Gil Kraus was a Jewish business lawyer in Philadelphia. But when the head of the Jewish fraternal order Brith Sholom approached him in 1939, it wasn’t for business advice. Instead, Louis Levine had a proposition for Kraus. Brith Sholom (of which Kraus was a member) had recently built a 25-bedroom dwelling in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. It had been intended as a home for the elderly, but at the moment was standing empty. Did Kraus think he could find a way to evacuate some Jewish children from Nazi Germany and house them there, instead?
Kraus did. And the story of how he found a loophole in immigration law and traveled with his wife, Eleanor, to save 50 children from the Third Reich is told in Steven Pressman’s new book, 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany.
Pressman discovered this history through chance. Shortly after Pressman met Liz Perle, who would one day become his wife, she showed him an inch-thick cardboard binder full of onionskin paper. It was a manuscript, written by her grandmother Eleanor Kraus, detailing the whole harrowing saga. Once Pressman verified that this was indeed a true story, he was fascinated.
A decade later, Pressman was able to turn the story in the documentary 50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus, which aired on HBO. But as he tells ABA Journal podcast editor Lee Rawles, much had to be left out of the movie. In his new book, he was able to expand on many parts of the story. Pressman has been able to locate and determine the fates of 37 of the rescued children, and included in the book are many pictures and personal remembrances from them.
The 50 children whom the Krauses were able to evacuate from Vienna in the spring of 1939 were the largest single group of unaccompanied Jewish children to be admitted to the United States during the Holocaust. From 1933-1945, because of strict immigration quotas, only about 1,100 unaccompanied Jewish children were allowed into the country; about 1.5 million children were killed in the Nazis’ Final Solution, Pressman says.
In this podcast, Pressman discusses the loophole Kraus found to obtain visas for the children; the obstacles Kraus and other would-be rescuers faced; and how the anti-Semitic climate in the United States affected immigration law during that period.
50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus (film site)
LIFE: “‘50 Children’: An American Couple’s Mission to Save Kids from the Third Reich” (slideshow)
Wall Street Journal (sub. req.): “Book Review: ‘50 Children’ by Steven Pressman”
San Jose Mercury News: “Steven Pressman’s ‘50 Children’ is an account of young lives rescued from the Holocaust”
USA Today: “‘50 Children’ remembers forgotten Holocaust rescue mission”
Great trial lawyers should be great storytellers. But how do you remember everything you need to, and look confident while doing it?
To find out, we spoke with Billy Martin, who is a high-profile Washington, D.C., lawyer and the veteran of more than 150 jury trials. Notecards should be used as props, not crutches, he says, and with sufficient preparation, you can free yourself from depending on them. He shares with us his tips.
How did an 18th-century British judge whose advice on how to treat American revolutionaries was “if you do not kill them, they will kill you” come to be cited in more than 330 U.S. Supreme Court opinions?
William Murray was born in 1705 to a Scottish family in decided disfavor with the crown due to their support for the Jacobite cause. Yet he rose to become Chief Justice of the Court of King’s Bench, first Earl of Mansfield and one of King George III’s closest advisers—and on the way, left an indelible mark not only on British jurisprudence, but on the laws of the United States as well.
Lord Mansfield’s decisions from the 1700s have been cited in SCOTUS cases to support such bedrock American legal principles as:
• A confession must be voluntary to be admissible as evidence.
• Libel is not protected by the First Amendment.
• Custody disputes are decided based upon the welfare of the child.
• Electronic surveillance for domestic security purposes requires a warrant.
• Habeas corpus applies to prisoners being held by the government even outside the geographical boundaries of the United States.
Lord Mansfield, who died in 1793, was no fan of the upstart American colonists. Thomas Jefferson was so irked at Mansfield’s fervent opposition to the revolutionaries during the Revolutionary War that he declared, “I hold it essential, in America, to forbid that any English decision which has happened since the accession of Lord Mansfield to the bench [in 1756], should ever be cited in a court; though there have come many good ones from him, yet there is so much sly poison instilled into a great part of them, that it is better to proscribe the whole.”
