In Memory of Richard Hervey

October 04, 2017

Dechert mourns the loss of our long-time partner, colleague and friend, Richard Matthew Hervey, who passed away on September 2, 2017. Richard was married to his wife Marie for 34 years and had four children.

Richard joined the Firm as Partner in 1999 and was an extraordinarily well-regarded member of the International and Domestic Tax and Financial Services Groups. He was a dean of the investment company tax bar, having literally “written the book” on this topic, Taxation of Regulated Investment Companies and Their Shareholders.

He was one of the founding members of the Tax Advisory Committee to the Investment Company Institute and an active member of the Committee for more than 20 years. He was also a former chair of the American Bar Association’s Tax Section Committee on Regulated Investment Companies, and a member of the Financial Transactions Committees for the Tax Sections of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association.

Richard was introduced to investment company taxation during his tenure at Gordon Hurwitz Butowsky Weitzen Shalov & Wein, then a prominent firm in the mutual fund world, where he would ultimately become a partner. In 1982 he was joined there by young associates Stuart Strauss and Jon Rand, who all became lifelong friends. Stuart and Jon ultimately joined Richard at Dechert after stints at other firms. Says Jon, “it was intensely satisfying to practice with Richard again, and his prominence in the fund industry gave us a lot of reputational and intellectual punch. Plus, I again had someone to go to Popeye’s with for fried chicken and talk of politics and baseball. Richard was an unshakably loyal Mets fan.” Stuart notes that “it was a privilege to have known and worked with Richard for so many years. He was undeniably brilliant. No tax issue seemed beyond his capacity to address in a clear and practical way. More importantly, he was such a warm and sensitive human being.”

Rob Helm, a partner in the Financial Services Group who was instrumental in bringing Richard to Dechert, recalls that he “first met Richard and Marie at the KPMG dinner at the Mutual Funds Conference in Palm Desert. I had known Richard by reputation, and possessed a copy of his treatise, but had never met him. Either by happenstance or design, my wife and I, and Richard and Marie, were seated together for dinner. Typical pleasantries aside, our table mates were probably horrified when the two of us started an excited conversation about some issue then burning in that no-man's land between the Investment Company Act and Subchapter M. While I don't recall the issue we discussed, I'm sure we were in agreement about it. Richard was one of the very best lawyers in our field and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to work with him for so many years.”

While his mastery of investment company tax was unique, it was his humble, soft, very kind nature that most endeared him to his colleagues at Dechert. Dan Dunn, the head of the International and Domestic Tax Group at Dechert, shared: “Richard was one of the most thoughtful and considerate partners with whom I have had the privilege to work. I remember one late evening I mentioned to Richard a challenging issue we were addressing for a client, and about an hour later, without being asked, I received an email from Richard with some commentary and authorities that were helpful. So, while we will certainly miss Richard’s keen intellect, I think we will be most sorry not to have his smile and his considerate manner.” No one at Dechert can remember Richard saying anything derogatory about anybody.

Ari Zak, a tax partner for whom Richard served as a mentor, recalled that “when joining Dechert, I was initially intimidated to be working with someone of Richard’s stature. However, Richard’s soft spoken, humble and kind demeanor were thoroughly disarming. No question was beneath him, and he always went out of his way to show me that he valued my input.”

Given the depth of his expertise in investment company taxation, one might have thought Richard decided shortly after birth to devote all of his waking hours to the study of investment company tax issues. In fact, Richard’s career path was a bit more … circuitous.

Richard was born and raised in New York City. Growing up, he regularly played checkers, softball and marbles on 92nd Street with his friends. He graduated Valedictorian from Lehman College with the highest GPA in 17 years, and then moved to the West Coast and enrolled in a Doctorate program in mathematics at UC Berkeley.

At some point, Richard decided math was not for him and that he would leave UC Berkeley after earning a Masters Degree. To avoid disappointing his parents, he did what any, exceptionally gifted son with a guilty conscience might do: He hastily studied for the law school entrance exam and applied to Harvard Law School. With an admission letter from Harvard in hand as his diversion, he told his parents he would no longer be pursuing a Doctorate in mathematics. It was this “accidental switch” to mollify his parents that set Richard on the path that led him to ultimately become a dean of the investment company tax bar.

Richard initially wanted to be an entertainment attorney because he thought it would provide him an opportunity to interact with the musicians and movie stars he so admired. As fate would have it, he instead chose a career that, we would argue, allowed him to interact with a much more fascinating segment of the population: the wonderful members of the investment company community.

Richard had an eclectic set of hobbies and interests, which he pursued until shortly before his passing. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of music and movies and was an avid collector of early comic books, which he claimed gave him a superior vocabulary and insight into the moral lessons of good vs. evil in human nature. In fact he bought his last comic book barely a week before his passing, in his life-long quest to reassemble the collection his mom had given away. Richard also collected baseball cards, was a devotee of the Beatles and had a massive collection of vinyl records. Musicals were Richard’s favorite form of movie. The night before Richard’s death, he and his beloved wife Marie watched Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Top Hat and Swing Time, two of his favorites.

But Richard’s biggest passion was Marie and their four kids, Justin, Stephanie, Joseph and Catherine. Every summer Richard would rent a house at the Jersey Shore and insisted that the family spend a few weeks together away from the hustle of work and school. Says Marie, “he felt that it was very important to be together during this time to deepen their love and relationships with each other. These vacations became a wonderful tradition where they built bonds and memories, which they will cherish forever, thanks to Richard’s generosity, insight and love for his family.”

Stephanie remembers, “we used to go on business trips together. I would act as his secretary, which essentially meant I carried his bags through the airport and fetched him diet coke for the hotel rooms and arranged for meals after conferences. These trips were actually mini vacations for us where we could spend quality time together. Dad would go to his conferences, and while there he would text me critiquing the food and instructing me to find a better place to eat after he was done. Often, dad would order multiple meals and have just a taste of each. I suggested many times that he should quit his job and become a food critic.” Catherine recalls Richard dancing at concerts of The Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, Cher, ABBA John Denver and Chris Kristofferson. Joseph remembers surprise trips to Disney World, which Richard thought was the cure for everything, and that Richard's favorite eateries were Uncle Bill's Pancake House and A La Mode ice cream parlor in Ocean City, N.J.

Richard will be dearly missed by all his colleagues at Dechert, who for many years were privileged to benefit from his towering intelligence, thought leadership in matters of investment company taxation and gentle, humble nature.

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