In Memoriam James A. Wade

For nearly 60 years, James A. Wade was a legendary figure at Robinson+Cole and within the legal and business communities. Those who had the good fortune to know Jim personally and work with him know that this is a tremendous loss for all of us.

Jim joined Robinson+Cole in 1966 after serving in the Navy as a lawyer in the JAG corps and rose to fame for his trial skills. Jim was one of the preeminent trial lawyers, and he was always clear that this meant trial lawyer, not litigator.

Throughout his career, he appeared before at least three hundred judges and argued cases in every state courthouse in Connecticut. For more than 20 years, Jim served as outside counsel to the Connecticut Democratic Party and represented three Connecticut Governors in litigation. Jim tried complex criminal, civil and political cases involving antitrust, securities fraud, government contracting fraud, mail fraud, and public corruption. He also represented numerous Fortune 500 companies on various compliance issues.

In a 1993 article, the Connecticut Law Tribune noted that "Wade has made his name trying cases. He is a rare bird for these parts: a big firm lawyer…who gets down and dirty in the criminal defense trenches...Wade reached this eminence with a mixture of toughness, charm and a refusal to quit.”

Jim excelled as a lawyer and took the time to mentor, advise, and nurture the careers of countless of lawyers who would rise in private practice, the judiciary, in-house, and in government. His willingness to share his knowledge was motivated by his desire to have the best team. He made everyone better for the experience.

Jim was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 1980. He was recognized nationally in ratings that include The Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers, and Super Lawyers. He was presented with the 2018 Edward F. Hennessey Professionalism Award by the Connecticut Bar Association Professionalism and CLE Committee, an award he cherished as it was named after his good friend and partner. In 2021, he was presented with the Above and Beyond Award by SCG Legal, a worldwide network of 122 leading independent law firms serving clients in major commercial centers and capitals in more than sixty-two countries, every U.S. state capital city and the District of Columbia.

As Jim used to say, no one had more fun being a trial lawyer than he did, and he got to do what he loved until his retirement just a few months ago in December 2022, even trying an important political case last summer. Jim loved to tell stories and always had eager listeners, as he had a remarkable career and could tell a good tale. He sometimes referred to himself as a “shanachie,” an Irish storyteller.

Jim liked to talk about the glue that holds Robinson+Cole together, including the excellence of the firm’s services and the loyalty of its people to the firm. In that way, he was an important link that tied together the strong fabric of Robinson+Cole, as he knew generations of Robinsons and even the founding Cole.

We thank you, Jim, and will endeavor to carry forward your integrity, character, excellence, loyalty, and good spirit. You will be missed.



"The Robinson+Cole community is heartbroken over the passing of our colleague, friend and mentor, Jim Wade. Jim was a preeminent trial lawyer who taught and mentored countless lawyers at the firm for more than 50 years. He instilled in us all the importance of excellence and loyalty. Jim loved to say that no one had more fun being a trial lawyer than him, and he got to do what he loved until just a few months ago when he retired in December. He leaves behind a remarkable legacy that will continue to influence R+C now and in the future," Rhonda J. Tobin, Managing Partner of Robinson & Cole LLP.