Just like old times: Dan Glickman and Michael Hausfeld
“Michael Hausfeld always raised his hand in class. It should come as no surprise that one of the nation’s top civil litigators was also a star in law school. But that was apparently not good enough. He also wore suits. Every day.
As a law school student, your friends were the people who were your schoolmates and, in our case, those whose last names were in closest proximity in the alphabet. Growing up a laid-back Midwestern boy from Kansas, I listened more than I talked, so I found out quickly which students were worth listening to. From day one, that student was Michael. The teachers loved to call on him. He was engaged, he asked questions, and when he was asked them in return, he had a responsive answer to everything. His intelligence was obvious, so I joined his study group.
At that time, we did not know what our futures would hold. We were in law school during the late 1960s—the height of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, and the most activist time in modern American history. In a sense, we were all activists. As law students in the ’60s, we were caught up in these societal ills, the vanguards of a social movement, and our goal was to figure out how to make the legal system better for all. It is a big difference from what is happening today, but that is what has accounted for both of our careers—mine in politics, and Michael’s in the kind of law he practices.
With his probing mind, I figured Michael would be successful at whatever he did. His passion lies in social justice. He was always on the side of the person who lacked basic access to the legal system, the vulnerable and downtrodden. As a result, he has been involved in several historic cases since graduation. He won a $1.5 billion settlement for Jewish families whose assets were wrongly retained by Swiss banks during World War II; he tackled abuses under apartheid law in South Africa; and he represented native Alaskans whose lives were forever changed by the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Most recently, he made news for representing retired NFL players—the guys who made the game great but who were left out in the cold during negotiations this summer.
I did not see Michael after law school. But last spring, his daughter, Wendi, became my assistant for The Politics of Food, a class I taught at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. I was happy to discover that she is a chip off the old block.”