Monroe H. Freedman

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Monroe Henry Freedman (April 10, 1928 – February 26, 2015) was a Professor of Law and the former Dean at Hofstra Law School.[1] He lectured at Harvard Law School annually for 30 years, and was a visiting professor at Georgetown Law School from 2007 to 2012. He has been described as "a pioneer in the field of legal ethics"[2] and "one of the nation's leading experts on legal ethics."[3]

Prior to becoming Dean at Hofstra Law School, at the end of the 1979-1980 academic year, Freedman taught at The George Washington University Law School.[4] He taught Contracts every year, beginning in the 1960-l961 academic year, and Appellate Practice & Procedure, beginning in the 1962-1963 academic year, along with other occasional courses including Current Decisions (for Law Review members), Equity, Agency, and Federal Jurisdiction.[5] During the 1960s, he encouraged many women to attend law school, based on the idea that the law school would benefit from having more women in the student body.[6] One effectual way Professor Freedman taught ethics was to point out and discuss ethical issues that arose in cases already under discussion from the contracts textbook.

Freedman is noted for criticism of restrictions on lawyer advertising, restrictions on trial publicity by defendants and defense attorneys. He has argued that lawyers should be permitted to reveal information necessary to prevent death or serious bodily harm, that law professors' sexual relations with students should be recognized as unethical conduct, and that the lawyer's decision to represent a client is a moral decision.[citation needed]

During the 1960s, Freedman served as chair of the National Capital Area American Civil Liberties Union,[7] was counsel to several civil rights organizations, and was a consultant to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. He was volunteer general counsel of the Mattachine Society. He was the first executive director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.[1]

Freedman has received many awards and honors, including the American Bar Association's Michael Franck Award for Professional Responsibility in 1998.[8]


Freedman was born in Mount Vernon, New York, the son of Dorothea (Kornblum) and Chauncey Freedman.[9][10] He attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School, receiving an A.B. cum laude in 1951, an LL.B. in 1954, and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School in 1956.


Freedman's first ethics book, Lawyers' Ethics in an Adversary System, was published in 1975 and received the ABA's Gavel Award Certificate of Merit. It received a number of favorable reviews; in the Harvard Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Law Review, NYU professor Norman Dorsen called the book one of the few "monumental contributions to legal education in the past generation."[citation needed]

Understanding Lawyers' Ethics, first published in 1990, is required or recommended reading in many law schools. The ABA journal The Professional Lawyer called the book "thoughtful and eloquent" and "idealistic in the best sense of the word, pragmatic, but not cynical, and rich with practical examples."[citation needed]

Among his many articles on lawyers' ethics is "The Professional Responsibility of the Criminal Defense Lawyer: The Three Hardest Questions" (1966),[11] about which William H. Simon wrote: "Suppose you had to pick the two most influential events in the recent emergence of ethics as a subject of serious reflection by the bar. Most likely, you would name the Watergate affair of 1974 and the appearance [in 1966] of an article by Monroe Freedman."[12] That article provoked controversy because of Freedman's emphasis on the criminal defense lawyer's central duty to serve as an advocate for the client, even when the lawyer believes the client may intend to lie on the witness stand. Warren E. Burger, then chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and later Chief Justice of the United States, was so unhappy with Freedman's position that he unsuccessfully initiated disbarment proceedings.[7] [13]

Personal life and death[edit]

Freedman died on February 26, 2015, aged 86.[14] The cause of death was chronic lymphocytic lymphoma. His wife, economist Audrey Willock Freedman, had died in 1998. They had four children, two of whom survived him.[7] Abbe Smith eulogized him.[15]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Dean Jerome A. Barron, A Short History of the George Washington University Law School. 78-79
  5. ^ information from Bulletins in the Library, provided by Strategic Communications and Marketing office at the George Washington Law School
  6. ^ Barron, 69-70
  7. ^ a b c Matt Schudel, "Monroe H. Freedman, scholar of legal ethics and civil liberties, dies at 86", The Washington Post, February 28, 2015.
  8. ^ "Past Michael Franck Award Recipients", American Bar Association (accessed 2013-3-19).
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ Monroe Freedman, "The Professional Responsibility of the Criminal Defense Lawyer: The Three Hardest Questions", Michigan Law Review, vol. 64, p. 1469 (1966).
  12. ^ William Simon, "'Thinking Like a Lawyer' About Ethical Questions", 27 Hofstra L. Rev 1 (1998).
  13. ^ Ralph J. Temple. "Monroe Freedman and Legal Ethics: A Prophet in His Own Time", The Journal of the Legal Profession vol. 13, pp. 233, 235 (1988).
  14. ^ "The Passing of Prof. Monroe H. Freedman, Hofstra Law’s 2nd Dean", Maurice A. Deane School of Law, February 26, 2015.
  15. ^ Woolley, Alice. "Eulogy for Monroe Freedman". Retrieved 25 March 2015.

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