Jewish Lawyers Form Cardozo Society

May 13, 2002
Reprinted with permission of the Connecticut Law Tribune, May 13, 2002, by Thomas Scheffey

Ex-Solicitor General Waxman to be keynote

It’s an idea whose time has come. Just two months ago, a few lawyers within the Greater Hartford Jewish Federation began talking about the need for a professional group to share education, networking and cultural activity. Around the nation, cities like San Diego and Seattle have Benjamin N. Cardozo societies that do just that. They honor the former New York Court of Appeals judge who followed Louis Brandeis to be the second Jewish U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

As Daniel J. Klau put it, "The Jewish lawyer population in Hartford has the kind of critical mass to support this kind of an organization." He’s a partner in the Hartford offices of New Haven-based Wiggin & Dana, and is helping to organize the group’s inaugural event May 15, featuring an address by Seth P. Waxman, a West Hartford native who served as U.S. Solicitor General in the Clinton administration.

Cardozo Societies are normally affiliated with a regional Jewish federation, of which Connecticut has nine. But the greater Hartford federation is the first in the state to form a Cardozo Society. The group’s formal purpose, Klau said, is to strengthen relationships among Jewish lawyers in greater Hartford by promoting community service, education and leadership.

It’s not meant to be a substitute for state or local bar involvement, he said, but may be a way for young lawyers to begin to make their way in the profession, and more established lawyer to contribute to the community more broadly.

Furthermore, Klau said, the group plans to address Jewish perspectives on current legal matters on an informal basis, and foster "religious and cultural enrichment between Jewish lawyers and the public at large."

The honorary chair of the society is Arnold W. Aronson, judge trial referee and the co-chairs are Klau, Jerome E. Caplan and Eileen Seiger. Caplan is a partner in Hartford’s Rogin, Nassau Caplan Lassman & Hirtl and Seiger works inhouse for the Travelers Corp.

Cardozo’s is a particularly apt name for a group that aims to combine relevant social involvement with fine legal thinking. His legacy includes an expansion of the legal duty owed in tort law, expressed in the landmark New York case of MacPherson v. Buick, a seminal case for products liability. He also worked to undergird contract law with principles of fairness, changing a presumption of purely competitive behavior to one of mutually cooperative behavior, and making contract law more reasonable and practical.

Waxman, a partner in the Washington D.C. firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, held top posts from 1994 to 2001 in the Justice Department, with the last four of those years as the U.S. Solicitor General, where he argued the nation’s cases before its top court.