Joseph Flom

Apparently Joseph Flom — name partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — is gravely ill. On Friday, his son took to the internet to talk about the life of his father.

It’s a pretty amazing tribute. One of the knocks on making it big in Biglaw are the family life sacrifices. But if his son’s words are any indication, Joe Flom attained that elusive “work/life balance”….

You can read the full post on the Daily Kos. The piece doesn’t really focus on Flom’s legal career, but let’s take a look at Flom’s legal life, through his son’s eyes:

He worked during high school, doing homework on the subway between work, school, and home. One job he tried to get was delivering telegrams. But they didn’t want a Jew. He graduated just in time to be drafted, and the army, showing wisdom, looked at this 5’6″, 210 pound boy with 20 – a bazillion vision and kept him far from the front. They sent him to college, but he never quite got a BA. Then he applied to Harvard Law. At that time, Harvard would sometimes let in people without BAs. He graduated 23rd in his class and was editor of the Law Review. But when he got out, he couldn’t get a job at a “good” firm – they didn’t hire Jews. So he joined a small firm with three partners. He was their first associate, but became a partner quickly. The firm eventually was named Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, and it’s one of the largest in the world. Heh.

It’s amazing that we’re little more than a generation removed from a situation where “top firms” wouldn’t hire Jewish people. And in that generation, some of those excluded by the establishment have become the establishment. That’s the American dream.

Later, he established the Skadden Fellowship Foundation. That foundation pays a salary and benefits to law school graduates who wish “to provid[e] legal services to the poor (including the working poor), the elderly, the homeless and the disabled, as well as those deprived of their civil or human rights”; it also helps the fellows pay off law school debt.

He’s also served on hospital boards and the board of the NYC Holocaust Memorial Commission.

And, in the I Have a Dream program, he adopted a graduating class of 6th graders from one of NYC’s poorest neighborhoods, helping them and providing services and tuition assistance through college. I went to the talk he gave to the sixth graders…

Oh? And Western Union? That wouldn’t hire him to deliver telegrams? They’re a client.

That’s a wonderful story.

And maybe it’s not Joe Flom’s eulogy, not yet. His son updated his post on Sunday:

Major update: He woke up, is coherent and changed his mind. He will have further surgery tomorrow. So, he won’t die this weekend.

We wish Joseph Flom and his family the best of luck during these difficult times.

My dad will die this weekend: What an amazing life [Daily Kos]


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