Marlene Trestman


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Marlene Trestman is the author of Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin  (LSU Press).

​With exhaustive research and engaging prose -- uniquely informed by the intersecting lives of author and subject -- Trestman's Fair Labor Lawyer recounts Margolin's thrilling and inspirational 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. An elegant and tireless champion of wage and hour rights for American workers, Margolin opened doors for women, one courtroom at a time.

Fair Labor Lawyer is also available from the United States Supreme Court gift shop, thanks to the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Marlene Trestman delivers the U.S. Labor Department's 2013 Donald S. Shire Lecture about Bessie Margolin, former Associate Solicitor of Labor. 

Lawyer-turned-author Trestman won early recognition for her work on Margolin 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 the year's best article. In 2013 she published an article detailing the Supreme Court arguments of Margolin and other pioneering female advocates, followed by her work, "The First 101 Women To Argue at the United States Supreme Court," identifying Margolin as the 25th.

Prompted by her research on Margolin's early life and by her own childhood in New Orleans as a Jewish orphan, Trestman is currently working on her second book, The History of New Orleans Jewish Orphans Home, 1855-1946. To support her research, the American Jewish Archives awarded Trestman the 2015-2016 Frankel Family Fellowship. She presented portions of her work at the 2015 Southern Jewish Historical Society (SJHS) Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, and at the SJHS's 41st Annual Conference in Natchez, Mississippi on November 5, 2016. Trestman presented a third facet of her research about the Jewish Orphans Home of New Orleans at the Southern Jewish Historical Society's Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio during the weekend of November 4-5, 2017.

​​Author Photo by Harry Connolly