In his latest sharp-witted work, the world’s perhaps best-known Jewish lawyer profiles the man he considers to the first-ever Jewish lawyer: the biblical patriarch Abraham.
Retired Harvard Law School professor Alan M. Dershowitz, who has been called “the nation’s most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer” and one of its “most distinguished defenders of individual rights,” says he has been working on the book for essentially 70 of his 79 years.
“Abraham is the only biblical character that starts his career arguing with God,” the attorney and Israel advocate explains, referring to Abraham’s protest against God’s planned destruction of the town of Sodom. In this narrative, Abraham convinces God not to “sweep away the righteous with the wicked.”
“What could be more appropriate for a criminal lawyer? … I have taught about him and thought about him, and finally, at the age of 77, decided to write about him — since that was about the age that Abraham was when some of these adventures took place,” says Dershowitz.
The book also profiles some of the leading Jewish attorneys since Abraham, including Louis Brandeis, Theodor Herzl, Rene Cassin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Irwin Cotler. It highlights Dershowitz’s understanding of why Jews are so prominent in the legal field — “We’ve had a lot of practice, as a people, in defending ourselves, but also defending others,” he says — and candidly elucidates the author’s four decades as a practicing lawyer.