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Friendly, Henry Jacob


FRIENDLY, HENRY JACOB (1903–1986), U.S. judge. Considered by lawyers, judges, and legal scholars as one of the ablest lawyers of his generation and the preeminent federal appellate judge of his time, Friendly made a legendary record as a student at Harvard Law School. He became law clerk to Justice Louis D. Brandeis. He turned down an offer to teach at Harvard Law School and joined the prestigious law firm of Root, Clark, Buckner, and Ballantine, of which he became a partner in 1937. In 1946 he formed his own law firm; he was vice president, director, and general counsel of Pan-American Airways System. Thus, for over 30 years he was in private law practice with no involvement in public activities. In 1959 he was appointed judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in which he served until his death in March 1986. In the estimation of the legal profession, Friendly deserved to be coupled with Learned Hand for judicial competence and eminence. Felix Frankfurter in 1963 considered him the best judge writing judicial opinions. Professor Paul Freund wrote that Friendly "combined massive documentation and sharply critical, often astringent, analysis with invariably constructive, or reconstructive, proposals." He was especially expert in administrative law, federal jurisdiction, criminal procedure, trademark, railroad, and commercial law. He was chief judge of his court for two years, and from 1974 to the time of his death he was also presiding judge of the special court set up by an act of Congress on railroad reorganization.

Judge Friendly served on the Council of the American Law Institute, on the board of overseers of Harvard University, and was the author of several books, including Benchmarks (1967) and Federal Jurisdiction: a General View (1973). In 1977 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in the following year the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Award in Law.


Harvard Law Review 99 (1986); K. Johnson, N.Y. Times (June 10, 1986).

[Milton Ridvas Konvitz]

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