What was your early life like?
I was born in 1920 and grew up as a single child in the Bronx. My parents were Jewish immigrants from Romania and they enrolled me in the Jewish parochial schools, where I learned Hebrew and the Jewish Old Testament. My father had come to America without a formal education. He learned to become a butcher and opened up a butcher shop. After acclimating himself, with the advice of friends he then opened up a lady’s millinery shop in the Bronx. The Depression obviously hurt our family, but my parents were determined that I obtain a Jewish education, and I believe my mother harbored some thoughts that I might grow up to become a rabbi. My own ambition was to become a lawyer.
My father died in 1937 after a second heart attack. This added to the already existing economic strains on our family. My mother kept going with the millinery business as long as she could.
Where did you go to college?
New York University had a campus in the Bronx that was near my home, and I enrolled there. In order to cover my tuition costs, in addition to a partial scholarship, I took on every part-time job I could get: I worked in the college bookstore as a clerk, I checked coats at the weekend campus dances, I sold subscriptions to the New York Times, and would use the summers to work at restaurants and resorts. During one summer I worked in a steel factory and in a garment factory. My mother, whose income was undoubtedly small, made certain that I received my education and I did graduate from college with a solid academic record.
When did you decide you wanted to be a lawyer?
As a youngster I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and I did my college course work with that goal in mind. One of my relatives became the first woman judge in New York, and I had another cousin whom I admired who also became a lawyer. It was, however, necessary that I enroll in night law school and find employment during the day. With the help of a college faculty member, I was introduced to the head of the Knit Goods Workers Union, an affiliate of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, who suggested that I begin working in the garment factory and join his local union. I did. My evening law school classes began at 6 p.m. every day and I was able to combine the two. Shortly thereafter the union asked me to leave the factory and join their staff, which I was pleased to do. My evening law school schedule, incidentally, had my classes ending at 9, at which time I could spend a couple of hours in the NYU Law School library.
My major assignment on the union staff was to help the union attorney demonstrate that those women who were “home workers”—because they were given sewing assignments which paid them by the piece instead of by the hour—were laboring under a formula that produced much less than the legal minimum wage requirement. I testified to that effect at the hearing in Washington requested by the union. Steps were taken by the government to end that home work practice.
After a year to 15 months doing this work, one of my law school professors suggested I clerk for a law firm and that he could make that arrangement. I agreed and became a clerk for the law firm Phillips, Nizer, Benjamin & Krim. One of my assignments at the law firm was to work closely with the head of the firm, Louis Nizer, who was considered to be an eloquent speaker and one of the most successful lawyers in New York. The firm specialized in clients who were in the motion picture and entertainment industry. My job also included appearing in court most every morning in order to file motion papers on behalf of the firm. I usually made a point of remaining to hear the oral argument in front of the judge. Indeed, on one occasion the firm lawyer who was scheduled to argue the motion was late, and I took the liberty of standing up and making the argument based on my reading of the documents. I confess that I did not tell the judge that I was not yet a lawyer. That was my first argument in a courtroom.
Your time in law school coincided with the outbreak of World War
II. When war was declared, did you join the military?
No, during my college days I became a pacifist. The rabbi who advised Jewish students at NYU, whom I got to know quite well, was a pacifist, and my discussions with him led me to read extensively in the literature of pacifism. I also had the occasion one summer, as the result of a scholarship, to join a Quaker work camp recommended to me by one of my professors. My college reading included the works of Gandhi, Tolstoy, Albert Schweitzer, and A. J. Muste. I also read Evan Thomas, Norman Thomas’s brother. I was impressed with the Quakers I worked with and their philosophy of nonviolent resistance to evil. As I look back on that period, I believe I was also greatly influenced by my mother, whose only brother was killed in the First World War and who insisted that I never wear a uniform or join the Boy Scouts because it reminded her of her brother. In any event, in college I absorbed the philosophy of nonviolent resistance to evil: that it was wrong to slaughter one another and that war was the enemy of the human race.
With the beginning of our country’s entry into the war, conscription required all young men above the age of 17 or 18 to register for service. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we were brought into the war. When I registered, I did so as a conscientious objector under section 4(e) of the legislation which permitted alternative “work of national importance under civilian direction” for those able to demonstrate to their draft board that they were pacifist by virtue of religious training and belief. My draft board, without any difficulty, granted me this and I was sent to a work camp under the supervision of the American Friends Committee, a Quaker organization that had been assigned by the Defense Department to administer a number of the programs and projects to which conscientious objectors would be sent. My first assignment was to a forest and soil conservation camp in upstate New York that involved forest clearing for new growth and related soil conservation activities. It was an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp. I was conscripted at the conclusion of my third year at night law school, which was a four-year program.