But his legacy endured, and his reputation in the United States continued to grow. ABA Journal Podcast Editor Lee Rawles speaks with professor Norman S. Poser about his recent biography, Lord Mansfield: Justice in the Age of Reason, and how this particular British judge managed to have such a continuing influence on Anglo-American laws. We also discuss Mansfield’s Somerset decision, which eventually led to the abolition of slavery in Great Britain.
Wall Street Journal: “Book Review: ‘Lord Mansfield,’ by Norman Poser” (sub. req.)
With more than one billion people on Facebook each month, there’s probably a higher chance of reaching potential clients there than through more traditional lawyer advertising methods, like phone book listings or direct mail. But how can lawyers take advantage of Facebook ethically and effectively?
ABA Journal reporter Stephanie Francis Ward speaks with our guests to hear about their experiences and get tips on how lawyers can best utilize their Facebook accounts to attract clients.
Laws, much like warning labels, usually exist because someone, somewhere, tried to do something inadvisable. Lawmakers are also tasked with thinking up the weird things people might try to do; which is probably how the board of commissioners in Skamania County, Wash., ended up composing Ordinance No. 69-01, making it a felony to shoot and kill a sasquatch.
Author and attorney Kevin Underhill is fascinated by such laws, and in his new book The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance: And Other Real Laws that Human Beings Have Actually Dreamed Up, Enacted and Sometimes Even Enforced, he has compiled more than 200 examples of some truly peculiar laws going back more than 4,000 years. He discusses some of his findings, and how he came to write this book, with ABA Journal podcast editor Lee Rawles.
BoingBoing: “The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and Other Real Laws”
Some law practices don’t work out, and others die out. How can lawyers tweak what they do—and how they present themselves—to stay relevant? Our guests tell ABA Journal reporter Stephanie Francis Ward how they reinvented their practices and shifted careers, and how others can do so too.
Written primarily by and for women, romance novels have historically been derided in many literary circles. But with $1.438 billion in sales in 2012, the romance genre is responsible for the largest share of the U.S. book publishing market, according to Romance Writers of America. The next most successful genre is mystery, which came in at $728.2 million.
So with the number of lawyers-turned-authors out there, combined with the mammoth size of the romance publishing industry, perhaps it is unsurprising that so many romance novelists have law degrees.
“If you go to an RWA conference and you’re talking to any group of authors of more than about eight people, and you say, ‘Well, the day job is I practice law,’ it’s amazing the number of people who say, ‘Oh yeah, me too! What kind?’” says Grace Burrowes, who runs a solo practice and has written more than 20 romance novels.
“There’s a horrible stereotype of both the romance writer and the romance reader as somehow undereducated and unprofessional, when in fact there are a number of incredibly well-educated professional women who have chosen to leave their other careers and go into writing romance,” says author Lauren Willig, who sold her first novel, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, when she was a 1L at Harvard Law School. “I got that in law school only from one person, a guy in my section who was not the brightest dish in the drawer. When the news got out about the book deal—and I published under my own name, so it was all over the place—he said, ‘Oh, so you’re writing one of these sex books,’ and I said, ‘No, no, it’s a romance novel, there’s a difference!’ And then I graduated magna cum laude and he didn’t get honors, and he stopped being quite so snarky.”
In honor of Valentine’s Day, ABA Journal podcast editor Lee Rawles spoke with four lawyer romance novelists about their careers; how their legal training helped them as writers; and misconceptions people hold about both the law and about the romance genre.
In search of adventure, but feel tied to your desk? Rugger Burke is proof that the practice of law is not incompatible with sailing the high seas, motorcycling across a continent, meditating in a monastery or scouring the Hawaiian islands for the perfect fish tacos.
He speaks with Jenny B. Davis, author of our February 2014 cover story “These lawyers wind down with amped-up vacations,” about how he arranges time away from work; how he keeps in touch with the office while in the remotest of locations; and the ingenious ways he has of packing light.
