About Steve Knopper

Steve Knopper Articles written 56

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

‘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 …

Revisiting Warren Jeffs

Former prosecutors Eric Nichols and Fields Alexander and defense attorney Deric King Walpole revisit the mayhem surrounding the polygamist’s trial

Deric King Walpole was on his way to tae kwan do on a Tuesday evening in July 2011 when his legal assistant called. Somebody from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wanted to talk to him. The next thing the McKinney criminal defense attorney knew, he was on a chartered plane at 5:30 a.m. to Schleicher County, where his jailed client was waiting to meet him. This was Warren Jeffs, then 55, a leader of the polygamist breakaway Mormon sect since 2002. Jeffs was awaiting …

The Beasley Legacy

Everyone who worked with legendary Philadelphia trial lawyer Jim Beasley has a story or two to tell. Some of the attorneys who knew him best shared their memories with us

James E. Beasley Sr. didn’t seem like the kind of kid who’d grow up to be a fire-breathing legal showman, someone who seduced skeptical juries while steamrolling over defense attorneys and judges. He was a high school dropout in West Philadelphia, then drove trucks, buses and cabs after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. But after graduating from Temple University School of Law, he opened a Philadelphia shop where, over the next few decades, he’d try more than 400 …

Operation Greylord: Fixing the System

An oral history of the investigation that took down a corrupt Cook County court system

As it turns out, even in Chicago a judge cannot make financial arrangements with a defense attorney to fix a case. Such bald-faced bribery happened over and over in the Cook County court system in the early ‘80s, which led a group of U.S. attorneys and FBI agents to begin a long, nuanced investigation they called Operation Greylord. Playing out like scenes from The Wire, Greylord had everything—moles and recording devices, heroes and bagmen, Russian roulette and courtroom drama. By the end, …

Too Big to Not Fail

An oral history of the short life and quick death of Dewey & LeBoeuf

“You have to be bigger,” Steven H. Davis said. In 2007, after orchestrating the merger of New York law firms Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, Davis and the new firm management predicted that the newly christened Dewey & LeBoeuf, with a combined 1,400 employees, would make $1 billion in annual revenue and lead the growing trend of globally sophisticated super-firms. Bad timing. Davis, chairman of the merged firm, didn’t account for the U.S. economic collapse …

After Columbine

An oral history of the legal issues surrounding the Littleton tragedy

Within hours of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s shooting spree in Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, local attorneys’ phones began to ring. Like everyone else, they were dumbstruck by the news that the heavily armed teenagers shot and killed 12 students and a teacher, then themselves. With national media invading their firms and counselors showing up from other states to publicly threaten lawsuits, these attorneys had to remain stoic and professional at all times. It wasn’t easy. …

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