After quite a few months working at the camp, a notice was distributed among us soliciting volunteers to serve as nurses at a school in Maine for mentally handicapped children. I volunteered and was assigned to work in the hospital of that institution—a searing experience. The children assigned to me were unable to perform basic motor functions such as walking, talking, and eating. It was my job to help care for those children, and I learned to do so with as much love and empathy as I could muster.
The following spring the hospital director asked me to work at the institution’s farm where they grew their food. These farm chores were all new to me, but I learned to master those chores and to work on the farm tending livestock and driving a tractor. The experience also brought me quite close to the older patients who were assigned to work on the farm, and most of them had been there for many years. I learned a great deal.
Some months later another notice was distributed, this one seeking volunteers to participate as human guinea pigs in a starvation experiment. I applied, and after a physical examination I was accepted—one of about 40 volunteers who were selected. I relocated to Minneapolis, where the experiment was to take place at the University of Minnesota. The experiment, financed by the Department of Defense, was created by and headed by Dr. Ancel Keys, a member of the university’s medical faculty who also originated the so-called K rations, which were used by our armed forces. It was explained to us that the experiment was to bring us to a near-starvation condition and then bring us back to health in an attempt to discover the best methods for recuperation from starvation. The program was anticipating the release of prisoners toward the end of the war and the release of concentration camp victims—a challenge they knew we would face.
The program was scheduled to last for a year. It was to begin with an effort to bring us all down to a common physical condition by requiring us to eat and drink only what was given to us. We also had a very strong physical training program that was to last for the full year. The purpose of that first step was to bring us to an even keel. We then engaged in six months of actual semi-starvation at the same time we were going through physical training and daily medical examinations. In my case I went from about 160 pounds to slightly more than 100 pounds by the end of the six-month semi-starvation period. The walking and exercise regime was difficult but welcome.
During the last three months we were taken off the semi-starvation diet and were divided into groups with differing programs of rehabilitation. The object was to scientifically determine the best method for rehabilitation. The doctors and research assistants kept us fully informed of what they were doing, which played an important role in keeping us motivated. It was inspiring when we were informed that as the scientific results were developing they were being used overseas.
The war ended as our experiment came to an end. I had chosen to make sufficient time when I was at the university to attend classes. In fact, I had taken enough class work at the University of Minnesota Law School to satisfy NYU Law School that I had completed my fourth year of study. NYU therefore awarded me the degree I needed to become a lawyer. Before being drafted I had taken the New York bar examination because the New York Court of Appeals had decided that students could take the bar examination prior to receiving their degree, but they could not be admitted to the bar before satisfying their degree requirements. I was therefore able to satisfy that requirement by taking the courses at the University of Minnesota.
You went to class while you were starving?
Wasn’t that incredibly difficult?
Well, it wasn’t easy. Our rations were very, very small. And it’s tough, it’s a strain, when day after day all you’re given is a tiny little spoonful of food. I know from that experience that hunger can dominate your consciousness. Food is what you think about. In that sense, the courses at the law school helped. Once the experiment was completed, Dr. Keys put out two lengthy volumes that described his conclusions. Without mentioning any names, he indicated that there was one subject who showed the least psychological effect. That was me. I think the reason I didn’t manifest some of the negative psychological traits that were common among the other subjects was because I was taking courses at the law school. My mind was absorbed in thinking about things other than only food.
At the end of the war, when the concentration camps were liberated and the POWs were released, the study took on an obvious significance. It was satisfying to us, the participants, to know that the results were used to help concentration camp victims, prisoners of war, and refugees. Because of the study, the doctors had a better idea of what kinds of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients were essential to assist people who had experienced severe food deprivation. The doctors were also better able to deal with the psychological effects of near-starvation.
Did you go back to New York after the war was over?
At the end of the experiment and my discharge from selected service, I had planned to return to Louis Nizer’s law firm, who had assured me that they would like me to return. Unexpectedly, the chairman of the university’s political science department, where I had also taken course work, invited me to remain at the university as an instructor of political science, with the understanding that I would write a doctoral dissertation and qualify myself for a Ph.D. degree. This appealed to me, and I told Mr. Nizer, who assured me that there would be a position for me if I later decided to take advantage of it.
