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In May 1978 I became the Administrator (really the Director of Administration and Finance, but titles were not a big thing to me then) of the Washington, D.C., law firm of Fried, Frank. Harris, Shriver & Kampelman. (The name of the main New York office was Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.) I remained with the firm until May 1984. By this time Max Kampelman] had left the firm to become the lead US arms negotiator. Why did a New York firm create an office in Washington? Through events unknown to me, the New York firm had begun to represent Indian tribes. The powers that were decided that in order to well represent them a Washington office would be needed. So, in 1949 the office was established with a partner sent down from New York (His last name was Cohen. He had long left the firm when I arrived.) and two brand new associate attorneys just graduated and hired, Arthur Lazarus and Richard Schifter (Dick Schifter left the firm shortly after Max and went into the Department of State. In what role I do not know.) As Bob Baker mentioned, Max was the right hand man for Hubert Humphrey when he was the mayor of Minneapolis. When Humphrey was elected Senator Max came with him as his Chief of Staff. I don’t know when Max left Humphrey and joined the firm, but when I arrived he was definitely the “Senior Partner”, Arthur Lazarus was the Managing Partner. I use the term “Senior Partner” advisedly because one day I used it in explaining to Harvey Pitt (later and for a relatively short time, the SEC Commissioner) why he couldn’t have a bigger office with a view of the Potomac (The firm was in one of the Watergate buildings) he exploded all over me by saying there were neither “Senior” nor “Junior” partners, they were all equal. But as George Orwell wrote in “Animal Farm”, some are more equal than others.

After Max’s arrival the firm expanded into other areas of law, undoubtedly under his propulsion. Corporate, Government Procurement, Real Estate, Litigation. This had happened before my arrival. Mergers and Acquisitions was added after the arrival of Harvey Pitt (He had been the General Counsel of the SEC.). To illustrate the idea that some are more equal than others, I cite our weekly partner luncheons catered by the Watergate Hotel restaurant. At the head of the long rectangular table Arthur Lazarus and Max sat side by side. I sat on Lazarus’s right. These were the only reserved seats. The other partners arrived and took any available seat, even Sarge Shriver.

The two big money makers for the Washington office were Max and Joel Feidelman, Government Procurement. I don’t any longer remember who was the top money maker. (I must add that Arthur Lazarus after about twenty years of work in court and in Congress finally won a $110 million award to compensate the Black Hills Sioux for their land, of which 10% went to the firm. Some years afterwards Lazarus’s son wrote a book about the case.) In any case, everyone accepted Max as the leading partner in the Washington office. When problems couldn’t be resolved among the partners and the managing partner couldn’t resolve them, Max did. He was in this environment everything Bob Baker describes and even more. I never saw or heard him “lose his cool”. A person to whom it was easy to talk, with whom it was easy to discuss. A person who had no “airs”, who could easily talk to anyone, who never showed off his authority. A gentleman the likes of which we don’t breed any longer.

With regards to Bob’s closing remarks, there was a rumor that Max had or was having an affair with a former Miss America, Bess Myerson. Could she have been the “daughter”?

Warm regards,

imageBenjamin L. Landis, Colonel, US Army (ret.) is the author of “The Governance of Law Firms: The Business of Practicing Law” and “Searching for Stability: The World in the Twenty-first Century”. His previous articles for American Diplomacy have discussed the war in Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, State Department reorganization, national defense, etc.

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