Thursday, December 04, 2014

Schuler Presents THE STEEL BAR to ACC

Reposted from Ingots:

Ron Schuler, Member in Charge of the Pittsburgh office, recently gave a presentation on “The Steel Bar: ‘In-House Lawyers’ in Pittsburgh – History and Ethics,” with special guest Jerry Richey, general counsel of the University of Pittsburgh, to the Pittsburgh chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

Schuler’s talk, which was a preview of his book-in-progress, The Steel Bar: Pittsburgh Lawyers and the Making of Modern America, focused on episodes from the book involving in-house lawyers, with sidebar discussions about ethical issues with Richey.
Schuler discussed the development of the concept of an in-house lawyer in Pittsburgh – “a job that didn’t exist in 1800” – through George Westinghouse’s pioneering appointment of Pittsburgh patent lawyer George Christy as Vice President and general counsel of Westinghouse Air Brake Company in 1873, to the creation of the “in-house law firm” by Alcoa general counsel Leon Hickman in the 1950s. Schuler also commented on the role of the in-house lawyer in the conflict between Carnegie and Frick that led to the “World’s Greatest Lawsuit” and the role of big company GCs — such as Alcoa’s Hickman, PPG’s Leland Hazard and Mellon’s Arthur Van Buskirk — in driving Pittsburgh’s Renaissance civic improvement projects during the 1940s and 50s.
The Steel Bar, Schuler explains, is not just a history of the legal profession in Pittsburgh, but a book about important aspects of American history. “It is about the ways that Pittsburgh lawyers have been engaged in important American issues at the highest levels” – for example, in defining the limits of dissent under a new constitution during the Whiskey Rebellion, improvising the legal inner-workings of American corporate ownership, management and control during Pittsburgh’s great industrial revolution of the 19th century, and working at the center of the crises that defined American labor-management relations, from the 1877 Railroad Riots, to the battle between Carnegie Steel and the steelworkers at Homestead in 1892, to the creation of the NLRB in the 1930s. The book also shows Pittsburgh lawyers and their unique experiences during important national trends and periods, such as the McCarthy Era, machine politics and the rackets, the fight for civil rights during the 1960s, and the ongoing challenges of achieving diversity within the profession. The Steel Bar is expected to be completed in early 2015.
Jerry Richey, who was named general counsel of the University of Pittsburgh in 2013, previously served as general counsel and chief legal officer at CONSOL Energy from 2005 to 2013, and prior to that served as a shareholder and ethics counsel to the firm of Buchanan Ingersoll. Richey is also known to track and field fans as a world-class miler who ran a sub-4-minute mile in the 1968 U.S. Olympic Trials, and still holds the record at the University of Pittsburgh for the 3200 meter race, with a time of 8:39.44.
To learn more about The Steel Bar, click here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

That Time When a Pittsburgh Lawyer Governed Part of Ukraine

Gregory Zatkovich was born in Austria-Hungary and "immigrated to Pennsylvania with his parents at age 2.  His father was the editor of an activist journal supporting Rusyn-Americans, an ethnic group from Carpathian Ruthenia, an area now within Slovakia and western Ukraine.  Zatkovich grew up in Pittsburgh, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1907, and earned his law degree there three years later.  He entered the Pittsburgh bar in October 1910.  In July 1918, as the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was on the verge of collapse, Rusyn-Americans began to agitate for the independence of Carpathian Ruthenia.  As a leader of the Rusyn movement, however, Zatkovich was convinced by members of the Wilson administration that merging Carpathian Ruthenia into a new Czech state was the only viable option, and he was convinced to sign the “Philadelphia Agreement” with Czech president Tomas Masaryk, upon the promise that Carpathian Ruthenia would be granted autonomy within the new Czech state.  Masaryk appointed Zatkovich governor of the province on April 20, 1920.  He served for a little less than a year, resigning on April 17, 1921 over disagreements on the border with Slovakia, and returned to his practice in Pittsburgh."  

"He has the distinction of being the only American citizen to have presided as governor over a province that would later become a part of the U.S.S.R."  

Zatkovich later served as Pittsburgh city solicitor during the administration of Mayor William McNair in the 1930s.


