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Victor Rabinowitz (July 2, 1911 – November 16, 2007) was a 20th-Century American lawyer known for representing high-profile dissidents and causes.[1][2]



Rabinowitz was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Rose (née Netter) and Louis M. Rabinowitz, a factory owner who had emigrated from Lithuania. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in 1931 and University of Michigan Law School with a JD in 1934.[1]


Rabinowitz, BoudinEdit

Rabinowitz started his career in the firm of Louis B. Boudin, a labor lawyer, active in "radical politics."

He formed a new firm with Boudin's nephew Leonard Boudin: Rabinowitz and Boudin, currently Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, in New York City.[1][2][3] Rabinowitz and Boudin were the senior partners, joined by Michael Standard, Michael Krinsky, and Eric Lieberman.[4] (Krinsky and Lieberman remain senior attorneys to the present.[5]) The firm's papers, held by the Tamiment Library of New York University, describes it as follows:

The firm represented numerous labor unions, most notably the American Communications Association, and assisted clients in passport cases, loss of employment and other legal matters arising from the targeting of individuals in government security investigations. The firm has been deeply involved in civil rights work and, during the Vietnam War, successfully defended, on First Amendment grounds, some of the leading opponents of the war, as well as draft resisters and conscientious objectors.[4]

Clients have included: Julian Bond, Paul Robeson, Alger Hiss, Benjamin Spock, Daniel Ellsberg, Dashiell Hammett, the Church of Scientology, and Jimmy Hoffa. It has also represented the government of Chile under Salvador Allende, and the Cuban government since June 1960 and has been Cuba's only U.S. legal counsel in all U.S.-related matters.[1] Other clients included: Rockwell Kent, other unions, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and other non-union organizations.[4]

Rabinowitz's client Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, shown here (center) in 1913 photo with Paterson silk strike leaders Patrick Quinlan and Carlo Tresca left and Adolph Lessig and Bill Haywood right

In 1951, Rabinowitz joined more than half a dozen other lawyers in defending 17 Communist Party members, including Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. The communists were accused of charged conspiring to "teach and advocate violent overthrow" of the government. The other lawyers were: Abraham L. Pomerantz, Carol Weiss King, Michael Begun, Harold I. Cammer, Mary Kaufman, Leonard Boudin, and Abraham Unger. Later, they were relieved by O. John Rogge, gangster Frank Costello's lawyer George Wolf, William W. Kleinman, Joseph L. Delaney, Frank Serri, Osmond K. Fraenkel, Henry G. Singer, Abraham J. Gellinoff, Raphael P. Koenig, and Nicholas Atlas.[6]

Rabinowitz argued many cases before the United States Supreme Court.[1]

In 1963, when daughter Joni Rabinowitz was convicted of perjury regarding work for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he won her release on the grounds that the jury under-represented a local black population.[1]

In 1984, he played an "important role in anchoring the defense" when Kathy Boudin, Weather Underground member and Leonard Boudin's daughter, pled guilty to murder as part of armored truck robbery.[1]


In 1937, Rabinowitz helped found the National Lawyers Guild in 1937 and served as its national president (1967–1970).

From 1942 until the early 1960s, he was a member of the American Communist Party (CPUSA).[1]

During the 1940s, he was active in the American Labor Party (ALP) and ran for office on their ticket.[2]

Personal life and deathEdit

Rabinowitz was married twice, first to the former Marcia Goldberg of Brooklyn, New York, and following their divorce in 1967, he married filmmaker, journalist and author Joanne Grant Rabinowitz (1930–2005).

He died at his Manhattan home on November 16, 2007.[1]


Rabinowitz was a prominent figure in the civil rights and liberties eras.[1]

He chaired the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation for his father.[7] A 1967 file from the Federal Bureau of Investigation showed that it supported Civil Rights leader Floyd McKissick.[8]


  • Unrepentant Leftist (1996)[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Martin, Douglas (20 Nov 2007). "Victor Rabinowitz, 96, Leftist Lawyer, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Guide to the Victor Rabinowitz Papers TAM 123". New York University. 16 April 2018. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  3. ^ "About the Firm". Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, P.C. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Guide to the Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman Legal Files TAM.287". New York University. April 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Attorneys". Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, P.C. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Judge Relieves Defense Aides In Red Trial". Washington Post. 9 August 1951. p. 2.
  7. ^ Rabinowitz, Victor (1996). Unrepentant Leftist: A Lawyer's Memoir. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. p. 164. ISBN 9780252022531. OCLC 33983918.
  8. ^ Anderson, Jack (August 14, 1972). "Merry-Go-Round". Moberly Monitor-Index. Moberly, Missouri. p. 3. Retrieved September 1, 2016 – via (Registration required (help)). The FBI file on black leader Floyd McKissick reveals that, in 1967, he "received Check Number 2665 made out in his name and drawn against the account of the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation, Incorporated, in the amount of $2500." Cite uses deprecated parameter |registration= (help)
  9. ^ Rabinowitz, Victor (1996). Unrepentant Leftist: A Lawyer's Memoir. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02253-1.

Further readingEdit