New Law School chair named for renowned litigator
Harold E. Kohn was a Temple trustee and a pioneer in class actions
The James E. Beasley School of Law has received the endowment of the Harold E. Kohn Chair in Law, in memory of one of the country’s renowned antitrust attorneys and architect of the modern-day class action.
The $2 million gift is being jointly funded by the Barrack Foundation, chaired by Leonard Barrack, a Temple Law alumnus and longtime colleague of Kohn’s, and the Kohn Foundation, co-directed by Kohn’s widow, Edith, and his son Joseph C. Kohn.
A founding partner of Kohn, Savett, Klein & Graf, Kohn received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Temple in 1990, and was a member of the Board of Trustees for more than 20 years. He also endowed two scholarships at the Law School and was a prominent supporter of its clinical program until his death in 1999.
“Harold Kohn was a remarkable man,” Law School Dean Robert J. Reinstein said. “His contributions have touched countless lives, from his work on behalf of the American legal system to this philanthropy. We are honored that the Barrack Foundation and the Arronson Foundation chose Temple Law to receive this distinction, which will enable us to recruit another outstanding teacher and scholar to our faculty.”
Kohn was one of the innovators of modern class-action procedures used by federal and state courts to administer large antitrust, securities fraud, environmental and mass-disaster litigation. A lifelong resident of Philadelphia, he became a central figure in most of the nationwide antitrust price-fixing cases, earning the nickname “The Grandfather of Class Actions.” Yet he was a true Renaissance lawyer who also took on cases involving the First Amendment, privacy, zoning and commercial transactions.
In 1952, Kohn was appointed by Philadelphia Mayor Joseph Clark Jr. as special counsel to the city on transit matters, later helping establish the public transit system that became SEPTA.
Joseph C. Kohn
“My father was an inspiration to me both professionally and personally,” said Joseph Kohn, who worked with his father’s law firm. All four of the Kohn children are lawyers.
“Harold Kohn was a tremendous asset to the Philadelphia legal and charitable communities,” Barrack said. “This endowment is a fitting way to honor one of the great lawyers of the 20th century.”
Kohn was equally known for his civic and philanthropic efforts and generously supported the nation of Israel, leading efforts for the Allied Jewish Appeal and Jewish Federation. Kohn and his wife, Edith, established the Kohn Foundation, which has contributed to several educational causes including the establishment of the Morton Kohn Scholarship at The Fox School of Business and Management.
In addition to his Temple board membership, Kohn served as chairman of the Board of Governors of Temple University Hospital, and he held positions with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arronson and Lavine Foundations, the Federation of Jewish Agencies, the Philadelphia Geriatric Center, the Villanova Law School and Moss Rehabilitation Center.
Kohn earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the case editor of The University of Pennsylvania Law Review, president of the McKean Law Club and a member of the order of the Coif.
A reception celebrating the establishment of the Harold E. Kohn Chair in Law chair will be held Thursday, Oct. 7.
- By Laura Feragen