Edgar S. Cahn

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Edgar S. Cahn is an American distinguished legal professor, former counsel and speech writer to Robert F. Kennedy, and the creator of TimeBanking.[1] He co-founded the Antioch School of Law (now the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia) with his late wife, Jean Camper Cahn.[2][3] Cahn has also held positions at the University of Miami School of Law, Florida International University, the London School of Economics, and a Visiting Fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University.[4]

Cahn currently devotes most of his professional effort to his role as the CEO of TimeBanks USA, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization he established in 1995.

Early career[edit]

Kennedy and Johnson Administrations[edit]

Shortly after graduating from Yale Law School in 1963, Cahn started his career in government as special counsel and speechwriter for Attorney General Robert Kennedy under President John Kennedy. He wrote Robert Kennedy's 1964 University of Chicago Law Day address.[5] In 1964, he served as the Executive Assistant to Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., focusing his efforts on issues related to poverty and hunger under the newly created Office of Economic Opportunity. That same year, Cahn and his (late) wife Jean Camper Cahn co-authored an article in the Yale Law Journal, "The War on Poverty: a Civilian Perspective".[2][6] This formed the basis for the establishment of the Legal Services Corporation.[2][3][7][6]

Citizens Advocate Center[edit]

Cahn left government work in 1968 to focus his efforts more exclusively on defending the rights of Native Americans. Cahn established the Citizens Advocate Center as a watchdog organization to "monitor governmental programs and assure equitable treatment of all community organizations in their dealing with the government."[8] The Citizens Advocate Center published Our Brother's Keeper, the Indian in White America in collaboration with leading Native American rights activists in 1969.[8] Such efforts helped catalyze the adoption of policies increasing the level of self-determination of Native American populations.[9] By the 1970s, the organization had adopted a broader mission of "function(ing) as a watchdog of federal grant-making agencies having significant impact on low-income citizens...and (increasing) the effectiveness and responsiveness of the administrative process, including the administration of federal housing programs."[10] [11]

The Antioch School of Law[edit]

In keeping with their belief that the legal system should be used as an instrument for promoting social justice, Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn co-founded the Antioch School of Law, a subunit within a network of institutions run by Antioch University. As law-school deans, Edgar and Jean pioneered clinical legal education in the United States, incorporating clinical experience into a curriculum that included the traditional case study method for the first time.[12]

When financial distress at Antioch University forced it to close several of its subunits in the late 1980s,[13][14] the Council of the District of Columbia bought the school, renaming it the District of Columbia Law School, preserving the law school's faculty and curriculum[14][15] The new law school was awarded provisional American Bar Association accreditation in 1991[16] and incorporated into the University of the District of Columbia in 1996. Two years later, the institution was renamed in honor of David A. Clarke, a former city council chairman who had been particularly supportive of the school and its mission. The David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia was awarded full ABA accreditation in 2005.[17]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Hunger, U.S.A.: a report with an introductory comment by Robert F. Kennedy. Citizens' Board of Inquiry into Hunger and Malnutrition in the United States. Boston:Beacon Press, 1968. OCLC 000433081
  • (with Jean Camper Cahn) Making Equal Justice Under Law a Reality: The Role of the Lawyer as Volunteer. Harriet Lowenstein Goldstein series: The volunteer in America 4; Florence Heller Graduate School for Advanced Studies in Social Welfare Papers in social welfare. Waltham, Massachusetts: Brandeis University, Florence Heller Graduate School for Advanced Studies in Social Welfare, 1968. OCLC 8622352
  • (editor) Our Brother's Keeper: The Indian in White America. Washington, New Community Press, 1969. OCLC 45773
  • (editor with Barry A. Passett) Citizen participation : a case book in democracy. Trenton, New Jersey: New Jersey Community Action Training Institute, 1969. OCLC 006162199
  • (with Timothy Eichenberg & Roberta V. Romberg) The legal lawbreakers : a study of the nonadministration of Federal relocation requirements. Washington : Citizens Advocate Center, 1970 OCLC 019446142
  • (editor with Barry A. Passett) Citizen Participation: Effecting Community Change. Praeger special studies in U.S. economic and social development. New York: Praeger, 1971. OCLC 141360
  • (with Jonathan Rowe) Time Dollars: The New Currency that Enables Americans to Turn Their Hidden Resource - Time - into Personal Security & Community Renewal. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale, 1992. ISBN 9780878579853
  • No More Throwaway People: The Coproduction Imperative. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 2000. OCLC 044397909


  1. ^ Collom, Ed (2012). Equal Time, Equal Value. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Limited. pp. 9–11. ISBN 9781409449041.
  2. ^ a b c Newman, Roger (2009). The Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law. Yale University Press. pp. 90–91. ISBN 0300113005.
  3. ^ a b Waldman, Steven (August 18, 1991). "Portrait of a Marriage: The brilliant, angry careers of Jean and Edgar Cahn". Washington Post Sunday Magazine.
  4. ^ "Edgar Cahn". Ashoka U.S. Fellows. Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Archived from the original on 2012-10-14. Retrieved 2013-04-07.
  5. ^ Shepard, Kris (2009). Rationing Justice: Poverty Lawyers and Poor People in the Deep South. Making the Modern South. LSU Press. p. 1. ISBN 9780807134160.
  6. ^ a b "A Tribute to Jean Camper Cahn". Yale Law & Policy Review. 1991. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  7. ^ "The Founding of LSC". History. The Legal Services Corporation. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Cahn, Edgar (1969). Our Brother's Keeper: The Indian in White America. Washington, DC: New Community Press, Inc. p. iv. ISBN 0452007062.
  9. ^ Benedict, Jeff (2001). Without Reservation: How a Controversial Indian Tribe Rose to Power and Built the World's Largest Casino. New York, NY: Harper Collins. pp. 6–14. ISBN 0060931965.
  10. ^ Dorothy Gautaux, et al vs. George W. Romney, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development of the United States, Brief of Amici Curiae in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, 3 (United States District Court, Northern District Court of Illinois, Eastern Division 1970).
  11. ^ Cahn, Edgar; Eichenberg, Timothy; Romberg, Roberta V. (1971). The legal lawbreakers : a study of the nonadministration of Federal relocation requirements. Washington, DC: Citizen Advocate Center. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  12. ^ Associated Press, "School Centers on Law Firm", Reading Eagle, July 19, 1973, p. 30.
  13. ^ Coakley, Michael B. (June 25, 1988). "Antioch Branch To Close; Financial Problems Cited". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  14. ^ a b "DC Committee Approves Plan to Buy Antioch School of Law". Toledo Blade. Washington, DC. Associated Press. July 1, 1986. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  15. ^ "Three Law Schools in Transition". American Bar Association Journal: 49. October 1, 1986. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  16. ^ "ABA-Approved Law Schools by Year". Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. American Bar Association. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  17. ^ "School of Law History". David A. Clarke School of Law. University of the District of Columbia. Retrieved 7 April 2013.

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