Marc Galanter


Louis Brandeis, Judaism, Jewish tradition, public interest law, private sector law


Louis D. Brandeis is the presiding eminence in the story of the encounter of Jewish with the American legal order. In the centuries since Brandeis started practicing law, Jews have flourished exceedingly in both the legal professional mainstream (practitioners, judiciaries, academics) and the public interest sector. Can this extravagant participation in both hemispheres of the world of American lawyering be explained by something unique to the Jewish tradition or experience? This Essay addresses that question by focusing on Brandeis, who manifests in his person both sides of this extraordinary flourishing. Brandeis seems a felicitous path to understanding, not because he is typical, but because he is archetypical. He has become a cultural marker, a touchstone to be emulated, praised, and claimed as an ancestor by proponents of many different legal projects. But can he be understood in terms of Jewish tradition and experience?

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