In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, many attorneys have vowed to become more physically active. Attorney-authors Ryan Danz and Keith Robert Lee both say that martial arts training is particularly beneficial to lawyers, and they explain to the ABA Journal’s Lee Rawles exactly why.
In Danz’s book, Jiu Jitsu Jurisprudence, he discusses how learning Brazilian jiujitsu not only had benefits for his body but taught him mental techniques he is able to use in his practice of law. Lee, author The Marble and the Sculptor, agrees. “In looking at it from the outside, someone who’s really never done martial arts, it probably looks to be primarily a physical activity,” Lee says. “I think anyone who’s done martial arts for any significant amount of time will tell you it’s equally a mental activity.”
In addition to providing stress release, Danz and Lee both concur that one of the benefits to be gained from martial arts is a certain humbling of one’s ego. “It’s important to get your ego checked and check yourself, and to know that you’re not always the best at everything,” Lee says. “It kind of brings you down and it humbles you, and makes you kind of look at things differently, and I think that’s a really valuable thing that can come from training in martial arts.”
• Jiu Jitsu Jurisprudence, by Ryan Danz, published October 2013. List price: $29.95.
• The Marble and the Sculptor, by Keith Robert Lee, published October 2013. List price: $24.95.
It might not be easy, but young lawyers can dig themselves out of debt, start an emergency fund and even save for retirement, financial experts tell ABA Journal reporter Stephanie Francis Ward.
ABA Journal: “Road to retirement: Ways to make retirement anything but resignation” (January 2014)
We’ve had a great year here at the Modern Law Library. One highlight was when we had the opportunity to speak to Fred Gray about his civil rights memoir and his time serving as Rosa Parks’ attorney. We also spoke with Radley Balko about the militarization of U.S. police forces. And Jill Norgren told us about some trail-blazing women lawyers from the 19th and 20th centuries.
However, our podcasts this year were all about non-fiction books. So this month, we wanted to give our readers a look at some of the legal novels which either came out in 2013, or were honored with awards in 2013. ABA Journal web producer Lee Rawles spoke with law professor and author Michael Asimow, who chose to bow out of the judges panel of our 2013 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction after his friend Paul Goldstein was selected as a finalist. (Goldstein ended up winning for his novel Havana Requiem.) An avid reader, he shared some of his personal favorites with us.
In addition to our three 2013 Harper Lee Prize finalists, Asimow recommends Michael Connelly’s The Gods of Guilt, Charles Rosenberg’s Death on a High Floor, Lawrence Friedman’s Death of a One-Sided Man and Scott Turow’s Identical. Rawles gets in her own recommendation for The Cuckoo’s Calling, written by J. K. Rowling under the alias Robert Galbraith.
What were your favorite reads this year? Tell us in the comments.
There’s a lot of tech out there to help lawyers be more efficient, but many lawyers are missing the boat. If a law practice is well-managed, technology should be putting money into the firm’s pocket, rather than taking it out.
ABA Journal reporter Stephanie Francis Ward speaks with three guests to find out how lawyers can use technology to save clients—and themselves—money.
At first glance, Joshua Safran looks to be an unlikely champion of domestic violence victims. The University of California at Berkeley Law grad became a corporate lawyer and is living the American dream with his wife and three daughters.
But in 2002, he was drawn to take on the pro bono case of Deborah Peagler, who was imprisoned two decades for setting up the murder of her abusive boyfriend. As Safran devoted hours, then years, looking for justifications to have his client released, he came to confront his own past: his early days with a wandering free spirit mother who wound up enamored with—then brutalized by—a Salvadoran militant.
In this episode of the Modern Law Library, the ABA Journal’s Molly McDonough interviews Safran about the memoir he wrote of his experiences, Free Spirit: Growing Up on the Road and Off the Grid. He shares the breakthrough moment he had with his client Deborah Peagler, in which he found himself bonding with her by sharing stories of the domestic abuse he and his mother suffered during his childhood.