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Friday, June 21, 2013

Jacob Margolis: Pittsburgh lawyer, Anarcho-Syndicalist

         Chairman:  Just how would you describe yourself?
         Margolis:  First, syndicalist; I put the syndicalist first, because it is an important thing; syndicalist-anarchist would be my position.

Jacob Margolis, a Pittsburgh lawyer who represented the IWW during the 1919 Steel Strike, told Senator William Kenyon of Iowa that he was an anarchist during a Senate investigation of the Steel Strike.  When he returned home to Pittsburgh, he found that the Allegheny County Bar Association was moving to have him disbarred.  During the legal battle that followed, the ACBA was fed information from the FBI.  Margolis lost his license to practice law in 1920 following arguments before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but was reinstated within the bar in 1928.  He spent most of the rest of his career as a writer and lecturer, retiring to Santa Barbara, California during the 1940s.

NOTE: Photo is not available for republication.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Justice Baldwin's Dueling Past

"Duels were not altogether uncommon among these men in this day. ... Henry Baldwin had fought a duel against another lawyer, Isaac Meason, Jr., over a grievance that has been described as either political or romantic in nature – possibly both. During the first round of pistol-fire, Baldwin was hit in the chest and began spitting up blood, so witnesses feared he had been shot through; but apparently a Spanish silver dollar in Baldwin’s waistcoat pocket deflected Meason’s bullet. The parties were scared off by a posse sent by Judge Riddle before they could lob a second volley." Henry Baldwin later became an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

See The Steel Bar: Pittsburgh Lawyers and the Making of Modern America.

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Monday, November 05, 2012

Yes, I'm sick and tired of the election, too ... but ...

Yes, I'm sick and tired of the election, too.  I have to confess, though, that the night before the election is just like Christmas Eve was to me when I was a kid.  Maybe it's just me, but for all my excitement, I'm going to have a hard time getting to sleep tonight, and tomorrow morning I'll be up and running down the stairs ... because after months of being talked to and talked at, of dozens of robocalls and campaign contribution solicitations, of having my daily practical thoughts interrupted at every turn by a SuperPAC campaign ad, I'm finally going to get my present.  I'm going to get to have my say.

As much as I may be completely fed up with this campaign, I do love our process.  It's a great gift, and I can hardly wait until sunrise to open it.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Natural Gas is King in Pittsburgh – Deja vu All Over Again?

I was reading an article from the New York Times the other day, and the first line of the article was, “Natural gas is King in Pittsburgh.”
The article described how much natural gas development is under way in the region; that with respect to overall enterprise cost, “gas is far cheaper as fuel than coal,” especially for manufacturing; that it is reinvigorating the economy of Pittsburgh, and attracting capital to the region; and finally, that natural gas is a clean fuel.
The date of this article was October 18, 1885.
Read more here.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

And the People Hit Worst Are the Poor

As we keep the people of Haiti in our thoughts and prayers, it is perhaps an appropriate moment to give a shout out to the memory of the late Fred Cuny, who made these relevant observations about earlier disasters, and whose words may inspire us today:

Disasters hurt people. They injure and kill. They cause emotional distress and trauma. They destroy homes and businesses, cause economic hardships, and spell financial ruin for many. And the people hit worst are the poor. A natural disaster can happen anywhere, but for a combination of reasons -- political as well as geographic -- most large scale disasters occur in the region between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. This region encompasses most of the poorer developing nations, which we call the Third World.

For survivors of a natural disaster, a second disaster may also be looming, for the very aid that is intended to help them recover may be provided in such a way that it actually impedes recovery, causes further economic hardship, and renders society less able to cope with the next disaster.

... Recognizing poverty as the primary root of vulnerability and disaster in the Third World is the first step toward developing an understanding of the need for change in current disaster responses. For if the magnitude of disasters is an outgrowth of underdevelopment and poverty, how can we expect to reduce the impact with food, blankets, and tents, the traditional forms of assistance?

Emergency relief is an essential part of the response to a tragedy such as the one in Haiti. Give generously, give now:

There are many worthy organizations to whom you can send your money. But, with Fred Cuny's observations as our guide, perhaps we can also establish another set of objectives in our aid to Haitian people: to upgrade the standard of housing; to provide increased job opportunities; to improve or diversify local skills; and to provide alternate income to people whose economic livelihood has been hurt by the disaster. Maybe this time we can help to prevent the "second disaster."

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