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Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman Legal Files

Call Number



1915-1992, inclusive
; 1940-1985, bulk


Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman


116.25 Linear Feet in 117 record cartons

Language of Materials

English .


The legal firm of Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman was a major force in civil liberties, civil rights and labor litigation from the 1950s through the 1990s. Senior partners Leonard Boudin and Victor Rabinowitz, along with Michael Standard, Michael Krinsky and Eric Lieberman, are associated with some of the most famous cases of the period, handling litigation and other legal work for Paul Robeson, Alger Hiss, James Peck, Dr. Benjamin Spock and many other notable figures. The firm represented numerous labor unions, most notably the American Communications Association, and assisted clients in passport cases, loss of employment and other legal matters arising from the targeting of individuals in government security investigations. The firm has been deeply involved in civil rights work and, during the Vietnam War, successfully defended, on First Amendment grounds, some of the leading opponents of the war, as well as draft resisters and conscientious objectors. The collection includes legal documents and background materials from many cases handled by the firm, as well as client files containing correspondence, reports, draft contracts and routine legal materials of all kinds.

Historical/Biographical Note

Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman, P.C., is one of the leading and most experienced law firms in the United States. The New York City-based firm has earned a national and international reputation in the areas of constitutional law, civil rights and civil liberties, litigating scores of cases in the Supreme Court of the United States, the federal courts and various state courts, and setting many groundbreaking precedents regarding the rights of political and religious organizations and individuals.

The firm was founded by Victor Rabinowitz, a young attorney who had spent several years at Boudin (Louis), Cohn and Glickstein, a firm engaged almost entirely in the practice of labor law, before leaving in 1944 to join two friends, Sam Neuburger and Sam Shapiro, in establishing Neuburger, Shapiro and Rabinowitz. In 1947, they were joined by Leonard Boudin who remained a senior partner until his death in 1989. Shapiro and Neuburger left the firm in 1952. By 1959, Michael Standard had joined the staff, subsequently becoming a partner, and for many years the firm was known as Rabinowitz, Boudin and Standard. In the early 1970s Michael Krinsky and Eric Lieberman joined, both becoming name partners in 1978. In the late 1980s, Rabinowitz began reducing his practice, becoming "of counsel" to the firm until his death in 2007. Krinsky and Lieberman are at the present time (2008) the senior partners directing the firm's activities.

During the more than fifty years documented within this collection, the firm was a major force in civil liberties, civil rights and labor litigation. Rabinowitz and Boudin defended more than 200 labor leaders, teachers, librarians, professors and others accused of being political subversives and, in the 1960s and 1970s, represented civil rights workers and Vietnam War dissenters. Clients have included such noted figures as Rockwell Kent, Dashiell Hammett, Paul Robeson, Julian Bond, James Peck, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Rev. Philip Berrigan, Dr. Daniel Ellsberg, James R. Hoffa and Alger Hiss. The firm has represented the government of Cuba and, on behalf of its Cuban clients, litigated numerous landmark cases in international and foreign relations law.

Firm partners, Rabinowitz in particular, have been associated with the National Lawyers Guild, a progressive organization formed in 1937 as an alternative to the conservative, and racially segregated, American Bar Association. Deeply involved in the work of the Guild from its earliest days, Rabinowitz served as president of the New York City Chapter (1964-1966) and was national president in 1967 and 1968. Krinsky also served as president of the local chapter (1977-1979) and was the lead attorney in National Lawyers Guild v. Attorney General (1977-1989), a case resulting in admission by the U.S. Government that the FBI had repeatedly wiretapped, burglarized and used other disruptive tactics against the Guild for 35 years. In addition, more than 400,000 pages of FBI documentation on the Guild and its members were released.


Rabinowitz, Victor, Unrepentant Leftist: A Lawyer's Memoir(Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996).Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, P.C., About the Law Firm,, July 23, 2008.Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, P.C., Attorneys,, July 23, 2008.Martin, Douglas, "Victor Rabinowitz, 96, Leftist Lawyer, Dies," The New York Times (November 20, 2007).


Series are arranged alphabetically by case name, client name or topic.

The files are grouped into two series:

Missing Title

  1. I, Case Files
  2. II, General Legal Work and Client Files

Scope and Content Note

The legal files of Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman, P.C. (RBSK& L) have been divided into two series: I. Case Files, 1922-1988, and II. General Legal Work and Client Files, 1915-1992. NOTE: This collection is housed offsite and advance notice is required for use.

Series I: Case Files, 1922-1988, is composed of litigation-related materials from many of the landmark cases handled by the firm as well as other cases in which the firm had an interest. Among the most prominent are:

Peck, James v. Clarence M. Kelly, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (USA). James Peck, a civil rights worker who participated in the first Freedom Ride from Washington to Mississippi, was brutally beaten, along with other riders, when they reached Birmingham, Alabama. Eric Lieberman represented Peck in this historic case that established the duty of the FBI and Justice Department to intervene to protect civil rights.

