|The mementos crowding Fred Fishmans
office walls document many chapters of his prolific life
in the law. "Its easy to tell where my
loyalties lie," says Fishman 48, former
partner of Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler,
LLP, where he practiced beginning in late 1961 until his
retirement in 1993.
Three group shots recall the camaraderie Fishman enjoyed on the Harvard Law Review. A close-up of Justice Felix Frankfurter 06 bears this handwritten message to his former law clerk: "in memory of our happy labors together during the October Term, 1949 . . ." Another photo shows Fishman at a celebration dinner of leaders of The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, which he served as treasurer, executive committee member, and chair of committees on federal legislation and corporation law (he also cochaired the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law from 1983 to 1985, and was a director of The Legal Aid Society from 1991 to 1994). A framed cover of the Harvard Law Bulletin depicts a beaming Fishman, Harvard Law School Association president from 1986 to 1988, at an HLSA centennial celebration.
Fred Fishman grew up in Brooklyn and attended public schools. His parents, who did not finish high school, encouraged their only child to apply to Harvard College. A member of the Class of 1946 there, he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1944, under wartime acceleration, and in 1945 embarked on a year of postgraduate work at Yale before applying to law school.
At postwar HLS, "with its many vintages of students," Fishman relished the classroom enterprise of "stripping away preconceptions and emotional reactions as we tried to get to the heart of issues, to frame arguments for different points of view, and to consider how the outcome served the law and society." His professorsFuller, Seavey, Freund, Hart, Cox, Scott, Morgan, Katz, Kaplan, Brown, and otherswere "demanding but committed to helping students get on with their lives and careers."
During his first HLS term, Fishman met Claire Powsner, a Radcliffe student and his future wife.
After graduating magna cum laude, Fishman clerked for Chief Judge Calvert Magruder, U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit. The following year he clerked for Frankfurter, along with his classmate Albert M. Sacks 48, future HLS dean.
In 1950 Fishman became an associate at what is now Dewey Ballantine. In 1957 he joined Freeport Minerals Company, a natural resources company, concentrating on foreign and governmental work. Returning to private practice, at Kaye, Scholer, the new partner focused on general corporate, mergers and acquisitions, and financing work for leading financial services, telecommunications, and natural resources companies. He ultimately headed the firm as chair of the executive committee.
Harvard has long benefited from Fishmans famous energy. He served for 12 years on the Overseers Committee to Visit the Law School and has served on several other Harvard Overseers Committees. He led the fundraising for his HLS Class of 1948s 25th and 45th Reunions, which set records in anniversary giving. From 1977 to 1979, he chaired the Harvard Law School Fund, which flourished under his stewardship. Fishman also served on the steering committee for The Campaign for Harvard Law School, from 1991 to 1995. His gifts to the School include the handsome Claire P. and Fred N. Fishman Legal Periodicals Room in Langdell and the Arthur E. and Frederica G. Fishman Library Fund in honor of his parents.
At the Law School, Fishman found "that what counted was what you were, not who you were the intrinsic, as Felix Frankfurter put it." The loyal graduate says that for this reason and others, he shares his old bosss "quasi-religious feeling about the Harvard Law School."