Daniel M. Gribbon, 88, a partner emeritus at the law firm of Covington & Burling who handled countless antitrust, tax, commercial and litigation matters, died Nov. 3 at his home in Washington. He had complications from kidney disease.
Mr. Gribbon joined the firm's Washington office in 1945, and his clients included E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Exxon Corp., the National Football League and the Penn Central Railroad.
He argued many times before the U.S. Supreme Court but said his most significant case in setting a legal precedent was Upjohn Co. v. United States (1981), which expanded the scope of a corporation's attorney-client privilege.
He was a former chairman of the firm's management committee and assumed senior counsel status at age 70. He continued working at the firm until recently.
Daniel McNamara Gribbon was a native of Youngstown, Ohio, where his father was a banker. He was an English graduate of what is now Case Western Reserve University and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
In a 1998 interview with a D.C. Bar publication, he said his mother "insisted that I take up a profession, and because I showed little aptitude in the sciences or mathematics, law seemed the best avenue."
He was a 1941 graduate of Harvard Law School, where he worked as a case editor on the law review.
Just before graduation, he began clerking for Judge Learned Hand of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. He described an informal process where the law school dean called him in and asked whether he wanted the position with the revered jurist.
"I remember he loved the patent cases," he said of Hand in the 1998 interview. "He used to get the invention involved in the case, take it apart and put it together again. He enjoyed seeing how the apparatus worked. . . . He also enjoyed the admiralty cases. He loved to get models of ships and recreate the circumstances of a collision."
His year with Hand was abbreviated because of the United States' entry into World War II. Mr. Gribbon served in the Navy and worked on a war plans committee of the joint chiefs of staff, where he said he did "military research of a fairly elementary nature."
He was former chairman of the Advisory Committee on Procedures for the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He was a former president of the Metropolitan Club and the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit.
His wife of 64 years, Jane Retzler Gribbon of Washington, died in September.
Survivors include two daughters, Diana Gribbon Motz of Baltimore, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, and Deborah Gribbon of Los Angeles; and four grandchildren.