Remembering Arthur Makadon

At the traditional 2003 Election Day gathering of Democrats at the Famous 4th Street Deli, Arthur Makadon (second from right) noshed with leaders including Gov. Ed Rendell (right). To Makadon's right were Camden County Democratic leader George E. Norcross III and David L. Cohen, then Rendell's chief of staff.


Arthur Makadon, who died at age 70 Wednesday of lung cancer, was one of Philadelphia’s most prominent litigators and powerbrokers.

The former chairman of Ballard Spahr was a formidable presence, as The Inquirer’s Chris Mondics details in Makadon's obituary. The litigator did not stand on decorum. He did as he pleased. During a eulogy for former City Solicitor Alan Davis, Makadon excoriated partners of the now-defunct Wolf, Block, Shorr & Solis-Cohen for forcing out Davis and other lawyers.

“He feared no one and nothing,” former Gov. Ed Rendell told Mondics of his good friend. “If he believed his cause was right, he didn’t care who he was up against. He was crazy good and always fought like a tiger.”

After I wrote several columns critical of Ballard’s extroardinary influence and government legal business during the Rendell adminstration, Makadon summoned me to his office on a top floor of the BNY Mellon Center. I arrived fully expecting to be yelled at for 10 or 15 minutes, whatever little time a man who billed at the city’s top rates could spare.

Instead, I was treated to two hours of Makadon trying to charm with jokes, blandishments and gossip. He was an inveterate gossip, and unrestrained in his criticism of people he felt lacking. He did not care — or ask -- if they were your friends.

This, I realized, was the Full Arthur.

We also talked about books. He sent me a paperback copy of Joseph Epstein’s short story collection, Fabulous Small Jews. In return, I sent him David Benioff’s City of Thieves. (Benioff is now better known as the co-producer of HBO’s Game of Thrones.)

What followed were phone calls, emails, more gossip and criticism of powerful people. Sunday morning seemed a particularly prime time.

It seems highly probable that Arthur never had an unarticulated opinion. In a world of bland and nice, he was an indelible character.


--Karen Heller