Floyd Abrams – first amendment litigator

5 minutes with... Floyds Abrams

Floyd AbramsStarting out, what did you expect from a career in the law?

I had been undecided about whether to obtain a PhD in American History and then teach or to go to law school and then see what happened. Fortunately for me, I chose the latter path.

What do you consider to have been your big break?

Being retained in the middle of the night to serve as co-counsel to The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case.

What differences do you see in today’s legal market compared to when you started?

Much larger firms; much more structure; much more competition for legal business; some lessening of lawyers viewing themselves as being a part of a profession rather than one of many service businesses.

"Atticus Finch was as good as any lawyer I've ever seen in court."

What (legal) achievement are you most proud of?

Helping to establish, via arguments in the Supreme Court and lower courts, significantly augmented First Amendment protection.

What do you consider your greatest failure or regret?

While I can’t think of any cases that we lost that I would have won by changing tactics or approach, I still awaken some days thinking of the lost ones.

What law would you want to change, abolish or create?

The ruling in Bush v Gore.

Who is your legal hero?  

Atticus Finch was as good as any lawyer I've ever seen in court.

What career would you have in your second life?

The same as in my first life.