Was it during this period that you first encountered Hubert Humphrey?
Yes. Humphrey was elected mayor of Minneapolis in 1946. He was close to the university and knew all of the professors in the department of political science. I liked him immensely. He was energetic and idealistic, and exciting to be with. Occasionally, I was able to be of assistance to him and by helping out I got to know him and his staff pretty well.
Did you work in his campaign when he ran for the U.S. Senate?
No, I didn’t. He was elected in November 1948. In September I had left Minnesota to take a very attractive job teaching political science at Bennington College in Vermont. That November Humphrey was elected to the Senate, and in December I received a call from him. He wanted help putting his Washington staff together. I came down to help with that. I thought I’d be in Washington for a week or two, but ended up accepting a job as Humphrey’s legislative counsel, which occupied me for the next six years.
As I said, I liked Humphrey a lot. I liked him as a friend, I agreed with him politically, and I found his positive energy to be contagious. Even at that early stage in his career I saw that he had great potential. He was intelligent and ambitious, and I thought that one day he might make an outstanding president. But after six years as a senate staffer I decided it was time for me to get on with my own career. On the night Humphrey won reelection in 1954, I told him I would be leaving the staff. He asked, “Well, what are you going to do?” I said, “Frankly, Hubert, I’m so darn busy I haven’t decided whether I’m going to go back to academia and be a professor or open my own law office.”
What made you decide on the practice of law?
My wife and I talked it over at great length. We both liked Washington and wanted to stay here. I also knew that by staying close to the Hill I could be of occasional assistance to Humphrey. I thought that someday I could possibly play a role in helping him become president. So, for a combination of reasons, I decided to practice law in Washington, but I agreed to remain with Humphrey for a few months to find a replacement for myself and plan for my personal next step.
My original thought was to enlist the Nizer law firm in New York and some Minneapolis law firms I knew to agree to utilize me as their Washington office. I rented a small office at 1700 K Street. During this period my friend, the noted lawyer and philosopher Felix Cohen, died. Arthur Lazarus and Richard Schifter, who had worked with Felix as the Washington office of the New York firm of Strasser, Spiegelberg, Fried & Frank, urged me to join them as part of that New York firm’s Washington office. Arthur and Dick, whom I knew well and admired greatly, inherited Felix’s clients, which included a number of Indian tribes. I accepted the offer because of Arthur and Dick, and we moved into the space I had rented.
I didn’t have a particular area of specialization, although I made a firm decision not to engage in lobbying work. I recognize and appreciate the validity of that specialty, but I did not want to be in the position of exploiting my friendship with Humphrey and the other senators I had met, and I did not feel that it was the type of law that suited me. I was more of generalist and took on a variety of matters, almost all of them involving business of one sort or another: mergers and acquisitions, tax issues, compliance with government regulations. We were always busy, and I found it very exciting to be able to build a Washington law practice from the bottom up. One of my first clients was a lady seeking a divorce from her husband, a wealthy, spoiled young man.
During this time did you remain close to Humphrey?
Yes, I was his personal lawyer and close friend. We were together at the 1952 Democratic convention, and I also attended the 1956 Democratic convention with him. He had received strong signals from Adlai Stevenson, who ran against Eisenhower that year, that Stevenson wanted Humphrey to be his running mate. Instead Stevenson threw the vice presidential nomination to the convention delegates, which was disappointing to Humphrey because he felt he had been promised the nomination. But Humphrey didn’t sulk. That wasn’t his nature. He campaigned enthusiastically for Stevenson in 1956, then ran on his own in 1960.
Humphrey didn’t fully appreciate it, but he was a long-shot candidate in 1960. Jack Kennedy was also gunning for the nomination, and Kennedy had a lot more money and organization. Ultimately, Humphrey didn’t have the money to compete, and Kennedy swept through the primaries on his way to the nomination. The primaries in Wisconsin and West Virginia were bitter defeats, but they also provided an important learning process, giving Humphrey and his team firsthand experience with presidential politics.
After Kennedy was elected, you hadn’t given up hope that Humphrey
would become president?
No, Humphrey was still a reasonably young man, although his prospects did appear somewhat constrained. If you assumed that Kennedy would be reelected and serve eight years, you knew the next opportunity—if there was one—would not come around for a long time.
