About Steve Knopper

Steve Knopper
Steve Knopper Articles written 55

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

“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. …

The Bridge

Qusair Mohamedbhai tackles civil rights and employee rights in post-9/11 America

The University of Wyoming isn’t the most diverse campus in the world, and Qusair Mohamedbhai was one of the few Muslim students at its law school. He thrived. “My classmates were obviously great,” he says. But after September 11, 2001, things changed. Laramie locals spotted him and called the university to confirm he was an enrolled student. “There were times when you got a lot of looks,” he says. “Anyone who looked Middle Eastern was becoming profiled, and that was serious. I’m …

L.A. Unconfidential

Nine top attorneys talk about practicing law from the 1950s to today

Before the existence of no-fault divorce, the LSAT and even a UCLA law school building, young attorneys in Los Angeles in the 1950s had to figure out how to make their careers work. Not that there weren’t plenty of opportunities: The military provided great legal training, Silicon Valley was just a glimmer in the eye of techies and businessmen, and “Sorrell Trope” might show up at a restaurant looking startlingly like Cary Grant. Some of it was less positive: Women and minorities were all …

An Interview with Fred D. Gray

Q: I know early in your career when you were considering going to law school, you were also in the process of becoming a preacher. When did you decide to do both? A: I was born in 1930 in Montgomery, and grew up with very religious parents. My father died when I was 2, but my mother brought us up in the Free Church of Christ in Montgomery, which is still there. My mother told me I used to baptize cats and dogs and anything else I could get my fingers on. There was a boarding school in Nashville …

An Interview with J. Mason Davis

Q: When you first started practicing law in Alabama, was it something that your family encouraged? A: My mother had a brother who graduated from Ohio State in 1933 or 1934, and he practiced law in Cincinnati. He had worked with our family business, an insurance company, so my mother encouraged me to go to law school so I could come back and look after the business. Q: What were some of the challenges, not only getting into law school, but once you were in? A: At the State University of New York …

An Interview with U.W. Clemon

Q: I read an article in the Columbia Law School magazine that said you first knew you wanted to become a civil rights lawyer when you saw police officers threatening a friend of yours. A: They didn't just threaten him; they terrorized him. We were 13. My brother and a friend [named Anthony] were walking from Westville, right outside of Birmingham, to the next town, less than two miles away, where my brother and sister lived. [The police] came up and pointed at Anthony and told him, “Nigger, …

‘We’ve Come a Rather Remarkable Way’

An oral history of civil rights and the African-American bar 60 years after Montgomery

   It’s impossible to talk about civil rights history without Alabama. Sixty years ago, Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white commuter, leading to a yearlong boycott of Montgomery’s buses, and the rise to national prominence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In 1963, clashes between nonviolent protesters and Birmingham police with dogs and fire hoses made worldwide news, ultimately leading to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Fifty years ago in 1965, Selma became a focal …

Patent Office No Longer Pending

How John Posthumus helped grow Colorado

Most summer weekdays, John Posthumus gets up at 5 a.m. and runs 6 or 7 miles to prepare for the New York City Marathon; or he grabs his bike and rides 30 miles around the Cherry Creek Reservoir. But no matter the exercise routine, he’s always at his desk at Sheridan Ross in downtown Denver by 9 a.m. “I think John doesn’t sleep much,” says Michael Drapkin, a partner at Holland & Hart in Boulder. “People who get this kind of stuff done don’t sleep a lot.” Posthumus, a …

“Why Are You Competing With Me?”

An oral history of the first wave of female attorneys

The women who graduated from Indiana University’s law school in Indianapolis in 1970 found themselves in the minority. A distinct minority. “In our original class, there were three [women], and two of us graduated,” recalls Aline F. Anderson, solo practitioner in Indianapolis. By the end of the ’70s, those numbers had started to grow. More importantly, as the years wore on, the U.S. became more progressive and fair when it came to equal rights and family leave; discrimination became …

‘Hey Chick, Want to Go to Court?’

An oral history of the good, the bad and the ugly experiences of the first wave of female attorneys

The women who graduated from law school in the late 1960s and early 1970s were not as rare as Sandra Day O’Connor, who was one of only five women in her Stanford Law graduating class of 1952. They didn’t have to fight to get into school, as O’Connor did; they didn’t enter a world where it seemed impossible to become a partner at a major firm; and they didn’t have to deal with judges who banned women from wearing pants in their courtrooms. OK, scratch that last one—women in the …

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