Birthday: September 1, 1938
Age: 82 Years, 82 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Alan Morton Dershowitz
Born in: Brooklyn
Famous as: Lawyer
Spouse/Ex-: Carolyn Cohen, Sue Barlach
father: Harry Dershowitz
mother: Claire Dershowitz
children: Elon Dershowitz
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: Yale Law School, Brooklyn College, Harvard Law School, Yale University
awards: 2007 - Soviet Jewry Freedom Award
2011 - Menachem Begin Award
Alan Dershowitz is one of the few lawyers, who clearly stand out of the crowd. Alan has earned the reputation of being a lawyer who ‘turned the tables completely’ in few high profile cases that he argued for. One such famous case was that of ‘Clause Von Bulow’. Most of the cases that he took up ended with successful results. Other than just sticking to his routine of appearing at courts for his various clients, Alan has also voiced his opinions about various social and political issues plaguing the world. He has penned dozens of books over the years, where he has spoken about problems such as the Israel-Palestine hostility, cruelty towards animals, and hypocrisies which have existed in the world for ages. He has even written hundreds of articles for various Newspapers such as ‘The Wall Street Journal’, ‘The New York Times Magazine’ and ‘Huffington Post’, with the content ranging from academic issues to terrorism. Alan has been often invited by many universities to address their students. Even after almost five decades of judicial service, Alan continues to lend his opinions in matters of legal concerns.
Childhood & Early Life
Alan Dershowitz was born on September 1, 1938 to Orthodox Jewish parents Harry and Claire Dershowitz. He was raised at the Borough park area of Brooklyn, New York. Alan’s father had an illustrious career. Harry was one of the directors of the ‘Etz Chaim’, a school located in the Borough Park locality, and even served as the president of the ‘Young Israel Synagogue’. Alan claims that his father inspired him to be a lawyer.
Alan completed his primary education from ‘Yershiva University High School’. During his time here, Alan was known amongst the teachers for being a notorious student. They even felt that Alan was suited for a job which involved more of speech, and less use of intelligence. He spent most of his time at Yershiva playing Basketball.
Alan moved to the ‘Brooklyn College’, and in 1959, he graduated from the institution with a Bachelor’s degree in Arts. Alan later joined the prestigious ‘Yale Law School’. During his days at Yale, Alan actively worked for the ‘Yale Law Journal’ as its editor-in-chief.
In 1962, Alan graduated from Yale with a degree in law, and was the topper of his batch.
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Alan acquired a license to practise law soon later. His first assignment was to serve as a clerk to David L Bazelon, a reputed lawyer, and the Chief Judge of the ‘U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’. Alan recalls that working with Bazelon was one of the greatest experiences of his career.
He then worked as a law clerk for Arthur Goldberg during the period 1963-64. Arthur was the ‘Associate Justice of the Supreme Court’ at the time. At around the same time, Alan joined the ‘Harvard Law School’ as an assistant professor. In a matter of just three years, he was promoted to the designation of a professor, thus becoming the youngest person in the history of the institution to achieve the feat.
Alan’s first high profile case as an independent lawyer was the one where he defended actor Harry Reems, who was convicted for distributing a pornographic movie ‘Deep Throat’, in which he had even acted. Alan argued the case with lot of conviction and the court acquitted Harry.
In the 1980s, Alan fought two sensational cases. One involving Claus Von Bulow, a British socialite, and in the other he was against Jozef Glemp, who once worked as the ‘Archbishop of Warsaw’.
The Jozef Glemp case surfaced in 1989, after the Archbishop of Warsaw accused Rabbi Avi Weiss of assaulting the nuns who belonged to a convent located near the ‘Auschwitz concentration camp’. Avi Weiss sought the help of Alan to fight the case. The latter filed a defamation case against the Archbishop. Alan cited few instances from this case in his book titled ‘Chutzpah’.
Another important case of Alan’s career was the one which involved famous footballer and actor O.J Simpson. Alan was an advisor in Simpson’s defence team, which tried its best to save Simpson, who was accused of a double-murder. The case ended in 1995 after an eight month long battle, with Simpson being acquitted by the court.
In the Claus Von Bulow case, which was re-opened in 1984, Alan argued that Claus had not murdered the lady Sunny Von Bulow, the latter’s wife. Claus, who was convicted in an earlier trial, was acquitted by the court later after Alan fought the case. This sensational case also grabbed the attention of the film industry, and eventually a film titled ‘Reversal of Fortune: Inside the von Bülow case’, based on this incident was released.
Alan has authored dozens of books, of which many were based on his experiences as a lawyer. Popular amongst these works are ‘The Best Defense’, ‘The Advocate's Devil’, and ‘The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can be Resolved’.
Awards & Achievements
Alan was awarded a ‘Guggenheim Fellowship For Social Sciences’ in 1979, in honour of his services as a lawyer.
In 1983, the Jewish service organization ‘B’nai B’rith International’, presented him the ‘William .O. Douglas First Amendment Award’ for his contribution towards civil and human rights.
The University of Harvard honoured him with the designation of ‘Frankfurter Professor of Law’, a title given as a mark of appreciation towards one’s service in the field of law.
He has also earned several honorary doctorates from various universities.
Personal Life & Legacy
Alan was first married to Sue Barlach, whom he divorced later. He then married Carolyn Cohen, a PhD holder in psychology. Alan and Carolyn have three children, and two grandchildren respectively. One of his kids is now a movie producer, another an actor, while one followed Alan’s footsteps and went on to become a lawyer for the ‘Women’s Basketball Association’.
Alan encountered a major controversy in 1990, when Mike Barnacle, a reporter of the Newspaper ‘The Boston Globe’, accused the lawyer of his affinity towards Asian women. An irked Alan sued the newspaper for defaming him. However, the newspaper ended the dispute out of court, and ended up paying Alan a compensation of $75000.
Alan is an ardent supporter of Israel and its policies. Many a times he has expressed his opinions in the political issues of Israel and Palestine through both books and news articles.
The famous newspaper ‘New York Times’ had published two cartoon strips based on Alan Dershowitz. The man also became the subject of a crossword puzzle on ‘New York Times’.