Deborah Peagler’s own story and Safran’s struggle to free her are the subject of the award-winning documentary Crime After Crime.
San Francisco Chronicle: “‘Free Spirit’: A childhood of adventure, danger”
Elle Magazine: “Readers’ Prize Picks: October 2013”
Litigators usually don’t want trial surprises, but sometimes you can learn from them.
“When the surprise comes up, you can’t pack your bags and leave,” says attorney Franklyn Gimbel. “You have to carry on and go to the end of the trial.”
In this month’s podcast, ABA Journal reporter Stephanie Francis Ward interviews three veteran trial attorneys to glean what “aha” moments they’ve experienced, in both trial and pretrial work.
As part of our Paradigm Shift series, ABA Journal assistant managing editor Reginald Davis speaks with Professor Bill Henderson about his research into legal service providers, which forms the bulk of this month’s cover story, “Who’s eating law firms’ lunch?”
Recent revelations regarding covert government surveillance is causing ripples in many areas, not least of which is the legal field.
“Other attorneys–especially young ones who are aware of the history–express frustration and sometimes fear that by taking on high-profile cases or controversial cases in the eyes of the government, they may be exposing themselves to surveillance and sort of be marked in a way as lawyers who represent clients of interest,” says Heidi Boghosian, author of Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance, in her interview with editor Richard Brust.
“It seems clear that in many cases, strict government measures are taken to send a message that if you engage in representing clients who are activists–and who may be successful in the work they do, or who criticize government and corporate policies–that we might hold you out as an example of what can happen to you,” she adds.
Boghosian discusses how data gathering is being used to categorize and monitor people–not just by the government, but also by corporations. Can the law turn a blind eye to the intelligence-gathering?
Unlike fellow graduates in the Class of 2012, Katie Kizer and Amanda Graham weren’t worried about finding jobs after law school—because they had decided a year earlier that they would start their own criminal-defense firm together. It’s been liberating, they tell ABA Journal Podcast moderator Stephanie Francis Ward.
Fred D. Gray was 24 years old when he defended Rosa Parks after she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person in Montgomery, Ala. But the story you might think you know is not the full story.
“We had an understanding that at some point, the two of us were going to tell the rest of the story together,” said Gray in an interview with the ABA Journal’s podcast editor Lee Rawles. “But I realized some years before Mrs. Parks’ death that her health–both physically and mentally–was of such that she wouldn’t be able to do it. And if the story would be told, I’d have to tell it.”
Gray had written his autobiography, Bus Ride to Justice: The Life and Works of Fred Gray, in 1995. In it, he discussed Rosa Parks’ case, but left out the full details. So in 2012, after Parks had passed away, Gray started to put together a revised edition, which has now been released.
In addition to providing the back story to the Montgomery bus boycott and his work defending Martin Luther King Jr., Gray’s autobiography discusses how his case Browder v. Gayle desegregated the bus system in Montgomery; how he tried the cases which achieved school desegregation in Alabama; how he represented the victims of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study; and how he became the first African-American president of the Alabama State Bar Association. Gray was also one of the lawyers for the seminal libel case Times v. Sullivan.
You’re a newly minted lawyer and you’re off to the courthouse for your first proceedings–and you have no idea what you’re doing. What’s a newbie lawyer to do?
First off, make friends with the clerks, guests tell the ABA Journal’s Stephanie Francis Ward. And remember: Your job is often more about listening than talking.
If a potential client invites Thomas Goldstein for a meeting, he makes sure he can discuss the issues of their case–without any notes–for at least one hour. That works much better than glossy marketing materials, or focusing the discussion on this firm, says the U.S. Supreme Court lawyer and founder of SCOTUSblog. He speaks with ABA Journal reporter Stephanie Francis Ward in this month’s podcast.
Related cover story:
ABA Journal: “50 simple ways you can market your practice”