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Fair Labor Lawyer by Marlene Trestman

With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, and the Supreme Court Historical Society, Marlene Trestman wrote Fair Labor Lawyer for a general audience to recount Bessie Margolin’s fascinating and improbable journey from her childhood in New Orleans’s Jewish orphanage to her 24 arguments at the Supreme Court where she protected the wage and hour rights of millions of American workers. Along the way, she earned law degrees from Tulane and Yale, defended the constitutionality of the New Deal’s Tennessee Valley Authority, drafted the rules that established the American Military Tribunals for Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg, and became the nation’s top enforcer of the Equal Pay Act. If that were not enough to make Margolin interesting, she was beautiful, single and enjoyed clandestine romances with high profile (and married) Washington, D.C. lawyers, subjecting her to Congressional and FBI scrutiny. Because much of Margolin’s appellate experience was in the Fifth Federal Circuit (defending the TVA and enforcing the Fair Labor Standards Act on behalf of the Labor Department), her life offers much for BAFFC’s members.