Then, of course, the assassination of President Kennedy changed everything. That was a traumatic event. Tragic and awful. I remember that on the day of the funeral I was invited to dinner at the Humphrey home. After we had finished eating, Humphrey told me that President Johnson wanted me to join his White House staff as counsel to the president. I didn’t want to do that. Johnson had a reputation for being hard on his staff. I got along well with Johnson, but I knew he chewed people up. Also, it was no secret that Humphrey was on the short list of potential vice presidential candidates. I didn’t feel I could be an advocate for Humphrey from inside the White House.
So you stayed in private practice?
Right, I stayed at the law firm, which was rewarding and gratifying. I enjoyed the representation of clients. I also went to work lining up support for Humphrey as the 1964 vice presidential nominee, reaching out to labor leaders and congressional Democrats. Ultimately, we all knew that the choice resided with Lyndon Johnson, but it was no surprise to me when President Johnson asked Humphrey to be his running mate at the 1964 Democratic convention in Atlantic City.
Then, four years later, Humphrey became the Democratic nominee after
Johnson withdrew and chose not to pursue a second full term.
Yes, Humphrey ran against Richard Nixon in 1968. In many ways that was a terrible, terrible year. Martin Luther King was assassinated in April, then Robert Kennedy was killed two months later. President Johnson had made a commitment to continuing the war in Vietnam, and Vietnam was a very divisive issue. There were antiwar protests and demonstrations taking place almost every day. In that poisonous political environment it was very difficult to conduct a presidential campaign. The Secret Service told me they had received threats to kill Humphrey, and I remember at the Democratic convention there was a reported plot to kidnap Mrs. Humphrey.
What were your personal views on the Vietnam War?
I supported President Johnson, who decided to follow what Kennedy began. I have no knowledge whether he was doing it properly from a military point of view, but I felt then—and I feel today—that our country cannot live in isolation, that we’ve got to protect ourselves and our friends from threats from other parts of the world.
How did your views evolve from being a pacifist during World War
II to supporting the war in Vietnam?
I was highly influenced by the Quakers and the philosophy of nonviolent resistance. But after we dropped the atomic bombs on Japan, it seemed to me that the fundamental logic of nonviolent resistance had disappeared. Gandhi appealed to the British soldier, to another human being, and in doing so he set an example for other human beings. But the person who pushes the button for the bomb never sees another human being. There’s no human contact whatsoever. Once we entered the atomic age, we were in a totally different world. We have to resist evil. We ought to use violence as a last resort and try all the nonviolent means we have, but we should not be blind to the fact that there is evil in the world, which must be resisted.
Were you involved in Humphrey’s 1968 campaign?
Yes. I worked very hard preparing for the 1968 convention. I wasn’t involved in the delegate hunt. We had some good political people doing the politicking. As the convention approached, we were reasonably confident that Humphrey would be the nominee.
Four years earlier he was put through a very rigorous vetting prior to becoming President Johnson’s running mate, and he wanted me to vet potential vice presidential candidates to make sure there weren’t any skeletons in the closet. I spent a great deal of time doing background checks and investigating the candidates Humphrey was considering. Of course, he did win the nomination and selected Edmund Muskie as his running mate, which proved to be an excellent choice.
Did you attend the convention?
Yes. Even though we won the nomination, that was an unpleasant time. Thousands of antiwar demonstrators descended on Chicago, and on the day of the nomination there was a terrible riot in front of the hotels where the candidates were staying. You could see the anger and the hate. Young people were chanting obscenities, throwing rocks, fighting with the police. The TV networks devoted more time to the riot than they did to the nomination. To sit there and watch that was an awful experience, especially for Humphrey, because he was a kind, likable soul. For him to be the object of that much anger and rage was terribly disheartening.
Following the convention, did you feel that Humphrey had any chance
Oh, yes. We were way down in the polls, and it was a difficult period. But we understood there were limits to Nixon’s popularity, and that it was worth a strenuous effort. We knew it was an uphill battle, but there was hope. There was hope all along.
Within Humphrey’s campaign staff there was an intense internal debate going on. The political team wanted Humphrey to separate himself from Johnson on Vietnam, but Humphrey wasn’t prepared to do that. Humphrey knew that the negotiations with North Vietnam had begun in Paris, with Averell Harriman and Cy Vance talking to them as our negotiators. Finally, at the end of October, Humphrey delivered a speech in Salt Lake City in which he announced he favored a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam provided certain conditions were met by the communist leadership in Hanoi. I reviewed the speech before he gave it, and I thought it was consistent with administration policy. Johnson had made similar offers to the North Vietnamese. But the political people in the campaign were prepping the reporters, telling them, “This is it! We’re breaking with Johnson!” And the press played it up as Humphrey distancing himself from Johnson, emphasizing the call for a bombing halt rather than the conditions Humphrey had stipulated.
