J. Ronald Shiff, 44, business, tax attorney

May 18, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

J. Ronald Shiff, an attorney who concentrated on business, real estate and complex tax matters, died of a heart attack Sunday while playing racquetball at the Greenspring Racquet Club. The Owings Mills resident was 44.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Labyrinth Road, he was a 1976 graduate of Northwestern High School and earned an economics degree at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received a law degree and master's degree in taxation from Georgetown University. He was admitted to the District of Columbia bar in 1982 and the Maryland bar in early 1983.

He initially worked at Federal Trade Commission and later at Coopers & Lybrand, both in Washington.

In 1985, he joined the firm of Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander in downtown Baltimore. In 1989, at the age of 29, he was named a partner - the youngest in the firm's history.

He headed his law firm's tax planning group. He also represented clients involved in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and other tax authorities.

"Ron was an extremely bright, energetic, creative lawyer," said attorney Abba David Poliakoff, a colleague and friend for 19 years. "He was a deal maker, a business adviser and a charming and personable individual. He was more than a technician; he had the art of solving problems, not just identifying roadblocks."

"My nickname for him was Rocket Ron. He could arrive at the right answer to a complicated question faster than anyone I knew," said Richard F. Lindstrom, a law partner. "He was very focused, and he knew where he wanted to go. And he was confident he was going to get there."

Mr. Shiff wrote many articles for law journals, wrote books on tax practice and lectured at seminars on tax law. He was also an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

In 1983, he married the former Wendy Lozinsky, also an attorney. They were co-chairs of the League for People With Disabilities' Campaign Leadership Corporate Gifts Committee. Mr. Shiff also served as the nonprofit group's primary counsel. He was also a board member and officer of the University of Maryland's Hillel Center in College Park.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Daniel, 14, and a daughter, Lindsay, 13; and a brother, Steven Shiff of Owings Mills.

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