About Steve Knopper

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Steve Knopper Articles written 54

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

From Then … … to Now

An oral history of lawyers who started practicing in the 1960s

In the ‘60s, attorneys called their next witnesses from phones in courtroom lobbies. Men graduating from law school might be drafted into the military. Holland & Hart, the biggest firm in Denver, had 30 attorneys. And women and minorities—including aspiring Jewish lawyers—had a hard time even getting into law school or procuring top jobs at firms.  “We had torts classes, contracts, future interests, basic property. Those were bread-and-butter-type courses,” recalls Chuck …

Big America

An oral history of immigrants in Illinois law

Moving to another country is never easy.  When 10-year-old Dhenu Savla and her family arrived from India in 1991, she felt a sense of “disempowerment,” as she calls it. “This place was foreign. There were rules, there were customs, that were not familiar. People looked at me as an outsider.” She faced bullying at school, but as she grew older and more used to American life, she decided to become an immigration lawyer to help others feel stronger and more at home. Not all …

Women's Day

An oral history of those who fought “We don’t hire women” law firms and handsy judges to make legal history

“You’re taking the place of a guy who has to support his family.”  Just about every woman who attended law school before 1980 had to contend with a variation on that line. It was often one of the nicer things they heard. A male classmate of Mary F. Voce, a Greenberg Traurig shareholder who graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1969, told her that he wouldn’t be able to concentrate if she continued to sit next to him. She suggested he move.  “I realized right …

Pushing at the Edges

An oral history of women who began practicing law in the early 1970s

By the time they went to law school at Harvard and Penn and BU in the 1970s, women found female colleagues, and when they interviewed with firms, they found one or two women forebears. “I felt I was accepted as a lawyer,” recalls Faye Cohen, a 1972 law school graduate now practicing in Philadelphia.  But Cohen and her peers still had battles to fight. One opposing counsel in a long-ago arbitration hearing told Martha Hartle Munsch, now an equity partner at Reed Smith in Pittsburgh, “Shut …

The Blueberry Patch Exception

Boulder’s Hutchinson Black and Cook allows its partners a year off

Fifteen years ago, Brad Peterson was hanging out in a blueberry patch at his brother-in-law Sven Olaf’s house in Mellbystrand, Sweden—the address was actually 2 Blueberry Way—when he received a phone call from Chris Ford, an attorney at his firm, Hutchinson Black and Cook in Boulder, who needed advice on a case.  “I’m in a blueberry patch,” Peterson responded. “Why are you bothering me?” Peterson, now 60, was on the first of three sabbaticals he has taken as part of HBC’s …

The Vanishing Jury Trial

And will it make a comeback?

In 2005, Kathryn Miller was in the middle of an employment discrimination deposition on the plaintiff side, and she and opposing counsel were shouting objections—”going at it, which is what you do,” she says—when her client burst into tears.  During a break, Miller huddled with her. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Things are going really well.” “This is not about me or my issues anymore, is it?” the client responded. “This is about you and the other lawyer and all the …

‘The Chief Is Eating My Sandwich’

And other memories of the high court from eight former SCOTUS clerks

There’s nothing quite like being a U.S. Supreme Court law clerk. During a one-year term, clerks typically work 80-hour weeks, performing duties like reviewing Petitions for Writs of Certiorari and recommending whether a justice should vote to hear a case.  But it isn’t all work. Some clerks have played tennis with Justice William Rehnquist, enrolled in Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s yoga classes, putted golf balls with Justice Byron “Whizzer” White in his office, and participated in …

Oral History: 13 Ways of Looking at a Black Robe

Former clerks to the U.S. Supreme Court talk about their experiences at the center of American law

They were there for some of the biggest cases in the last 50 years: Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, U.S. v. Nixon. They were there on 9/11. They learned firsthand about Justice Antonin Scalia’s decades-long friendship with his philosophical rival, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and they sat at the feet of Justice Marshall as he regaled them with stories about civil rights in the Deep South.  And their justices were there for them, too: when a parent died, when a letter of …

‘Still Dancing Backwards in High Heels’

An oral history of Minnesota women who started practicing law in the 1960s and ’70s

In 1969, when Judith Oakes graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School, there were only three other women in her class. A male classmate asked why she had the audacity to take his buddy’s spot: “Nobody’s ever going to hire you as a lawyer anyway,” he told her. Recalls Oakes: “I thought that was pretty odd, because I knew my LSATs were higher than his.” By 1977, when Rebecca Egge Moos graduated, 30 percent of her classmates were women. The number of bathroom stalls was …

“Gee, I Helped This Guy Today”

An oral history of five Pennsylvania attorneys who graduated from law school in the 1950

Back then, few people took the LSAT, and Pennsylvania law students needed established “preceptors” to shepherd them through their degrees and early careers. Only a handful of women were in each class. Young attorneys often majored in law and minored in the Korean War. Many married young, started families quickly and established firms to make money any way they could.  Here are the stories of five Pennsylvania attorneys who earned their law degrees in the 1950s and are still practicing. …

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