The Passing of Michael Mulroney

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

Michael Mulroney, a dear former colleague of Keith and mine at Villanova Law School, has passed away at the age of 90.  Michael had a zest for life, dry sense of humor and deep commitment to his family, colleagues and students.

Remembrances by Les

His passion for cars was legendary at Villanova: as head of the (one manned) Phlexed Sphincter Racing Team he competed in his 1962 British Morgan in about 150 races over almost 20 years. Michael was a very hard worker-you would find his old funky cars, including a cool Karmann Ghia that I envied, in the Villanova parking lot no matter when you came to the law school. Before he joined Villanova he had a successful career in DC, first as an attorney advisor for the Tax Court, then at the Appellate Section of the DOJ and then ultimately as a partner at a boutique tax firm. At Villanova he wrote about and taught a variety of subjects. He had keen interest in legal ethics, and I was fortunate to co-teach a seminar with him for a couple of years.

Michael displayed immense kindness and concern for his junior colleagues. Indulge me a couple of anecdotes. Along with the late Jim Fee Sr, Michael was directing the Villanova Clinic before I arrived in 2000. Jim and Michael stayed on as advisors; Jim more formally and Michael informally. In my first year as Clinic Director at Villanova, we had a mix up with the grant application for federal funding (a long and sad story). This was the sort of thing that could torpedo a first-year professor. Michael came to my office and said that “he was taking the grenade” and he took full responsibility for a gaffe that was mostly mine (we wound up getting the funding anyway). Fast forward a few years, and when a client at the Clinic submitted doctored documents that we inadvertently passed on to Counsel (another long and sad story), Michael was the trusted senior counsel with grey hair and good judgment who I turned to in crisis.

Remembrances by Keith

When Michael took emeritus status, Les followed him as the director of the graduate tax program and moved from the clinic to the podium.  That left an opening in the tax clinic which I was fortunate to fill.  Michael welcomed me to Villanova with open arms and was always available to assist with any problem in the clinic.  We regularly debated which of us was the oldest person ever to obtain tenure at Villanova since we both left our prior careers at the age of 55 to join the faculty.  He generously prepared the tax returns each year of just about every international student on the Villanova campus.  In doing so he used his deep knowledge of international taxes and treaties to benefit the students in ways I doubt students anywhere else in the United States received. 

Each year Villanova held an auction for public interest so that law students could spend their summers providing assistance in jobs for which they would otherwise receive no compensation.  Michael would often donate rides in his collection of antique vehicles as a way to raise funds.  One year I won the bid for such a ride, and he decided to bring out the “chicken” Morgan so that we could bring our wives on the ride.  While Michael drove and I sat in the very low front seat, our wives sat in the space Michael said the manufacturer designed so that his wife could bring chickens to market.  They wore scarves to keep their hair from blowing in the wind and we toured the Pennsylvania countryside before stopping at an Irish pub for lunch.  A memorable day with an unforgettable colleague.


We are fortunate that about fifteen years ago Paul Caron ran a series where tax profs wrote about their lives. You can get a sense of Michael’s sense of humor and joy for life in his brilliant write up here.

Rest in peace Michael.

Avatar photo About Leslie Book

Professor Book is a Professor of Law at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.


  1. James Edward Maule says

    Great remembrances of a wonderful colleague. I was fortunate to have an office across from his, in both the old and the new law school buildings. We talked quite often, with me moving quickly from “person already here helping newly arrived tax law professor” to “me listening to and learning from someone with 20 more years of experience in the tax practice world.” And not just about tax and teaching, but also about cars and movies and genealogy. Most people would find the former not as interesting as the latter. 🙂

    Surely you remember his “anniversary of the 16th amendment” parties each March something for at least a decade that somehow ended up with The Quiet Man running on a screen, our late colleague Lew Becker singing Irish ballads, and green beer.

    And his “Saturday post-semester pre-exam” review session for his Intro to Tax students, to which he invited the students in my section to join his, where he and I provided answers but he also brough along bags and bags of bagels, cream cheese, coffee, tea, and water. He cared that students would flourish.

    All of us miss him. He was a Villanova Law great.

    Jim Maule

  2. Michael Kraios says

    Wonderful sentiments and fond memories to share with us, Les and Keith. Condolences to the family and friends.

  3. How sad. I remember Michael from ABA Tax Section or AALS events back in my young professor days. Thanks for sharing these memories.

    Donna Byrne

Comment Policy: While we all have years of experience as practitioners and attorneys, and while Keith and Les have taught for many years, we think our work is better when we generate input from others. That is one of the reasons we solicit guest posts (and also because of the time it takes to write what we think are high quality posts). Involvement from others makes our site better. That is why we have kept our site open to comments.

If you want to make a public comment, you must identify yourself (using your first and last name) and register by including your email. If you do not, we will remove your comment. In a comment, if you disagree with or intend to criticize someone (such as the poster, another commenter, a party or counsel in a case), you must do so in a respectful manner. We reserve the right to delete comments. If your comment is obnoxious, mean-spirited or violates our sense of decency we will remove the comment. While you have the right to say what you want, you do not have the right to say what you want on our blog.

Speak Your Mind