Larger Than Life

A year ago today my husband, Michael Gollin, was preparing to leave this life. He used his remaining visual strength to say goodbye via letter board to all of us who loved him. He joked and communed with his family, enjoying us as we enjoyed him. He instructed us to water the plants and feed the birds . . . and then he was gone.

Or not.

This year I’ve come to appreciate that Michael was and is larger than life. Not in the Paul-Bunyan-and-Babe sense, or with the outsized personality of a celebrity, but larger in his sheer reach.

In life, his friendships transcended time. Michael stayed happily close to his friend-since-birth Judy Harway and felt joy at seeing his friend-since-middle-age Dick Morris–and many friends from the intervening years. Since his passing, friends like Judy and Maura Harway, Barry Temkin, David Thaler, Mike Polacek and Mike Lyon have touched base, sharing their memories of Michael. We all speculate about his whereabouts, but we know he’s carrying on in our minds. He influences our decisions, urges us to be our best selves, and makes us laugh.

His ideas, too, reached a larger audience than the average person’s. From his thoughtful perspective on intellectual property to his skeptical-but-ever-hopeful analysis of politics, Michael possessed and vigorously used what he liked to call an “orthogonal mind.” He loved to play the Devil’s advocate, to challenge conventional wisdom and map out new strategies for his clients. I am really glad he got to enjoy positive feedback and counterpoint for his two books and his blog during his lifetime. But they continue to  be read around the world and will shape others’ knowledge and actions for many years to come.

“Remember me kindly, but honestly,” Michael told us. We of his family will remember him fondly, hilariously, and yes, honestly, at Thanksgiving in Rochester this week. If you have any remembrances of Michael that you’d like to share, please post them below.

Thank you,

Jill Dickey

National Law Journal Review of My Book

Former Venable Life Sciences Head Publishes Memoir

Katelyn Polantz, The National Law Journal
April 26, 2016

Michael Gollin, a founder of Venable’s life science practice, has for four years struggled as his mobility declined. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS, has set in. Yet he’s been as active as ever in thinking about his life’s work.

One of his theses, written as verses to a song late last year: “I learned the most important thing / With my disease onset / No one lives forever / But I’m not dead yet. / Yes! We’re not dead yet.”

Gollin has collected much of his recent writing on a blog, Now those pieces are available as an ebook, which his sister, Kathryn Marshak, who formerly worked in publishing, helped distribute this year. It is available on The book includes new essays as well as writings from Gollin’s blog dating back to August 2012.

Gollin, 58, writes on his smart phone, and he has a language synthesizer that uses his own voice, recorded years ago, to speak.

“When I was diagnosed with ALS, I was dragged into a terrifying new situation, but I realized how lucky I’ve been in life, and I quickly resolved to make the best of the situation,” Gollin wrote recently. “It has been surprisingly liberating to explore this uncharted territory.”

Below are a few poems and essays from Gollin’s newest work.

Cherry Blossom
Crossing the Delaware
Never Give Up
At Sea
BIO Conference