“Jim was respected and loved by his colleagues and known far and wide, not just for his legal acumen, but also for his keen sense of humor, which endeared him to everyone with whom he came into contact,” said Sandy Thomas, Reed Smith’s Global Managing Partner.
A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 1997, Jim was among the nation’s leading insurance recovery attorneys. For almost five decades, beginning in the early 1970s, he represented corporate policyholders in complex asbestos coverage disputes, including serving as one of the principal negotiators and founders of the nationwide Asbestos Claims Facility in 1985, which the Legal Times characterized as “the boldest attempt ever” at interparty cooperation to settle complex litigation out of court. Jim himself humbly described the unprecedented private alternative for the resolution of asbestos disputes as “a fairly revolutionary concept.”
“Jim was a legal giant and a one-of-a-kind talent who helped shape the careers of many Reed Smith lawyers,” said Gregory B. Jordan, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer of The PNC Financial Services Group and former Global Managing Partner of Reed Smith. “He was a great leader, partner, friend and mentor to many and cared more for the advancement of others than he did for himself.”
As asbestos litigation altered the face of civil justice in the United States, Jim was at the forefront of shaping many of the changes that litigation created in the nation’s system of mass torts, skillfully guiding Reed Smith’s participation in that rapidly evolving component of American jurisprudence. His clients included many of the nation’s leading corporations, including Pittsburgh Corning Corp. and W.R. Grace & Co., both of which he represented in numerous significant matters.
Jim earned Reed Smith’s coveted Shaw’s Lion award for practice excellence, dedication, and exceptional client service in 1993. His dedication to the Pittsburgh community as a whole culminated in his receipt of a prestigious Jefferson Award as a “Community Champion” for volunteer work and service on the Board of Directors of Rebuilding Pittsburgh Together, as well as his recognition as a Caritas “Champion of Justice” by the Diocese of Pittsburgh Catholic Charities.
Jim’s legal acumen and skills earned him significant professional recognition, including an award for “Excellence and Innovation in Alternative Dispute Resolution” from the Center for Public Resources; recognition as a “Top 50 Attorney in Pittsburgh” from Best Lawyers in America; recognition as a “Pittsburgh Lawyer of the Year” for both Litigation-Bankruptcy, Banking & Finance Law and Insurance Law over a five-year period by Best Lawyers; and ongoing listings in Best Lawyers from 1995 through 2019, including recent recognition in Bet-the-Company Litigation, Insurance Law, and Litigation.
Jim was also named a “Client Service All Star” by BTI Consulting, based on a survey of Fortune 1000 corporate counsel; included in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers for a dozen years; and regularly listed in Super Lawyers Business Edition, as well as Who’s Who Legal, The International Who’s Who of Insurance and Reinsurance Lawyers, and Chambers USA America's Leading Lawyers for Business.
“Jim was a rare legal talent that you see only once in a generation. When he walked up to a podium, everyone stopped and listened,” said Traci Rea, partner at Reed Smith and mentee of Jim’s. “He was an incredible teacher, mentor and friend. He was perfectly unique and authentic and will never be forgotten by the many whose lives he touched.”
A 1971 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Jim was an editor of the Georgetown Law Journal in 1970-71. In addition to building and leading the national litigation practice at Reed Smith, he frequently lectured on insurance coverage disputes, alternative dispute resolution and asbestos litigation to future attorneys in schools of law.
Jim was a member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County, Allegheny County Bar Association, the American Arbitration Association – Panel of Arbitrators, the Bankruptcy Inn of Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, the Defense Research Institute, the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution, and the Pennsylvania Panel of Neutrals. He was also a Special Master in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Jim is survived by his wife of 49 years, Gail Restivo; his four children, Chris Restivo, Andrea (Dan) Deutschendorf, Jason (Jody) Restivo, and James (Ashley) Restivo; and his brother Richard (Linda) Restivo and sister Rita (Bill) Rippin. He is the special grandfather of Rachel, Sydney, Lexi, Andrew, Lauren, J.T., David and Campbell.
Family and friends will be received on Jan. 3 from 2 to 8 p.m. at Beinhauer Family Funeral Homes, 2828 Washington Road, McMurray, Pa. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Jan. 4 at 10 a.m. in Our Lady of Grace Church, 310 Kane Blvd., Pittsburgh, Pa., 15243. Private interment in Queen of Heaven Cemetery. The family suggests memorial contributions to the American Cancer Society, donate3.cancer.org. Please view or add tributes at www.beinhauer.com.