sure he got the result. There were always skeptics around. But Jerry’s life is vivid evidence that more often than not Good wins over Evil.
Jerry has had an impact on people and events far from Philadelphia. Jerry fought the Evil of communism and stood up for human rights in the Soviet Union. Who would have believed then that the Soviet Communism would be no longer, that Russian people would be free to travel, that Jerry’s friend – a human rights law professor would become the Mayor of my hometown and change that town’s name from Leningrad to St Petersburg!
Jerry once told me that he never lost a case. I have asked how was that possible? He said: “I settle the cases which I cannot win”.
Last week, when Jerry knew he could not win his final case he asked to be moved from hospital to his home to spend the remaining days with family and friends. In the end, Jerry did not lose. He has settled his final case on good terms.