Rabinowitz was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Rose (née Netter) and Louis M. Rabinowitz, a factory owner who had emigrated from Lithuania. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in 1931 and University of Michigan Law School with a JD in 1934.
Rabinowitz started his career in the firm of Louis B. Boudin, a labor lawyer, active in "radical politics."
He formed a new firm with Boudin's nephew Leonard Boudin: Rabinowitz and Boudin, currently Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, in New York City. Rabinowitz and Boudin were the senior partners, joined by Michael Standard, Michael Krinsky, and Eric Lieberman. (Krinsky and Lieberman remain senior attorneys to the present.) The firm's papers, held by the Tamiment Library of New York University, describes it as follows:
The firm represented numerous labor unions, most notably the American Communications Association, and assisted clients in passport cases, loss of employment and other legal matters arising from the targeting of individuals in government security investigations. The firm has been deeply involved in civil rights work and, during the Vietnam War, successfully defended, on First Amendment grounds, some of the leading opponents of the war, as well as draft resisters and conscientious objectors.
Clients have included: Julian Bond, Paul Robeson, Alger Hiss, Benjamin Spock, Daniel Ellsberg, Dashiell Hammett, the Church of Scientology, and Jimmy Hoffa. It has also represented the government of Chile under Salvador Allende, and the Cuban government since June 1960 and has been Cuba's only U.S. legal counsel in all U.S.-related matters. Other clients included: Rockwell Kent, other unions, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and other non-union organizations.
In 1963, when daughter Joni Rabinowitz was convicted of perjury regarding work for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he won her release on the grounds that the jury under-represented a local black population.
In 1937, Rabinowitz helped found the National Lawyers Guild in 1937 and served as its national president (1967–1970).
Personal and death
Rabinowitz was married twice, first to the former Marcia Goldberg of Brooklyn, New York, and following their divorce in 1967, he married filmmaker, journalist and author Joanne Grant Rabinowitz (1930–2005).
He died at his Manhattan home on November 16, 2007.
- Unrepentant Leftist (1996)
- Salvador Allende
- Julian Bond
- Daniel Ellsberg
- Dashiell Hammett
- Alger Hiss
- Jimmy Hoffa
- Rockwell Kent
- Paul Robeson
- Benjamin Spock
- American Communications Association
- Fellowship of Reconciliation
- Church of Scientology
- Martin, Douglas (20 Nov 2007). "Victor Rabinowitz, 96, Leftist Lawyer, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
- "About the Firm". Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, P.C. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
- "Guide to the Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky and Lieberman Legal Files TAM.287". New York University. April 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
- "Attorneys". Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, P.C. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
- Rabinowitz, Victor (1996). Unrepentant Leftist: A Lawyer’s Memoir. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02253-1.
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