Fair Labor Lawyer:
The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate
Bessie Margolin

by Marlene Trestman

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Associate Solicitor of Labor Bessie Margolin climbs Supreme Court steps in mid-1950's. (Dep't of Labor photo)

Listen to Chief Justice Earl Warren praise Margolin at her 1972 retirement dinner.

Recording of "Bessie Margolin Farewell Dinner" (Jan. 28, 1972), Laurence H. Silberman Papers, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University.

Welcome to the website for Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin, the forthcoming first biography of Margolin, to be published in Spring 2016 by Louisiana State University Press, Southern Biography Series.

Marlene Trestman's Fair Labor Lawyer recounts Margolin's journey from New Orleans Jewish Orphans' Home through the New Deal to the nation's highest courts, where she shepherded the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. As she championed wage and hour rights of American workers, she proved equality for women by changing the complexion of the law.   Fair Labor Lawyer explores 20th century American themes of  immigration and assimilation, the growth of government, and the pursuit of gender equality in the workplace. 

Lawyer-turned-author Trestman won early recognition with prestigious research grants from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

A portion of Trestman's research was published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Supreme Court History, for which she was awarded the Journal's Hughes-Gossett Award for best article of 2012.  In 2013 she published an article detailing the Supreme Court arguments of Margolin and other pioneering female advocates, Mabel Walker Willbrandt, Bea Rosenberg and Helen Carloss. In October 2014, Trestman published The First 101 Women To Argue at the Supreme Court, identifying Margolin as the 25th.

As part of the U.S. Department of Labor's Centennial Events, in June 2013, Trestman presented the U.S. Department of Labor's Donald S. Shire Lecture, named for one of Margolin's distinguished proteges. 
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