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In Memoriam

May 09, 2012

The law school community is deeply saddened by the death of board member Judge Louis H. Pollak.  Judge Pollak was the inaugural chair of the law school’s board serving on the board from its inception up until the time of his passing.  

Judge Pollak was born in New York City in 1922 and is a graduate of Harvard College (1943) and Yale Law School (1948). From 1948 to 1949, Pollak clerked for Justice Wiley B. Rutledge of the United States Supreme Court. Pollak also served as an associate at the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; was a State department lawyer, principally assigned as special assistant to Ambassador-at-Large Philip C. Jessup; and Assistant Counsel of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers.

Pollak made a significant impact on U.S. constitutional jurisprudence having provided counsel to the NAACP, the entity that represented the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education. At that time, Pollak worked under the direction of Thurgood Marshall, then lead attorney for NAACP in Brown and, later, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice. By the time the NAACP submitted its brief in Brown, Pollak had moved on to the U.S. State department. However, even as an attorney for the State department, he remained involved in the case, making requested revisions to the Brown brief.

In 1955, Judge Pollak was appointed to the Yale Law School faculty, where he remained until 1974, serving as Dean from 1965 to 1970. From 1974 to 1978, Pollak was a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, serving as Dean from 1975 to 1978. In 1978, he was appointed to his most recent position as Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. On becoming a judge, he retired from the full-time Penn faculty, but in recent years, taught a seminar at Penn as an adjunct member of the faculty.

The school recently presented Judge Pollak with its Diversity Award, recognizing his enormous contribution to both the school and diversity in the law.

Judge Pollak is survived by his wife, five daughters, six granddaughters and two grandsons.