Several in Jewish Community Will Be Inducted into First Tulane Law Hall

On March 22, the Tulane Law School will induct its first class in the new Law School Hall of Fame. Of the 12 inductees, several are or were members of the Jewish community.

The Hall will be inaugurated at the Alumni Luncheon, March 22 at 11:30 a.m. at the Westin.
Among the inductees are:

Marian Mayer Berkett:
As a student, Berkett edited the Gumbo, LSU’s yearbook, in 1933. Picking up on the Indian mound on campus, she used that as a theme throughout the book, including one of the symbols the tribes used — an inverted swastika. When the book was mostly done, Hitler came to power, but she decided not to replace the symbol in the book, since it was used by so many cultures world-wide.

Ironically, she had wanted to attend Radcliffe, but to go there one had to know German, and at that point it was the last language she wanted to learn.

She left LSU’s law school and enrolled at Tulane because her vocal opposition to Huey P. Long brought surveillance and hostility.

After graduating first in her class at Tulane in 1937, Berkett was hired as an associate by the leading New Orleans law firm of Deutsch & Kerrigan (now Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles), becoming the first woman ever hired by a law firm in the state. She continued her activism and co-founded the People’s League, which worked to expose and uproot corruption in New Orleans government.

Now 100, this May she will be the graduation speaker for the Tulane Law School.

Russ M. Herman:
Herman was founding partner of Herman, Herman & Katz and lead counsel in many high-profile class action cases.

He was a lead negotiator for plaintiffs in the $368 billion proposed settlement with the tobacco industry and was on the private counsel team that recovered $4.6 billion for Louisiana through its attorney general. He specializes in product liability, environmental, anti trust and Civil RICO defense work.

Herman has served as president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the Civil Justice Foundation and the Roscoe Pound Foundation. In 2001 he was selected for The Leonard M. Ring Champion of Justice Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by ATLA, and also has received the ATLA Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2010 he was admitted to the Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame, with such figures as President John Adams, Clarence Darrow, Fred Levin and Morris Dees.

Bessie Margolin:
Margolin spent much of her childhood at the Jewish Children’s Home in New Orleans after her mother died. After earning her law degree she started working with the Tennessee Valley Authority, then joined the Department of Labor in 1939.

She eventually became Assistant Solicitor in charge of Supreme Court appellate litigation, arguing 27 cases before the Supreme Court and winning 25.

After World War II, she was temporarily at the War Department, drafting the original regulations for the Nuremberg war crimes trials. She retired from the Department of Labor in 1972 and died in 1996.

Marlene Trestman is currently writing a biography of Margolin.

Max Nathan:

Nathan, a founding partner of Session, Fishman, Nathan and Israel, was president of the Louisiana Law Institute from 1998 through 2001, and is now the chairman.

Noted for expertise in estate planning and successions, Nathan is very active with the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana, serving as president in the 1980s and being honored with its Tzedakah Award in 2006. He oversaw the creation of the New Americans Holocaust Memorial Fund and the annual Tzedakah Award program.

He also has served as president of Jewish Family Service and the New Orleans Estate Planning Council, and chairman of the local Anti-Defamation League, and was founder of the New Orleans Mental Health Association.

He has also taught at Tulane Law School for 44 years.

Jacques L. Wiener, Jr.:
Wiener received his law degree in 1961 and worked in private practice in Shreveport until 1990. In November 1989, President George H.W. Bush nominated him to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. He was unanimously confirmed in March 1990 and served until 2010, assuming senior status.

Weiner is past president of the North Louisiana Jewish Federation. In 2011 he and his family established the first endowed fund for legal excellence at the Tulane University Law School.

Also being inducted is John Minor Wisdom, who was the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge who played a pivotal role in enforcing the civil rights of racial minorities.

Wisdom’s grandfather, David Labatt, was from one of the oldest Jewish families in the South, according to Wisdom biographer Joel Friedman. Labatt married an Episcopalian, and by the time Wisdom came along, he and his brothers were not exposed to their Jewish heritage. Friedman said he never looked to hide it, but “rarely discussed it simply because it was a matter of no interest or consequence to him.”

Also being inducted are Hale Boggs, 13-term Congressman who served as majority whip and majority leader; John J. Hainkel, Jr., first person to serve as both speaker of the house and president of the Senate in a state legislature; Joseph Merrick Jones, founder of the law firm now known as Jones Walker and former president of Tulane’s board of administrators; Wayne J. Lee, leading New Orleans lawyer who helped diversify the legal profession; Ferdinand Stone, member of Law School’s faculty for 41 years before retiring as W.R. Irby Chair, and John Giffen Weinmann, former U.S. ambassador to Finland and chief of protocol in the White House.