With deep regret, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy announces the passing of one of our beloved partners, colleague and friend Pete McCloskey. Pete passed away on May 8, 2024 peacefully in his home.

Paul N. “Pete” McCloskey, Jr., was a partner at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, and was considered to be one of the country’s great trial lawyers, as well as a great public servant and war hero.

A renowned attorney who tried over 100 jury trials, Pete began his law career as Deputy District Attorney for Alameda County, and then as the founding partner in the law firm of McCloskey, Wilson & Mosher, which evolved into the firm of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati.

During his law career, Pete served as President of the Palo Alto Bar Association, President of the Conference of Barristers of the State Bar of California, and as a Trustee of the Santa Clara Bar Association.

Pete received his B.A. from Stanford University and his J.D. from Stanford Law School. He has written four books and has taught legal ethics and political science at Stanford and Santa Clara Universities. His books include: Guide to Professional Conduct for New Practitioners, California State Bar (1961); The U.S. Constitution, BRL (1961); Truth and Untruth: Political Deceit in America, Simon & Shuster (1971); and The Taking of Hill 610, Eaglet Books (1992), describing his service in Korea.

After Stanford University, Pete joined the Marine Corps as an officer and served in the Korean War. While in the Marine Corps section, he commanded a reserve rifle company at San Bruno, California from 1953 to 1960. A recipient of the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism, the Silver Star for bravery in combat, and two Purple Hearts, Pete was a platoon leader and company commander. He retired from the Reserve with the rank of Colonel.

Pete served from 1967 to 1983 in the U.S. House of Representatives and was re-elected seven times representing the San Francisco Peninsula and Silicon Valley. He served six years as Congressional Delegate to the International Whaling Conference and as Congressional Advisor to the Law of the Sea Treaty Delegation. An ardent environmentalist, he was co-chair of the first Earth Day in 1970 with Senator Gaylord Nelson. In 1972, he ran for President on an anti-Vietnam War platform against Richard Nixon. One of Pete’s enduring legacies is his co-authorship of the 1973 Endangered Species Act. After serving in Congress for 15 years, Pete returned to private practice, taking on tough complex cases.

He served as a Trustee for the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the Population Action Institute, and the U.S. Marine Corps Academy in Harlingen, Texas. Appointed by President George H. W. Bush, Pete served--and was elected its first chairman--on the U.S. Commission on National and Community Service from 1990 to 1992.

Pete served on the Advisory Council of the American Land Conservancy. He was at the forefront of helping Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans receive college educations upon their return from duty. He served on the Board of Advisors of The Fund for Veterans’ Education.

A film, entitled American Maverick, was done on the life and times of Pete McCloskey. The film is narrated by the late Paul Newman who said, “Pete McCloskey has spent his life fighting for peace” and “without doubt he will always be leading from the front.”

Click on the link below to see more photographs of Pete.


Pete McCloskey with his wife, Helen

McCloskey at Martin's Beach

Pete McCloskey with three-star North Korean general

San Francisco Baykeeper team with Pete McCloskey and Joseph Cotchett

Pete McCloskey with three-star North Korean general

McCloskey with Paul Newman

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Former Congressman Pete McCloskey, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Joseph Cotchett

Pete McCloskey with veterans in Washington, D.C.

Pete McCloskey with Major Kurt Lee

Tom Brokaw interviewing Pete McCloskey



Speaking Engagements

Honors & Awards

Honors & Recognitions

Recipient of the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism

Recipient of the Silver Star for bravery in combat 

Recipient of two Purple Hearts

No Gun Ri Peace Commission Peace Prize Award

Peninsula Coalition Lifetime Achievement Award

Sierra Club Environmental Hero's Award



Korea War Memorial Association, President

Palo Alto Bar Association, Past President

Conference of Barristers of the State Bar of California, Past President

Santa Clara Bar Association, Past Trustee

Community Involvement

Serves on the Board of Advisors of The Fund for Veterans’ Education

Practice Areas


Stanford Law School, J.D.

Stanford University, B.A.

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