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Judge Louis H. Pollak ’48, Former YLS Dean, Dies at 89

U.S. District Judge Louis H. Pollak ’48, a former dean and 19-year faculty member at Yale Law School, died Tuesday, May 8, at his home in the West Mount Airy section of Philadelphia. He was 89. Judge Pollak, who in the early 50s helped work on the pivotal school-desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education, joined the Yale Law faculty in 1955 and remained until 1974, serving as dean from 1965 to 1970. His teaching and scholarship focused on constitutional law.

“Lou Pollak was one of the gems of the earth, and he will be deeply mourned by all who had the privilege and pleasure of knowing him,” said Yale Law School Dean Robert Post ’77. “He was a pre-eminent judge, a masterful scholar of constitutional law, a pillar of civil rights, and a magnificent, beloved human being.”

Judge Pollak was born in New York City in 1922, earned a B.A. from Harvard in 1943 and his law degree from Yale in 1948. After law school, he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Wiley B. Rutledge and later joined the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, served as special assistant to Ambassador-at-Large Philip C. Jessup, and was assistant counsel of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers. In 1955 he joined Yale Law School.

Upon leaving Yale in 1974, Judge Pollak joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and after a year there, he was named dean. He served until 1978, when he was appointed a judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. On becoming a judge, he retired from the full-time faculty at Penn Law but continued to teach a seminar as an adjunct professor.

Judge Pollak is survived by his wife, Katherine, daughters Nancy, Elizabeth, Susan, Sally, and Deborah, and eight grandchildren.

Read more about Judge Pollak in this Philadelphia Inquirer story.