Born May 9, 1930, in Bangor, Maine, Ralph attended the College of the Holy Cross and Harvard Law School before serving two years in the U.S. Army and then as the first judicial clerk to United States District Judge Edward T. Gignoux. Ralph joined Pierce Atwood in 1959.
Among Ralph’s many accomplishments, he was appointed as a Special Master by the United States Supreme Court on four occasions; appointed by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as Independent Counsel to investigate the U.S. Secretary of Labor; served as trial counsel for the United States at The Hague International Court of Justice, President of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Supreme Court Historical Society, Chair of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, and President of the Maine State Bar Association. Ralph founded the Maine Assistance Program for Lawyers and Judges, and he was involved in many other professional activities, professional associations, and initiatives devoted to improving the administration of justice in both state and federal courts.
While Ralph’s practice cut across many legal specialties and areas of expertise, he was most proud of being a trial lawyer, and he built a reputation as one of the finest and most respected trial lawyers in the nation.
A fixture in courtrooms across the country, Ralph tried civil and criminal cases from murder and white collar crime to complex commercial cases. As Independent Counsel, Ralph conducted a federal criminal investigation of a sitting member of the President’s Cabinet in a manner widely hailed and lauded for its integrity and efficiency. He also devoted countless hours to pro bono services for low income residents of Maine and to the many nonprofit and charitable organizations and causes that benefitted from his commitment over many decades. Ralph throughout his career found immense satisfaction representing clients in personal injury cases because, as he stated, he found it “ … very rewarding when you can help people, especially those who are at the points in their lives when they most need help.”
“While our firm has been blessed with many extraordinary lawyers and leaders throughout its long history, no one played a more important role in creating and elevating Pierce Atwood’s culture and reputation for excellence than Ralph Lancaster,” said David Barry, Pierce Atwood’s managing partner. “We all recognized Ralph’s immense ability and intellect and his unmatched work ethic, but we also knew him as fair, ethical, kind and possessed of a mischievous and playful sense of humor that brightened so many of our days. Ralph was a legal giant and an extraordinary man. He was a mentor who shaped and propelled the careers and professional opportunities of so many lawyers both inside and outside of our firm. We will miss Ralph very much, and we will honor his legacy by continuing the tradition of excellence in the practice of law that was so important to him.”