No. 4 : Integrating Biography

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Eight Ideas for Using Biographies:

One.  Consider using one or more of these biographies in the following courses:  African Studies, Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Employment Discrimination, Human Rights, Immigration, International Human Rights, International Law, Islamic Law, Labor Relations and Employment, Law and Feminism, Law and Identity, Law and Medicine, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, National Security, Poverty Law, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Two.  Integrate excerpts of biographies into your doctrinal and clinical courses.

Three.  Create a collection of biographical material at your law school in the library or career services or public interest advising offices.

Four.  Encourage students to integrate biographical material in their seminars and independent studies.

Five.  Encourage students to integrate biographical material in their law review notes.

Six.  Create a reading group for interested students to discuss the careers of innovative and inspiring lawyers.

Seven.  Encourage your law school to assign biographical texts as summer reading prior to start of law school.

Eight.  Encourage students to reflect on how did the person or profiled challenge and transform the legal system to make it more just?  How was the person shaped by law and what challenges did the legal system pose to this person?   How does this person’s life offer a critique of the legal system?  How does knowing the story of this person alter your understanding of what law is and the role of the lawyer?  How do lawyer biographies alter your understanding of the rules of professional responsibility?

Twelve Biographies:

Lorraine K. Bannai, ENDURING CONVICTION: Fred Korematsu and his Quest for Justice (2015).   Fred Korematsu, a 22-year-old welder in Oakland, California, challenged the military orders that culminated in the incarceration of over 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.  In 1944, the Supreme Court, in one of its worst decisions ever, affirmed his conviction, accepting the government’s claim that its actions were justified by military necessity.  Forty year later, Mr. Korematsu reopened his case and successfully challenged his conviction.  He and his legal team proved his conviction was not based on military necessity but on racial discrimination. The author tells this story in a way that illustrates ways in which the wartime incarceration and Korematsu case have had disturbing continued relevance as the country continues to grapple with issues of race, stereotyping, and the extent to which it must sacrifice civil liberties in the name of national security.  Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Law and Social Change, Legal History, Litigation, National Security, Race and the Law.

Stephen Clingman, BRAM FISCHER: Afrikaner Revolutionary (2000).  Born into one of the most prominent white Afrikaner nationalist families, Fischer was a successful corporate mineral lawyer who ultimately realized he had to identify with all the people of South Africa.  His father was a judge and prime minister and his family had been there for six generations.  He became Nelson Mandela’s defense lawyer and assisted the African National Congress.  He was ultimately severely punished for directly joining in the resistance to the apartheid regime.  African Studies, Law and Social Change, Professional Responsibility, Race and the Law.

Sharin Ebadi, UNTIL WE ARE FREE: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran (2016).   First Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2003), as Iranian lawyer and judge she stood up for human rights of women, children and refugees despite horrendous government opposition.  She was surveilled, detained, interrogated and subject to constant threats.  This is a story of one person’s heroic uphill battle for justice against tremendous political opposition.  International Human Rights, Islamic Studies, Law and Feminism, Law and Identity, Law and Social Change, Professional Responsibility.

Fred Gray, BUS RIDE FOR JUSTICE: The Life and Works of Fred Gray (1995).  One of two black lawyers in Montgomery Alabama in 1954, after law school he returned home “determined to destroy everything segregated I could find.”  Counsel, at age 25, for Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., he became the local movement lawyer.  He participated in four landmark Supreme Court cases.  He represented freedom riders, sit-in demonstrators, the people who wanted to march from Selma to Montgomery, and victims of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.  Civil Rights, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Law and Medicine, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Change, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility.

Arthur Kinoy, RIGHTS ON TRIAL: The Odyssey of a People’s Lawyer (1983).   Autobiography of radical lawyer/professor who practiced law from the 1940s to the 1970s.  He critiques the law as he relates stories of cutting edge legal challenges with the labor movement where he sided with workers against companies, the civil rights movement where he fought against the violent white power structure, and other high profile cases involving civil liberties and anti-war movements.   Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Law and Social Change, Law and Social Movements, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility, Race and the Law.

Jules Lobel, SUCCESS WITHOUT VICTORY (2004).  Lobel details a number of important cases, many which ultimately lost, challenging the misuse of US power and the US Constitution.   These cases include: federal court challenges to US intervention in Central America, Iraq and Kosovo; Plessy v Ferguson; women’s suffrage and other principled cases which some could term unsuccessful.  Describing the lawyers, the parties, the theories and the ultimate results, Lobel identifies value even when mounting a losing legal challenge.  As Publishers Weekly wrote, “Success and failure are not determined by the immediate outcome of a given case; a lawsuit can be deemed successful if it arises from and gives expression to a valid principle and if it promotes culture of rights.” Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Change, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility.

