Debater Profile: Celebrating the Birthday of Alan Dershowitz; A Champion of Civil Liberties. And Captain of his Debate Team! Happy Birthday!

by Erik Fogel | Sep 1, 2017 6:00:00 AM |

Alan Dershowitz

adam dershowitz.jpg

I will continue to fight for justice, fairness, and constitutional rights until my dying breath. -- Alan Dershowitz



On September 1, 1938, a man with one of the sharpest legal minds in American history was born in Brooklyn, New York. This man is Alan Dershowitz, a world-renowned attorney and author. At the age of 28, Dershowitz became the youngest full professor of legal studies at Harvard Law School in 1967.


He graduated from Yeshiva University High School, an independent boys' prep school located in Manhattan, New York. In his high school years, Dershowitz was known an outspoken basketball player who also had the oratory skills of a seasoned debater. His argumentation and debate skills often got him in trouble with teachers.  He later said his teachers told him to do something that "requires a big mouth and no brain ... so I became a lawyer." After graduating from high school, he attended Brooklyn College and received his A.B. in 1959, majoring in Political Science.


At Brooklyn College he was president of Executive Council, the Forensic Society, and captain of the debate team!  "On the debate team, Dershowitz had a handicap: as an observant Jew he couldn't write on Shabbat and most competitions were held on Saturday. Coach Charles Parkhurst taught him to make it an asset by developing a mnemonic memory. "I then never needed notes, for three years in law school," said Dershowitz. To this day, he does not allow his Harvard Law students to take notes during the first few weeks of classes. "Take it in, don't take it down," he says." "Every aspect of my life grew out of what happened here." (http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/bc/spotlite/news/092903.htm)


Next he attended Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal,[14] and graduated first in his class with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) in 1962.


The center of Dershowitz's "rebel with a cause" nature was rooted in his desire to be a voice for the voiceless. His wealth of expertise stems from a career that was solidified by a ripe understanding of criminal law and U.S. constitutional law.

Dershowitz's catalog as an author consists of books, such as "America on Trial: Inside the Legal Battles That Transformed Our Nation," which provoked much thought and debate among the nation's top legal scholars. Not only is Dershowitz an accomplished professional, he is a prominent activist.


He became the youngest Professor at Harvard Law School in its history. "Much of his legal career has focused on criminal law, and his clients have included high-profile figures such as Patty Hearst, Harry Reems, Leona Helmsley, Jim Bakker, Mike Tyson, Michael Milken, O.J. Simpson and Kirtanananda Swami. Dershowitz also reports to have been one of Nelson Mandela's lawyers.[21] He sees himself as a "lawyer of last resort"—someone to turn to when the defendant has few other legal options—and takes those cases that are what he calls "the most challenging, the most difficult and precedent-setting cases."[22] He is currently advising Julian Assange's legal team."  (Wikipedia)


His selflessness and advocacy for his fellow members of the Jewish faith have earned him a number of truly honorable accolades. In December 2011, Dershowitz won the Menachem Begin Award of Honor by the Menachem Begin Heritage Center during a function co-organized by the NGO Monitor.


Today, youths can make a difference through eloquently using their voices to confront injustices of any kind by joining a debate team. The next female or male version of Alan Dershowitz is definitely a current debate champion at a school somewhere in America.


For more information about how to get involved with a premier youth forensics group in New York City, contact us.


His publications: 

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