Thomas Tew Dies Of Pancreatic Cancer

, Daily Business Review

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Tom Tew
Tom Tew

Services are set Thursday for Thomas Tew, co-founder of the Miami law firm Tew Cardenas, who died of pancreatic cancer. He was 73.

Tew, who founded the 18-lawyer litigation firm Tew Cardenas 25 years ago, specialized in securities law and frequently served as a receiver for the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Florida Department of Insurance.

Tew died Monday night at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami. A memorial ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday at Comber Hall at 1251 Palermo Ave. in Coral Gables.

Law partner Al Cardenas, a friend of Tew's for three decades, remembered his partner of 22 years as a "lawyer's lawyer."

"No one loved the law and was more passionate about the practice but him," Cardenas said. "Even in his last days when people choose to travel the world and do different things, Tom chose to come to the office and practice law. That was the center of his life. He was an intellectual giant, a fierce competitor in the courtroom and someone you did not want to be up against in a court of law." 18-lawyer litigation firm

Tew was a member of the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission and a former member of the Third District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission.

His clients included the city of Miami, which he defended in an SEC proceeding alleging bond fraud, and the outside directors of FPL Group Inc. named in a derivative action seeking $60 million. Tew also served as the bankruptcy trustee for ESM Government Securities Inc., the largest failure of a government securities dealer in the nation's history when it collapsed in 1985.

Akerman partner Michael Goldberg said he owes his career to Tew, who brought him to Florida in 1990 from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York. Goldberg's office was next to Tew's for four years, and Goldberg decided to become a receiver and specialize in Ponzi schemes after observing Tew.

"Tom was an exceptional lawyer," Goldberg said. "The guy could sit down, look at a new file and in 10 minutes understand it completely. He was very, very bright. It's a big loss for the legal community."

Tew testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on insurance company insolvencies and testified five times before the U.S. House on securities and insurance fraud.

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    I once bid on an auction item which Tom had donated to a local charity. It was a course of boxing lessons to be taught in his gym up on Biscayne Blvd. When it turned out that I was the high bidder, he asked me when I would like to show up at the Gym. I said "The lessons are not for me; they are for my wife Leslie Lott". He looked at me and with complete sincerity and seriousness said, "You know, in her weight class she just might be unbeatable". That little exchange, in a strange way, always endeared me to Tom Tew.

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