Nelson Mandela, LONG WALK TO FREEDOM: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (1995).   Co-founder of the first law firm in South Africa of African lawyers in the early 1950s, Mandela became a people’s lawyer fighting white supremacy and apartheid.  He went on to become a leader of the African National Congress.  He was repeatedly arrested and ultimately convicted and jailed from early 1960s until 1990 for his liberation work.  After leaving prison he was instrumental in ending apartheid and was elected President of South Africa in 1994.  African Studies, Civil Rights, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Change, Professional Responsibility, Race and the Law.

Mari Matsuda, CALLED FROM WITHIN: Early Women Lawyers from Hawaii (1992), particularly the chapter on Harriet Bouslog written by Matsuda.  The only woman in her law school class she chose to practice on the side of laboring people and became the first woman labor lawyer in Hawaii.  She represented plantation workers and joined in their challenges to big sugar.  She defended radicals and challenged the death penalty.   She ultimately faced disbarment for her vigorous advocacy – see In re Sawyer, 260 F2d 189 (9th cir 1958).  Civil Rights, Law and Feminism, Labor Law, Law and Development, Law and Identity, Law and Social Justice, Litigation, Professional Responsibility. 

Jill Norgen, REBELS AT THE BAR: The Fascinating, Forgotten Stories of America’s First Women Lawyers (2016).  Reviewing the lives of 8 women lawyers of the 19th century showing that despite pervasive systematic legal, cultural and structural discrimination, these women fought for gender justice for themselves and for us.  Profiles include Belva Lockwood (active in campaigns for voting rights and equal pay became the first woman admitted to practice before the US Supreme Court in 1879) and Clara Foltz (first woman lawyer in California in 1878 who worked for voting rights and public defense for indigent criminal defendants).  Civil Rights, Law and Feminism, Law and Identity, Law and Social Change, Professional Responsibility.

Fran Quigley, HOW HUMAN RIGHTS CAN BUILD HAITI: Activists, Lawyers and the Grassroots Campaign (2014).  How activists in Haiti and the US and human rights lawyers in both countries learned to work together in a respectful way on some of the most severe human rights problems in this hemisphere.   Profiles Haitian human rights lawyer Mario Joseph and his US partner Brian Concannon and explores how they earned each other’s trust and willingness to partner.  Human Rights, International Human Rights, Law and Social Change, Law and Social Movements, Professional Responsibility, Transnational Legalism.

Sherie M. Randolph, FLORYNCE “FLO” KENNEDY: The Life of a Black Feminist Radical (2015).  The second woman to graduate from Columbia Law School, Kennedy used the courts, the media and organizing to fight for black power and feminism as she fought against racism and sexism together.  She represented a wide range of people from the Black Panthers to the estates of Billie Holiday.  A founding member of the National Organization for Women she challenged Harvard, the Catholic Church, and big media.  Civil Rights, Law and Feminism, Law and Identity, Law and Social Change, Litigation, Professional Responsibility, Race and the Law.

Dave Riddle, David Elsila and Steve Babson, THE COLOR OF LAW: Ernie Goodman, Detroit, and the Struggle for Labor and Civil Rights (2010).  From the 1930s through the 1970s, this lawyer blended civil rights and labor law fighting with others in movements for social justice and racial equality.  Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Labor Relations and Employment, Law and Social Change, Law and Social Movements, Legal History, Litigation, Poverty Law, Professional Responsibility, Race and the Law.

Bryan Stevenson, JUST MERCY: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2014).  A gifted and humble storyteller, Stevenson narrates infuriating first person tales of taking on the racist criminal legal system in the Deep South.  This book tells the stories of death row clients and the deeply flawed systems that put them there.  Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Law and Social Change, Law and Social Movements, Legal History, Litigation, Poverty Law, Professional Responsibility, Race and the Law.

