Guest professor gives insight to life of Supreme Court Justice Brandeis

Published: February 7th, 2011

Category: News

Professor Melvin Urofsky presented “The Five Lives of Louis Brandeis” to students, faculty and community members Wednesday, Feb. 2.

Urofsky, author of “Louis D. Brandeis: A Life,” provided insights and anecdotes of the many phases of Supreme Court Justice Brandeis’ long career. Brandeis helped invent the modern law firm, moving the field to a more specialized profession and introduced the idea of pro bono legal practice. Brandeis was a linchpin of reform with his involvement in creating the Federal Reserve Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act and the Federal Trade Commission.

Urofsky’s book is the “best biography of one of the greatest justices and, more importantly, one of the greatest lawyers and citizens in the history of the U.S.,” UF Law Professor Michael Allan Wolf said.

While researching Brandeis’ four public careers — lawyer, reformer, Zionist, and judge — proved easy, Urofsky said “getting at Brandeis the person was the hardest part of this book.” Brandeis had four very public careers and a very private life.

While introducing Urofsky, Wolf credited his good fortune with the opportunity to meet Urofsky in the late 1980s while the two worked in Virginia. Urofsky is the “kind of scholar and person who brings people within the zone of his influence and gets people to do things they were not intending on doing,” Wolf said. “And they are happy about it.”

Urofsky is currently a professor of law and public policy and a professor emeritus of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and was chair of the history department.