Richard A. Norris, age 93, a Member of the Bridgewater-based law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., passed away the morning of Sunday, May 31, 2020. Due to the current public health crisis, all arrangements are private, however, contributions in his memory can be made to the VNA Health Group Foundation. To send condolences to the Norris family, please visit www.brucecvanarsdalefuneralhome.com.
John N. Vanarthos, Chairman of the firm, addressed the founding member’s passing in a message delivered to firm employees Monday morning: “It is with a heavy heart that I report that our own beloved Dick Norris passed away over the weekend. Dick was truly the best of who we are and what we strive to be. He was a phenomenal lawyer, an outstanding partner, a true pillar of the legal community, and a great and trusted friend to us all. Anyone who knew him had nothing but the greatest respect and affection for him, holding him in the highest esteem. Dick will always be a source of pride for the firm and, for that, we will always owe him a deep debt of gratitude. We will love and miss him forever.”
About Richard A. Norris
A long-time resident of Bridgewater, Norris had over fifty years of experience as a trial lawyer and was certified as an arbitrator and mediator, focusing his practice on matrimonial and family law. Once a humble two-man practice on Main Street in Somerville, New Jersey – from two attorneys to 120+ attorneys – since 1953, Norris had led Norris McLaughlin to continued growth, becoming the largest firm in Somerset County and one of the top 20 firms in New Jersey while honoring the firm’s culture and values.
Norris served as the first Public Defender for Somerset County in 1967 and was instrumental in establishing the Somerset County Legal Services Program during his tenure as President of the Somerset County Bar Association in 1970-71. He had also served as counsel to the Somerset County Board of Elections and the Somerset County Board of Taxation and was the attorney for the organization and establishment of twelve commercial banks in New Jersey.
Norris was a member and former President of the Somerset County Bar Association (SCBA), the Executive Committee of the Family Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, the Family Law and Litigation Sections of the American Bar Association, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and Matrimonial Lawyers Alliance. He was also a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, which recognizes achievements in family law and a commitment to the highest standards of practice in the field.
Norris had been named the recipient of the 2009 Daniel J. O’Hern Award by the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law, which is presented annually to an attorney who exemplifies commitment to the highest standards of professional conduct, career achievement, and service to the legal profession and community. He received the 2003 Professional Lawyer of the Year Award given annually by the SCBA and the Commission on Professionalism in the Law and the SCBA’s 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award. Norris was also regularly selected for inclusion in Marquis’ “Who’s Who in America” and in The Best Lawyers in America.
Norris obtained his B.S. from Lehigh University in 1949 and his LL.B. from Harvard Law School in 1952. Before entering private practice, he was a Staff Judge Advocate at Wright- Patterson Air Force Base (USAF) and a law clerk to Chief Judge Philip Forman of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.