Bonus Section!  Twenty four additional biographies of progressive lawyers which should be in every law school library:

Sarah Hart Brown, STANDING AGAINST DRAGONS: Three Southern Lawyers in an Era of Fear (2000).   Examines the lives, cases and challenges of three radical southern white civil rights and civil liberties lawyers in the pre-Brown v Board of Education days who lived and worked in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana.  Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Employment Discrimination, Labor Relations and Employment, Law and Social Movements, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Mark Curriden and Leroy Phillips, CONTEMPT OF COURT: The Turn of the Century Lynching That Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism (2001).   In 1906, an African American lawyer in Chattanooga, Tennessee took over the defense of a wrongfully convicted young black man and persuaded the US Supreme Court to block his execution.  Within days, a white mob grabbed him from the jail, over minimal protests from the ex-confederate sheriff, and lynched him.  The US Supreme Court then ordered and held a criminal trial of the Sheriff and local officials for contempt resulting in the case of US v Shipp, 203 US 563 (1906).   Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Martha Davis, BRUTAL NEED: Lawyers and the Welfare Rights Movement 1960-1973 (1995).  Excellent book documents the stories of the lawyers in the 1960s who handled individual cases for poor people and those trying to trying to use law as an instrument of social change and to create a movement.  Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Poverty Law, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Mark Elliott, COLOR BLIND JUSTICE: Albion Tourgee and the Quest for Racial Equality from the Civil War to Plessy v Ferguson (2008).   Ohio born white Union Army veteran became an antiracist lawyer in North Carolina.   Lead attorney in Plessy v Ferguson fought for color-blind justice.  Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

John A. Farrell, CLARENCE DARROW: Attorney for the Damned (2012).  The nation’s premier progressive trial lawyer known for defending the underdog including union organizers, the teacher who taught evolution, defendants facing the death penalty, and many others. Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Labor Relations and Employment, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility.

Ann Fagan Ginger, CAROL WEISS KING: Human Rights Lawyer, 1895-1952 (1993).   A founder of the National Lawyers Guild, King opened her own law practice in 1921.  She practiced immigration law, civil liberties, and criminal defense appeals.  In her thirty year career she represented many radicals, foreign and domestic.  Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Immigration, Labor Relations and Employment, Law and Feminism, Law and Identity, Legal History, Litigation, National Security, Professional Responsibility.

Brandt Goldstein, STORMING THE COURT: How a Band of Yale Law Students Sued the President – and Won (2005).   Ten years before it became the site of indefinite detention for suspects in the “war on terror” Guantanamo was the site of detention for Haitians who fled their country. Law students joined with law professor and lawyers to represent a fleeing Haitian woman with HIV who was indefinitely detained at Guantanamo Bay by policies of Bush the elder.  Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Immigration, International Human Rights, International Law, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, National Security, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Benjamin Carter Hett, CROSSING HITLER: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand (2008).  German left-wing lawyer who fought against the Nazis in court and paid the ultimate price.  Human Rights, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Professional Responsibility.

John Horgan, MARY ROBINSON: A Woman of Ireland and the World (1997).  Irish civil rights lawyer went on to become the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights and the President of Ireland.  Human Rights, International Human Rights, International Law, Law and Feminism, Law and Identity, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Professional Responsibility.

Christopher Johnson, MAURICE SUGAR: Law, Labor, and the Left in Detroit, 1912-1950 (1988).   Jailed in 1918 for refusing to register for the draft, Sugar was a Marxist outsider lawyer who became a tenacious labor union lawyer.  Defending strikers in the 1920s and 1930s he helped the unions build black-labor coalitions with the United Auto Workers who packed courtrooms and engaged in civil disobedience.   Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Employment Discrimination, Labor Relations and Employment, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, National Security, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Marlise James, THE PEOPLE’S LAWYERS: The Radicalization of the Legal Profession (1973).  Compilation of brief sketches and interviews with wide range of left lawyers practicing civil rights, civil liberties, criminal defense representing Black Panthers, United Farmworkers and progressive groups.  Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Employment Discrimination, Human Rights, Labor Relations and Employment, Law and Social Movements, Legal History, Litigation, National Security, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Judith Kilpatrick, THERE WHEN WE NEEDED HIM: Wiley Austin Branton, Civil Rights Warrior (2007).  Young brilliant black local lawyer co-counsels on a case in his home town with Thurgood Marshall challenging the segregation of the Little Rock School Board.  He then goes to DC and practices civil rights and government service before becoming the Dean of Howard Law.  Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Employment Discrimination, Human Rights, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

James S Kunen, “HOW CAN YOU DEFEND THOSE PEOPLE?”: The Making of a Criminal Lawyer (2012).  Author’s story of working with Public Defender’s office in DC.  Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Poverty Law, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

