Adam Phillip Janet, a partner in a Baltimore law firm who was regarded as a gifted young attorney, died of adrenocortical cancer June 29 at his Pikesville home. He was 30.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Stevenson and Owings Mills, he was the son of Howard Alan Janet, an attorney, and his wife, the former Rina Lee Smelkinson, who was active in the Jewish community and once headed Israel Bonds of Maryland.
He was a 2007 Gilman School cum laude graduate and was co-captain of the school’s wrestling team, and placed for his weight class in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship tournament.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies at Northwestern University and wrote a thesis on the Renaissance philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, a 15th century Christian Hebraist whose controversial “900 Theses” was banned by the Church.
Mr. Janet met his future wife, Corinne Allison Bernstein, at a freshman orientation at Northwestern University’s Hillel.
In 2014 he earned a magna cum laude degree at the University of Maryland School of Law, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif, an honor society.
“Adam was one of the most remarkable members of his class,” said Robert J. Condlin, a professor at the University of Maryland. “[He was] one of a dozen or so graduates that stick in my mind after 47 years of law school teaching. He represented the best that law schools produced. He was smart, decent, caring, and had the integrity, honesty and maturity of a fully formed adult.”
Mr. Janet interned with the Civil Litigation Division of the Maryland Attorney General’s office and with Judge Robert McDonald of the Maryland Court of Appeals.
“Adam was smart and got to the nub of an issue quickly," Judge McDonald said. "He seemed a very compassionate guy who was mature for his youth.”
After graduating from law school, he joined his father’s plaintiffs’ law firm, now known as Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC.
His father said Mr. Janet argued cases before the Maryland Court of Appeals and helped create a law that holds adults civilly liable for furnishing alcohol in a social setting to underage drivers whose drunken driving injures other drivers or pedestrians.
His said his son assumed a significant role in firm management. He was instrumental in adding representation of sexual abuse survivors as one of the firm’s areas of concentration.
He also worked in cases involving injuries from defective hernia mesh and GranuFlo, a substance administered to dialysis patients.
“Working side by side with Adam brought me immeasurable joy and pride," his father said. "He impressed me to no end with his legal skills and with his business acumen. We loved discussing cases and business strategy. It wasn’t long before Adam was giving me meaningful advice regarding firm operations. Last year, Adam became a named partner in the firm. ... He earned it.
“He was a phenomenal leader and was a great friend to people. His friends were precious to him,” his father said.
Mr. Janet was a member of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore’s Young Leadership Council. He was a committee member of the Jewish Volunteer Connection’s Mitzvah Day.
Rabbi Steven Schwartz, of Beth El Congregation said in remarks at his funeral: "Adam was ... my intellectual sparring partner, the confirmation student who would stay after class and ask challenging questions about what we had studied, the college student who sent emails that were thoughtful and intellectually rigorous, who majored in religious studies, and whose Jewish identity grew stronger and deeper during his four years at Northwestern.
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“Adam was the high holidays congregant who would gently and respectfully — Adam always was a gentleman — point out where a sermon may have a had a weak point — or two.”
Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein of Northwestern University, who also spoke at the funeral, said: "Adam’s ability to touch and inspire people he came in contact with was impressive. It was forthright and honest. He was a genuine person without any hidden agendas and a person with integrity. He was a man whom we could all trust.
“He was a true friend. If you were in need, you could count on him to be there for you. He was loyal. When I was going through my difficult times Adam was in my corner 100 percent. Adam, in his own way got things done. He was a doer."
Mr. Janet was a Ravens and Orioles fan and watched college wrestling, including Northwestern’s team. He read widely and enjoyed music and comedy. He was a Conan O’Brien fan and visited him in Los Angeles.
In addition to his father and wife of four years, a former coordinator of leadership development at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, survivors include his daughter, Ricki Leora Janet; a brother, Andrew Samuel Janet of Pikesville; and his grandmother, Miriam Smelkinson of Baltimore. His mother died in 2018.