Lawyer-turned-author Marlene Trestman will speak about Bessie Margolin, the subject of her first book, Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin (LSU Press, 2016). Trestman will explore Margolin’s inspiring and improbable journey from New Orleans’s Jewish orphanage in which she was raised, through her trail-blazing legal career. The architect of the U.S. Labor Department’s Fair Labor Standards Act and later its Equal Pay Act enforcement, Margolin was a founder of the National Organization for Women and argued 24 times in the Supreme Court. Using archival photos and documents, Trestman’s presentation will explore the history of women in the law and at the Supreme Court in the mid-twentieth century, through Bessie Margolin’s life and career. Also drawing from her new book, Most Fortunate Unfortunates: The Jewish Orphans’ Home of New Orleans (LSU Press, October 2023), Trestman will highlight other notable Jewish Orphans’ Home alumni who shaped their communities as lawyers, law professors, and law enforcers in and beyond Louisiana.
Marlene Trestman was orphaned at age 11 and grew up in New Orleans in the Jewish Children’s Regional Service, the agency that formerly ran the orphanage in which Bessie Margolin was raised. Margolin inspired the future biographer, who would go on to write the first comprehensive history of the nation’s earliest purpose-built Jewish orphanage. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate and former trustee of Goucher College, Trestman received her law degree from George Washington University and her MBA from Loyola University of Maryland. For the last decade of Trestman’s thirty-year legal career with the Maryland Attorney General’s office, she served as Special Assistant to the Attorney General and was responsible for enforcing laws related to public health and consumer protection.
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