Do you want a look inside the otherwise opaque world of lawyers? Listen and you shall hear. Like when as a fledging lawyer I was assigned a criminal case to defend pro bono. I thought the defendant had been imprisoned too long to have received the speedy trial guaranteed by the Constitution, and took my argument to Judge Charles Wyzanski, appointed by FDR, and by then a mythical jurist, respected by all, feared by many. He bought my argument, and angrily summoned then Massachusetts United States Attorney, Elliott Richardson, who went on to world fame, to fess up. The case ended well, and Larry and Elliott, an odd couple for sure, became longtime friends.
Several other well regarded attorneys, who may have viewed my work habits dimly, affected my development profoundly. Like Morris Michelson, a meticulous lawyer’s lawyer civil trial attorney who taught me the basics of that craft, introduced me to my lifelong passion for classical music, and to a Committee of top Boston lawyers committed to social justice and Jewish values.
My early association with wizard real estate attorney and draftsman, Melvin Newman, brought out my previously hidden talent for the facile and clear drafting of legal documents. Through Mel I met Julian Cohen, not a lawyer, but a fabulously talented real estate developer, Chief Fueling Officer in his twenties for convoys in the North Atlantic in WWII, the biggest philanthropist to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and to my good fortune, a valued friend.
Another legal eagle of my youth was Sumner Kaplan, Judge, Selectman, General in the Army, and State Representative, who was instrumental in my appointment as an Assistant AG for Civil Rights in the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Edward J. McCormack, Jr., whose uncle, John W. McCormack, was Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. My senior there was Gerald Berlin, a clarinet playing tough Southerner transplanted from Virginia, appointed by the forward looking Eddie McCormack to lead his newly formed and groundbreaking Office of Civil Rights. Gerry was passionate about fairness in our country, and included me to assist in the United Stated Supreme Court case of “Gideon vs. Wainwright,” one of the most famous cases in 20th Century jurisprudence.
The best friend of all is Paul Sugarman, who rose from nearbthe bottom rung of the societal heap to the very top of the ladder as perhaps Boston’s top lawyer of the last half of the 20th Century, a man for all seasons, who found time to be my longtime friend in and out of bad times.
People, always People.