RIP Philip Corboy, one of the Best Lawyers of All Time

Phil Corboy of Corboy and Demetrio died yesterday.

I never knew him.

I’ve known some lawyers at his firm, and others by reputation, and have been impressed with all of them.

But Phil was the key. I don’t know if I would be in this line of work if not for Mr. Corboy. He was a pioneer. He fought the courts and fought the system to remove caps on damages and to make courts more fair. He tried cases in ways that hadn’t been done before, and won amazing verdicts that hadn’t been won before. He paved the way for every personal injury lawyer who came after him. (Here’s a fascinating article about how he did it).

He was an easy guy to look up to – not just for his results, or the street named after him in Chicago or for any of that – but for how far he came from with his background. In a profession where it feels like most lawyers came from upper middle class backgrounds and higher, Corboy was a scrapper who worked his way up from a lower middle class environment. I always admired other lawyers who grew up that way – and I believe it’s a common theme in the plaintiff’s bar.

I never knew him, so I’m not even close to the best person to eulogize him. I’m sure there will be great articles in many blogs and publications in the next few weeks, and I look forward to reading them. He was truly a pioneer and very well-respected. I just wanted to say thanks.

(Howard Zimmerle is a trial lawyer in the Quad Cities in Iowa and Illinois. He can be reached at 309-794-1660 or hzimmerle [at] 


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