Hall of Fame Recipients
Vernon W. Hunt, Jr.:
2007 OCTLA Hall of Fame Inductee
As fondly remembered by attorney Wylie A. Aitken: “If there was ever ‘a lawyer’s lawyer,’ it was Vern Hunt. He was a living, breathing, walking advertisement for all that was good in lawyers. Not only do I miss him, but the entire profession misses him.” Former OCBA President Thomas Malcolm described Vern Hunt’s stature in the legal profession as “...a goal all lawyers should strive to achieve.”
In addition to obtaining numerous seven figure trial verdicts and settlements for his clients (as well as several published landmark appellate opinions) in virtually every area of civil tort litigation, Vern’s professional resume and credentials reflect his incredible intellect and the recognition by his peers of his truly exceptional legal abilities consistently demonstrated in a legal career that extended more than 40 years.
Vern Hunt was a third-generation Orange County native, born, raised and practicing virtually his entire career in Orange County. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Vern Hunt received his B.A. from Pepperdine University (1951) and then proceeded to USC Law School (1954) where he graduated first in his class and was Associate Editor of the USC Law Review, a Phi Beta Kappa, and Order of the Coif. His father (Vernon W. Hunt, Sr.) was a very well respected Orange County judge, previously the City Attorney for the City of Laguna Beach, Vern's home town for most of his life.
By 1956 Vern had established his own law firm emphasizing civil litigation matters and rapidly became recognized as one of the premier civil litigators and trial lawyers in Orange County. Over more than four decades, his commitment to excellence, integrity and justice in primarily representing injured citizens and their families resulted in numerous prestigious affiliations and recognitions, including American College of Trial Lawyers (Fellow); American Board of Trial Advocates; Vice President, California Trial Lawyers Association (now CAOC) 1982-86); President of the Orange County Bar Association (1988); California Trial Lawyers Association’s Trial Lawyer of the Year (1997); and a founder of both the Orange County College of Trial Advocacy and Daniel’s Inn. Vern was the only trial lawyer ever to be honored by the Orange County Chapter of ABOTA with a Lifetime Achievement Award (2000) and was also later awarded the prestigious Harmon G. Scoville Award by the OCBA (2001).
Equally exceptional in today’s era of legal specialization was the broad scope of Vern’s legal experience, which over the years included the successful litigation of select, and often high-profile, cases in the areas of criminal, family and even estate/probate law areas. For those fortunate enough to have known Vern and practiced law with him, he was most respected and admired for his unshakable faith in Christ and his unwavering integrity and strength of character.
Vern’s legacy lives on through many of Orange County’s most respected judges and lawyers whom he mentored, befriended and/or positively influenced over his distinguished career. Vernon Hunt had a passion for truth and justice, especially on behalf of the weak and powerless against the strong, rich and powerful. Often contrary to his own personal and economic interests, Vern never turned his back on someone in need or closed his door to anyone who needed his counsel or prayer. And although Vern was a zealous and formidable advocate for his clients, he consistently carried himself with a sincerely humble dignity, always treating others with true civility, respect, grace and compassion.
As his former partner of over 20 years, and now Orange County Superior Court Judge, Thierry Patrick Colaw reflected at Vern’s memorial service in 2001: “He was a gentleman, kind and warm to all, generous with his time, money and advice. He was a mighty redwood in his faith, and a very loyal and supportive friend. Vern Hunt was my law partner for more than 10 years and my friend and mentor for over 20 years. In addition to all of his other qualities, I think I admired most his kindness, graciousness and the way he actually lived his faith and his integrity, even in the face of the cancer that took his life.”
Vernon W. Hunt, Jr., went home to be with his Lord on September 21, 2001. His body was laid to rest near his parents at Fairhaven Cemetery in Santa Ana. His grave stone simply and aptly reads: A servant of Christ, a loving father and grandfather, an inspiration and mentor to many. He did justice, loved mercy and walked humbly with God. (Michah 6:8)