Hoffa, James R. v. William B. Saxbe, U.S. Attorney General. This case focused on the condition attached to President Nixon's commutation of James Hoffa's 13-year prison sentence barring him from union management after his release. Case materials involve members of the Nixon White House staff, John Dean and Chuck Colson; include depositions given by John Mitchell and others; and mention Hoffa's eventual disappearance.

Socialist Workers Party v. Attorney General. Boudin and Lieberman represented the plaintiffs in this celebrated case which proved that the F.B.I. had engaged in an almost thirty-year campaign of break-ins and infiltration against the Socialist Workers party and the Young Socialist Alliance.

• Passport Cases. Among the notable passport cases included in this series are Robeson, Paul v. John Foster Dulles, U.S. Secretary of Stateand Kent, Rockwell v. John Foster Dulles, U.S. Secretary of State. Boudin argued both of these cases. In the Kent case the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the fundamental right of foreign travel, ruling that the policy of not issuing passports to Communists violated the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of association.

Bond, Julian v. James Floyd, et al. Rabinowitz and Boudin successfully represented Julian Bond in this case which involved the refusal of the Georgia House of Representative to seat Bond after his election to that body in 1965. The refusal was based on an anti-war statement made by Bond. In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the Georgia House of Representatives had denied Bond his freedom of speech and that it was required to seat him.

• Other Cases Involving Anti-War Protest.Among the many files within this series involving anti-war issues are such notable cases as USA v. William Sloan Coffin, Jr., USA v. Benjamin Spock, and USA v. Eqbal Ahmad. In another protest case, Rabinowitz represented Robert Gwathmey who had been arrested for the display of a banner resembling the American flag except that there was the peace symbol instead of stars on the blue field at the upper left corner ( Gwathmey, Robert and William Durham, et al. v. Town of East Hampton). The New York State law on which Gwathmey's arrest was based was ruled unconstitutional.

Series II: General Legal Work and Client Files, 1915-1992, contains a variety of materials associated with specific clients represented by the firm. Many of the long-term clients are labor organizations and, while a good deal of the material is related to litigation, these files also contain correspondence, contracts, research, notes, minutes, and clippings. In addition to client materials, there are also documents that reflect routine legal work performed by various members of the firm.

An extensive amount of material in this series relates to work done on behalf of the American Communications Association (ACA). Victor Rabinowitz began his relationship with the ACA while still working for Boudin, Cohn and Glickstein, and the union continued as a client after he left that firm. In his first appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court, Rabinowitz represented the ACA in an unsuccessful challenge to the constitutionality of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act's requirement that union officers sign an affidavit swearing that they were not members of, nor affiliated with, the Communist Party ( ACA v. Douds, 1950). Records of this and many other cases are included within the collection. In addition to litigation materials, ACA files address grievances, arbitrations, contract negotiations, elections, strike issues, and interaction with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the War Labor Board (WLB).

Another client well-represented in this series is the Teachers Union of the City of New York. Most of the Teachers Union material involves the loyalty investigations and resulting dismissal of teachers and other school employees, beginning in the late 1940s and continuing through numerous reinstatement attempts including those after the Supreme Court finally ruled in 1967 against New York's Feinberg Law.

Among the other unions represented in the series, the Civil Service Technical Guild (CSTG; AFSCME, DC37, Local 375) and the United Furniture Workers of America (UFWA) are prominent. Materials involving negotiations, agreements, benefit plans, organizational issues, and employee dismissals are included, along with litigation files.

Non-union clients include organizations such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the War Resisters League, the Black Panther Bail and Defense Funds, and Protestants and Others United for the Separation of Church and State, as well as a number of individuals seeking assistance with passports, draft status and family estates.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (and related rights to publicity and privacy) to materials in this collection created by Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman Legal Files; TAM 287; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Provenance unknown. Most likely acquired from Victor Rabinowitz in circa 1997. The accession number associated with this collection is 2005.008.

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Audiovisual materials have not been preserved and may not be available to researchers. Materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Victor Rabinowitz Papers (TAM 123)

National Lawyers Guild Records (TAM 191)

Collection processed by

Processed by Anne Parsons, 2004; Susan Tofte, Elizabeth Du Rocher, 2006; Jan Hilley, 2008

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-10-25 15:50:21 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Description is in English.

Revisions to this Guide

December 2022: Edited by Anna Björnsson McCormick to correct the spelling of Harry Belafonte's name

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from Rabinowitz-Boudin Tam 287.doc


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
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