David J. Langum, WILLIAM KUNTSLER: The Most Hated Lawyer in America (1999).  From New York City and the Center for Constitutional Rights to the Mississippi Freedom movement, to the Attica prison riot, to Wounded Knee, Kuntsler was everywhere and always high profile.  Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Employment Discrimination, Human Rights, Immigration, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, National Security, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom, BELLA ABZUG:  How One Tough Broad from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy, Pissed Off Jimmy Carter, Battled for the Rights of Women and … Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way (2007).   Labor lawyer who took up civil rights became Congressional representative.   The subtitle of this book says it all.  Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Employment Discrimination, Human Rights, Labor Relations and Employment, Law and Feminism, Law and Identity, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility.

Conrad Lynn, THERE IS A FOUNTAIN: The Autobiography of Conrad Lynn (1993) story of Black socialist liberation attorney who fought alongside and defended many revolutionaries.  Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, National Security, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Genna Rae McNeil, GROUNDWORK: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Struggle for Civil Rights. (1984). Profile of one of the most important founders and advocates for civil rights.  Quiet, determined and ferociously hard working, Houston, an African American graduate of Amherst and Harvard Law, became involved in numerous high profile cases and assumed a leading role at Howard Law.  Insisting that lawyers were either social engineers or parasites, he became Special Counsel to the NAACP and helped shape its legal challenges to segregation.  Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Employment Discrimination, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Douglass G. Morris, JUSTICE IMPERILED: The Anti-Nazi Lawyer Max Hirschberg in Weimar Germany (2005).  German Jewish Anti-Nazi lawyer who fought to overturn convictions of the wrongfully incarcerated in the 1920s and 1930s.  Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility.

Pauli Murray, PAULI MURRAY: The Autobiography of a Black Activist, Feminist, Lawyer, Priest, and Poet (1989).  Denied admission from the University of North Carolina in 1938 because she was black, Murray helped form the civil rights organization the Congress of Racial Equality in the 1940s.   Denied admission to Harvard Law in 1944 because she was a woman, she received her law degree from the University of California.  Author of several books and a civil rights activist, Murray was tarred by McCarthyism and lost a job at Cornell.  In the 1970s she became an Episcopal priest.    Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Employment Discrimination, Law and Feminism, Law and Identity, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Professional Responsibility.

Victor Rabinowitz, UNREPENTANT LEFTIST: A Lawyer’s Memoir (1996).  Active as the lawyer for Cuba, defending Black Panthers, high profile dissidents, and those accused of being communists, he also fought for civil rights in the south, and helped found the National Lawyers Guild, this book contains many stories of a 50 year career radical lawyer. Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, National Security, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Dorothy S. Shawhan and Martha H. Swain, LUCY SOMMERVILLE HOWORTH: New Deal Lawyer, Politician, and Feminist from the South (2006).  One of two women in her University of Mississippi law school class she became a judge and helped fight against segregation and for women’s rights.  Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Law and Feminism, Law and Identity, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility.

Lori Sturdevant, HER HONOR: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement (2014).  The women’s rights movement in Minnesota provides the background for the story of the first woman on the Minnesota Supreme Court.  Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Employment Discrimination, Law and Feminism, Law and Identity, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Professional Responsibility.

Artika Tyner, THE LAWYER AS LEADER: How to Plant People and Grow Justice (2015).   Profiles of four social justice lawyers and the transformational leadership characteristics they represent.  Author offers brief profiles of Bonnie Allen of the Mississippi Center for Justice, Edgar Cahn of Timebanks, Kekima Levy-Pounds of Community Justice Project and john a powell civil rights activist professor and author.  Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, Employment Discrimination, Labor Relations and Employment, Law and Feminism, Law and Identity, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Poverty Law, Professional Responsibility and Race and the Law.

Mark H. Weber and Stephen H. Paschen, SIDE BY SIDE: Alice and Staughton Lynd, the Ohio Years (2014).  Study of grassroots activism “accompaniment” by lawyer and partner who litigate, create cooperatives, organize and live in the community which suffers massive layoffs from steel mill closures.  Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Employment Discrimination, Labor Relations and Employment, Law and Social Movements, Law and Social Justice, Legal History, Litigation, Poverty Law, Professional Responsibility.

** Thanks to the dozens of lawyers who suggested these biographies.  This list will be updated so additional suggestions for biographies and courses in which they might be used are welcome.  Send suggestions to guerrillaguides@gmail.com.

 

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