Maynard Toll, Prominent L.A. Attorney, Ex-School Board Chief, Civic Leader, Dies

Times Staff Writer

Maynard J. Toll, prominent Los Angeles attorney, former president of the city school board and civic leader, died Friday afternoon in Good Samaritan Hospital at 82. His death was attributed to natural causes.

Toll was the former chairman of the management committee of O’Melveny & Myers, the law firm he joined in 1930 after graduating from Harvard Law School. He was credited with a key role in building its national reputation before retiring in December, 1979.

For many years, he was director of the firm’s tax department, which he established.

Warren Christopher, present chairman of the firm’s management committee, called Toll “a central figure in the modern firm of O’Melveny & Myers” and noted that he was the first non-family member chosen chairman after “more than eight decades of wise leadership from Henry and John O’Melveny.”


Christopher said Toll was able to “unite the firm because he regularly combined the candor and clear-headedness of an exemplary business lawyer with the extraordinary sensitivity for the feelings of other people.”

Christopher said Toll’s willingness to do pro bono work “inspired generations of O’Melveny lawyers” to get involved in community service. He added that Toll “was always deeply involved in service to the public.”

Toll has been cited by O’Melveny & Myers attorney Richard E. Sherwood--who in 1956 became the first Jewish lawyer hired by the firm--as being one of those responsible for breaking down what had been a pattern of exclusion by large downtown Los Angeles law firms.

As a board member and president of the National Legal Aid and Defender Assn., Toll was a force behind federal funding for legal services for the poor. He helped persuade the American Bar Assn. to support federal Office of Economic Opportunity legal services.


Toll was born in Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 1906, the son of bank executive Charles H. Toll, who served as a city councilman from 1896 to 1900. His mother, Eleanor Joy Toll, was president of the Glendale Board of Education and acting superintendent of Glendale public schools during World War I.

Maynard Toll went through high school in Glendale, then attended UCLA and UC Berkeley, where he graduated in 1927. He graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude three years later and joined O’Melveny & Myers, becoming a partner in 1940.

In 1945, he was appointed to the Los Angeles school board to fill a vacancy. He was elected to a full term in 1946 and served as president in 1948-49.

In 1953, he became chairman of the Los Angeles Community Chest campaign. It was a year in which more money was raised than in any previous chest drive. He helped organize the United Way.

He also served as a trustee and president of the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. and was a founding trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Toll is survived by his wife, Ethel, whom he married in 1929, as well as three daughters and two sons. They are Arline T. Kensinger, Deborah T. Reynolds, Janet T. Davidson, Maynard J. Toll Jr. and Roger C. Toll. He also leaves 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Services are pending.