At any rate, after that speech the gap between Humphrey and Nixon began to close. Each week our numbers improved. Humphrey’s numbers were getting better and better. Nixon’s numbers were getting worse.
At that point did you think Humphrey was going to win?
On the Saturday before election day, I received a phone call from Lou Harris, the pollster. He said, “Can you get a message to Hubert for me?” I said, “Sure. What’s the message?”
He said, “Tell him he’s won the election.”
I said, “Lou, can you explain that?”
Lou said, “We’ve been polling every day, and Humphrey has been climbing every single day. He passed Nixon this morning. He’s not only ahead nationally, he’s ahead in the crucial battleground states: Illinois, Texas, and New York.”
But, of course, it didn’t turn out that way. On election day Nixon won with a plurality of less than 1 percent of the popular vote. I think people have forgotten how incredibly close that election was.
How did you get involved in international diplomacy?
One morning in 1980 I received a telephone call from Vice President Walter Mondale, who was a close associate of Humphrey’s and a friend of mine. He told me that in a White House foreign policy meeting that morning my name had come up and that President Carter wanted me to represent the United States in Madrid at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. I told Mondale that I was not interested in taking on a government position, that I was happy at my law firm and wanted to stay there and continue with my various nongovernment civil activities. He said, “Well, it will only take three months, and you don’t have to leave your firm.”
I agreed to go on condition that I receive no salary other than expenses. The position had ambassadorial rank, and it didn’t last three months—it went on intermittently for three years. I continued working at the firm, but the diplomacy opened a new phase in my life.
How did you go from working for liberal Democrats like Hubert Humphrey
and Jimmy Carter to working for a conservative Republican like Ronald
The Madrid meetings continued into the Reagan administration. I’d known President Reagan from his time as governor of California, when we both served in an organization called the Committee on Present Danger. He had been a friend and admirer of Humphrey’s and this made our initial meeting a pleasant one. The two of us always got along well, and he asked me to stay on and continue the work in Madrid. President Carter made the original appointment and President Reagan reappointed me. Once the Madrid talks had wrapped up successfully, President Reagan occasionally asked me to help out with various diplomatic chores, which I was glad to do. Our results in Madrid were extraordinarily good for us. With President Reagan’s assistance and Secretary Shultz’s stimulus, we were able to obtain the release of thousands of Soviet people who wanted to leave the Soviet Union, and we were also able to obtain the release of hundreds of prisoners in Soviet jails. None of this was publicized at the time, but it did result in a number of personal awards and a strong feeling of accomplishment.
Did you catch any partisan flak?
Sure, there was some carping from some of my Democratic friends. But as a nation we only have one president at a time, and Reagan was that president. I strongly supported his foreign policy. Like him, I felt it was imperative that the United States take a strong stand vis-à-vis the Soviet Union in the cold war. Had I not agreed with President Reagan’s goals and objectives, I would have declined his requests for assistance. I was never asked to modify my views, and I was never asked to become a Republican. He knew I was a Democrat and we talked about it.
What was your relationship with Reagan like?
The Reagan I knew was not the Reagan I read about in the newspapers. It’s been written that he was cold and aloof, that he was disengaged, that he was a figurehead who didn’t know what was going on inside his own administration. But that’s not what I saw. The Reagan I knew was a fine, sensitive human being. He understood the issues and was fully in charge. He might not have been a great intellectual, but he was attentive to policy, and he had a clear sense of direction. I admired him very much.
How did you become the chief negotiator in the arms reduction talks
with the Soviet Union?
One morning in 1985 I received a call from a reporter with CBS radio. Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko were meeting in Geneva, and she said they had agreed to reopen nuclear arms talks between the United States and the Soviet Union and that I was going to head the American delegation. She wanted a comment. “You must be mistaken,” I said. “I don’t know anything about it.” She said, “We’re running with the story at 6 a.m.” When I left the house, there were a bunch of reporters and television cameras outside, and I told them the same thing, “I don’t know anything about this.”
