Fall 1999

A Message from the Dean

A Discourse on Constitutional Law
The Journey of a Journal
On History and Heritage: John K. Castle
In Defense and Celebration of the First Amendment

Public Service at the Forefront
Lindback Adwardee: Bruce H. Mann
Snippets of History (1915 - 1951)
Celebrations: Alumni Reunion and Commencment

Faculty Notes
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam

Penn Law

Gilbert W. Oswald C'31, L'34 passed away on May 8, 1999 at his home in Villanova.

Oswald was a partner at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, the Philadelphia firm he joined in 1935 and from which he retired in 1984.

He handled general corporate, banking and bankruptcy law, and had vast experience in appellate litigation and estate planning.

Oswald earned a B.A. and LL. B. from the University of Pennsylvania. At the Law School, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was elected to Order of the Coif He also served as Case Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

The Law School is grateful to the legacy Mr. Oswald, his family and friends have begun in establishing the Gilbert W Oswald Scholarship Fund in memory of the man and his life's work.

Leon I. Mesirov C'31, L'34 died of heart failure on May 25, 1999 at age 87.

A founding partner of Mesirov, Gelman, Jaffe, Cramer & Jamieson in Philadelphia, for decades Mesirov served as both confidante and counsel to loyal clients who placed their faith in his wise hands.

He founded the firm in 1959 with Paul Jaffe U50, served as counsel to three mayors, and was a member of the Civil Service Commission for 17 years until he stepped down in 1969.

At Penn Law, Mesirov was editor of the Law Review, and a member of the Order of the Colf. During Alumni Weekend in May, he and his daughter Joan attended the Class of 1934 luncheon at the Rittenhouse Hotel to celebrate the 65t' anniversary of his graduation from Penn Law.

Harold E. Kohn C'34, L'37 was a man who thought like few others and an attorney who envisioned the law as a tool of justice in ways that forever changed the course of modern litigation. Born in 1914 to Jewish immigrant parents, it did not take him long to begin his lifelong accomplishment of many "firsts." He graduated as the valedictorian of his class from Frankford High School outside Philadelphia. After earning a B.A. degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1934, he graduated first in the Class of 1937 from Penn Law. He was elected Phi Beta Kappa, was a member of Law Review, president and secretary of the McKean Law Club, and was elected a member of the Order of the Coif.

Kohn will always be remembered by the moniker, "the dean of the anti-trust class action bar." In the early 1960s, he made a national name for himself when he won a key case against General Electric, Westinghouse and two dozen other companies that the Department of justice had charged with illegally fixing the prices of the electrical equipment they sold. His case, brought on behalf of public utilities, was the first to go to trial and resulted in a $29 million verdict. In 1981, he won the largest verdict on record at that time - a $2 billion jury award in a class action case against the timber industry involving the price-fixing of plywood. But money wasdt the goal of his pursuits. From the onset of his career, Kohn said that he wanted "to improve people's lot where it needed improving." Frequently he differed with his colleagues on the issue of legal fees: he thought they were too high.

He was a passionate civil libertarian and often took on pro bono cases late into his career. He cared deeply about ethics and the responsibility lawyers have to their communities. Aside from his commanding intelligence, he was long guided by a passionate conviction to principles. During the Vietnam War, he filed a lawsuit seeking to have the military draft declared unconstitutional because it excluded women. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in 1981 that the exclusion of women did not violate the Fifth Amendment.

Harold E. Kohn tried cases into his seventies and pursued appeals into his eighties. He took Special Counsel status at the firm last year at the age of 84, stating that he wasn't ready to retire yet, but only slow down a bit. He created the Joseph C. Kohn Scholarship Fund at Penn Law in memory of his father to provide loans for students in the Law School. Through the Arronson Foundation, he directed numerous gifts to the Law School's clinical programs.

Kohn died at his home in Philadelphia at the age of 85. He will be missed, and he will be remembered.