108 Law Libr. J. 686 (2016)
Keeping up with New Legal Titles

handle is hein.journals/llj108 and id is 681 raw text is: 

LAW LIBRARY JOURNAL


Trestman, Marlene. Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney
    and Supreme  Court Advocate Bessie Margolin. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
    University Press, 2016. 243p. $39.95.
                          Reviewed by Kelly Leong*
    130 Marlene Trestman's goal in authoring the biography of her mentor, Bessie
Margolin, is to rescue [her] from undeserved obscurity (p.xv), and Trestman's
beautiful account of her mentor as a skilled and singular legal advocate does just
that. Personally, I am not one for reading biographies, but Trestman does a won-
derful job of interweaving the legal history of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the
Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Equal Pay Act into the book. The book feels more
like a snapshot of a great shift in the legal world, not just for female attorneys, but
also for our views toward social welfare in the United States.
    131 Bessie Margolin was an extraordinary individual whose life as an attorney
was truly remarkable. Her life story started as an orphan of sorts (her mother died
when  she was two) in 1911. In 1913, Margolin was sent, along with her sister and
eventually her brother, to live in the Jewish Orphans' Home in New Orleans. The
Home  proved an integral part of her life and instilled in her a love of education and
advocacy for social justice issues. Through attendance at a community school and
the Jewish community's willingness to provide volunteer matrons (prominent
women  in the community to mentor young women),  Margolin was exposed to the
wealthy and well-established Jewish elite of New Orleans, and the skills she learned
in New  Orleans social circles surely assisted her ability to navigate the world of
Washington, D.C.
    132 Margolin's legal career began at Tulane University, where she was the only
woman   in her law school class. She condensed her six-year dual degree program
into five years while earning high marks, serving on law review, and graduating
second in her class. From Tulane, Margolin moved to Yale Law School, where she
was hired as a researcher-though not without concern for her gender and reli-
gion. Her performance there exceeded expectations, and when the time came to
move  on, she found support from the male colleagues and faculty at both Tulane
and Yale. Up to this point, the book recounts such an unlikely story that I was
deeply engrossed, but the story so far is just a precursor to an amazing career and
a legal record that would make anyone envious.
    133 The book then follows her distinguished career through the Tennessee
Valley Authority, the Labor Department with a brief stint working on the Nurem-
burg Trials, and unrealized hopes of a judicial appointment. Trestman does an
exceptional job of interweaving Margolin's life, including her struggles and love
affairs (usually with married men), with the federal laws that she defended and
largely shaped through her advocacy. Margolin undoubtedly shaped the Fair Labor
Standards Act and put the Equal Pay Act on a legal path that would see it grant
thousands of women  back pay and increased wages. The book makes very clear that
throughout Margolin's life her abilities, intellect, and demeanor garnered the admi-
ration and vocal support of her male counterparts and mentors, including numer-
ous federal judges and a handful of Supreme Court Justices.

    *   Kelly Leong, 2016. Reference Librarian, Hugh & Hazel Darling Law Library, UCLA School
of Law, Los Angeles, California.


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