If there is any better man, lawyer, appellate advocate, federal judge,
law school educator and dean than Louis H. Pollak, who died last week, I
don’t know him, and might never find him. Acclaimed nationally as
civil-rights advocate, law professor and judge, Lou made being a lawyer a
I met Pollak as a graduate student at Yale Law School in 1956. When I submitted my doctorate thesis to three Yale law professors for approval, he was one (chosen because of his civil rights reputation; if he liked it, it was good), along with Fred Rodell (the best writer about legal subjects then, and one of my favorite professors); and Richard Donnelly, who taught criminal law, my favorite subject and with whom I'd written a law review article. Candidates requested three professors to be readers for the faculty, then never discussed the subject later, as that would have been unseemly. I learned they had approved my thesis and granted me my Juris Doctorate after I had left Yale Law School and was a prosecutor trying a case in federal court in Kentucky. It was published by Columbia University Press.
Lou is said to have considered his role working as a young attorney on the historic Brown case (barring school discrimination based on race) brief as his single greatest contribution, and one cannot second-guess a man's judgment about himself. I think Lou's greatest contribution was as an educator to students, litigators and the public in a long and distinguished career, and as a shining example, a model of how fine and good a lawyer can be.