About Steve Knopper

Steve Knopper Articles written 57

Steve Knopper is a Billboard editor at large, former Rolling Stone contributing editor, contributor to The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ and many other publications, and the author of two books: Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age and MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson. A longtime Super Lawyers contributor, he has written numerous oral histories, including one about civil rights attorneys in Alabama in the 1950s and ’60s, and another on the pioneering wave of women attorneys in Southern California in the 1970s. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Articles written by Steve Knopper

'Where You Are and Where You've Been'

Six attorneys share their stories of coming to America

Long before he went to law school, Mazin Sbaiti faced a more difficult challenge: When he was 13, Saddam Hussein invaded his country. “August second, 1990,” he says. “I remember that day very well.” He and his parents were visiting U.S. colleges with his older sister, so the family never returned to their Kuwaiti home. Instead, they moved into his grandmother’s house in Carrollton, Texas, where Sbaiti became a heavy-metal bassist, then joined a debate team, before heading to Columbia …

Going Solo

Six attorneys on the joys and challenges of hanging a shingle

If you’re an attorney working alone, you’re not alone. Last year, 26% of respondents to an American Bar Association survey were solo practitioners.  There are as many reasons for hanging a shingle as there are for becoming a lawyer in the first place, including the desire for opportunity and independence. And though hanging a shingle means playing with your own stakes rather than the house’s, all six Oregon soloists we spoke with came out ahead. “Now,” says criminal defense lawyer …

'The Doors Were Opening'

An oral history of the first wave of women attorneys

The 1970s were the tipping point.  According to the American Bar Association, women made up just 3.4% of J.D.s in 1960, and while by 1970 that number had more than doubled, to 8.6%, it was still just a sliver. Over the next 10 years it exploded. By 1980, 34.2% of the attorneys in the country were women.  The six San Diego attorneys interviewed here experienced that revolution firsthand. When Candace Carroll graduated from Duke University Law School in 1974, about 25 women were in her class; …

Representing Rosa, Cheating the Hangman, and Other Stories from 400 Years of Law

Seven attorneys from four states—each with 50+ years in practice—talk about their careers

Being a lawyer in the Mid-South in the ‘60s meant contending with historic strife:  James Robertson fled his home state of Mississippi for Harvard Law School after not supporting segregation on his college newspaper; H. Watt Gregory joined the Army Reserve partly to avoid fighting in the Vietnam War.  Then there’s Fred Gray. He was a year out of law school when he was called on to represent NAACP secretary Rosa Parks after she refused to give up her seat on a city bus. Shortly afterwards, …

500 Years of Legal Knowledge

Eight attorneys, each with 60+ years experience, talk about everything from LSAT-less law schools to Freedom Rides to John and Yoko

Let’s say you got your J.D. this year and began practicing law. What do you think you’ll be doing in the year 2086? Still practicing? Because that’s the relative time frame for Harvey Weitz, a 1954 graduate of Brooklyn Law School who’s still at it 66 years later. His practice alone is old enough to collect full Social Security benefits.  The eight attorneys featured here have practiced law for a combined 500 years, and they’ve got the stories to go with it. Ernst Rosenberger and …

The Man Who Introduced John Lewis to Martin Luther King Jr.

Attorney Fred Gray on the passing of the civil rights icon

Fred Gray was not only the attorney who represented Rosa Parks during the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott, he was the man who introduced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to a young kid from Troy, Alabama, who, in 1958, wanted to file suit to attend Alabama's all-white Troy State College. His name was John Lewis. While Lewis never attended Troy State, he would go on to become the first president of SNCC, speak at the March on Washington, lead the Freedom Rides, lead the Selma-to-Montgomery marches that …

Trial by Fire

Starting out as a prosecutor: a brutal workload. And the best job ever

In her first five years as a lawyer, Adrienne McEntee tried about 50 cases—from DUIs to murders—some of which she received after walking into the courtroom. "You learn how to juggle a lot of cases and how to digest an enormous amount of information in a short period of time," says McEntee, a 2003 University of Washington School of Law graduate, "and then have to turn around, pick a jury, deliver an opening statement—oftentimes, without notes."  Her job at the King County Prosecuting …

Going Public

Six LA-area criminal defense attorneys recount the joys and heavy workloads of being prosecutors and public defenders

Long before Aaron McAllister became an attorney, he watched his brother lose a Division I football scholarship after being pressured into a plea deal on allegations of selling marijuana. His public defender barely knew his name, and he was convicted without a trial. “He wanted to be a teacher and had all these goals and plans,” McAllister recalls.  “I just saw how it hurt him even after he served his time. It made me really passionate about criminal defense.”  As a result, one of …

'Whatever You Do, Don't Look at the Clock'

Florida attorneys swap U.S. Supreme Court stories—from getting dressed down by Scalia to being the last lawyer to address Rehnquist

Tallahassee attorney Barry Richard has argued four cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. One took place in the midst of a scorching heatwave; another in a deep freeze; one was packed with visitors for an unrelated abortion case; another was empty save a handful of tourists. But he's most famous for a case he didn't argue in D.C.: Bush v. Gore, for which he was candidate George W. Bush's lead attorney in 47 Florida state cases.  But he had to miss Ted Olson’s argument in the federal case …

This Is a Change, and I Want to Be Part of It

An oral history of trailblazing women in the law

From 1969 to 1971, on the University of Michigan campus, Jeralyn Merritt hung out with Iggy Pop, MC5 and Alice Cooper while working her part-time job at a record store. When there were student protests at the University of Southern California, Lynn Feiger recalls the female law school dean bringing donuts as part of a plan to defuse tension. Nancy R. Crow was able to travel through Europe after law school, when her male contemporaries could not, because they were eligible to be drafted into the …

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