I did not want the job. Arms control is a highly technical field and I didn’t have the proper training. Through a friend at the State Department I sent word to Secretary Shultz that I wasn’t qualified and that I was not prepared to accept the position if it was offered. My friend called back and said, “Mission accomplished.” I thought that was the end of it. But a week later I received a telephone call from the White House. They had tracked me down in Aspen, where I had gone to speak to a group of young business leaders. President Reagan came on the line and told me that he wanted me to head the American delegation, and that he was not going to accept no as an answer. The next day I was at the White House.
The first meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev took place in December 1985. Our Geneva negotiations had begun, as I recall, in September of 1985. I was not present at the first meeting between the two presidents because it was supposed to be a get-acquainted session. When the president returned from Europe, I was at a meeting of the National Security Council to hear President Reagan report on that first meeting. This is where he said that Margaret Thatcher had been correct and that he sensed he could do business with Gorbachev. He also mentioned that he had proposed to Gorbachev informally that it would be good if they could both reduce and ultimately eliminate all nuclear weapons. Believe me, there was considerable consternation evident around the table in the Cabinet Room. Everybody was against this idea. The secretary of defense and most every government official there spoke up, and explained why it was not in our interest to give up our weapons. Then the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff spoke up with the same concern. Reagan listened as they voiced their objections, but his mind was unchanged, and he presented his suggestions to Gorbachev at their next meeting in Iceland.
When you arrived in Geneva, were you optimistic that progress could
be made in talks with the Soviet Union?
No, the formal plenary sessions were rather tedious. The Soviets were not easy to negotiate with. There was always a lot of public posturing and bombast. But in our informal conversations I had the sense that some constructive movement might be possible. In dealing with the Soviets, we had to be patient, persistent, and eventually we were able to progress beyond the sloganeering to substantive talks that led to meaningful agreements. In that process the Gorbachev–Reagan summits were vital. The summits pushed the pace of the disarmament talks, and ultimately brought an end to the cold war.
What was the Gorbachev–Reagan relationship like?
The two men developed a genuine respect for one another. Long after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I saw Gorbachev when he came to the United States, and I asked him how he felt about Reagan at their first meeting. He said that he had been advised by his intelligence people that Reagan was a has-been movie actor who knew nothing about politics, but was militantly anticommunist. So that’s what he expected to find. An unqualified anticommunist. But when his driver pulled up in front of the house the Swiss had assigned for the meeting, Reagan came dashing out into the cold with a big smile on his face. He helped Gorbachev out the door, stuck out his hand, and said, “Hello, I’m Ronald Reagan.” This was clearly not what Gorbachev had expected. He was impressed by Reagan’s friendly, open manner. The two of them spent a lot of time together, just the two of them with their interpreters. There’s no doubt about the fact that they liked one another, and that their personal rapport had a positive influence on the negotiating environment.
How will future historians rate the Reagan presidency?
I think the skepticism will fade and his place in history will look very good. He changed our relationship with the Soviet Union, which, in turn, changed the nature of the world.
What did you do following your work with President Reagan?
As the arms negotiations matured and clearly were producing two treaties, Secretary Shultz and Reagan asked me to become counselor of the State Department. It was Shultz’s view that my presence was no longer necessary in Geneva, since we had ironed out all the differences between us and were now in a technical stage. President Reagan, however, insisted that I stay as the head of the delegation in Geneva, with the result that I had two jobs for quite some substantial amount of time toward the end of the Reagan administration. The treaties were in good shape. I telephoned my Geneva delegation daily and occasionally flew back to Geneva when I believed it to be necessary. Most of my time, however, I was working at the State Department on other matters.
At the end of the Reagan presidency I left government work and came back to the law firm. I returned with the understanding that I would not practice law, but that I would be a retired partner. Most of my work since my return has involved public affairs, and I’ve also done a lot of writing for publication.
My wife says I’ve begun a new career as “chairman emeritus.”
I serve as chairman of the American Academy of Diplomacy, chairman of
the Georgetown University Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, chairman
of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and chairman
of Freedom House. I’ve done all of this since I left the government,
and it has been exciting and interesting. I’ve enjoyed it every
step of the way. But last November I celebrated my 85th birthday, and
it’s time for me to cut back.
Periodically Washington Lawyer features a conversation with a senior member of the District of Columbia Bar reflecting on his or her career as a lawyer. The “Legends in the Law” are selected by the District of Columbia Bar’s Publications Committee on the basis of their prominence in their profession and their individual impact on the law and the legal profession in the District of Columbia. For past interviews, visit www.dcbar.org/legends.