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Stephen Glasser, co-founder of Legal Times newspaper, dies at 79

Stephen A. Glasser, who trained as a lawyer but found greater satisfaction in shaping the legal profession as an editor and businessman, partnered with his wife in 1978 to found the Legal Times, a small but influential newspaper that helped demystify a traditionally secretive industry. and insular. , he died on August 25 at a Manhattan hospital. Hey what 79.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his daughter Susan Glasser, a staff writer for the New Yorker and former editor of The Washington Post.

When Mr. Glasser started Legal Times in Washington with his wife, Lynn, knowledge of the legal profession was generally limited to “anyone who saw ‘Perry Mason,'” said William J. Perlstein, an FTI Consulting executive and former co-director. partner in the law firm Wilmer Hale. Stephen and Lynn Glasser “transformed the understanding of law in America,” he added, by founding a newspaper that “really brought law firms and lawyers to life.”

Backed by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich publishing house, where Glasser had run a business and law division, the weekly tabloid reported on everything from Treasury Department regulations to energy, securities and environmental laws. The paper had a Washington focus that was reflected in its original name, the Legal Times of Washington, though its editors technically lived in Montclair, New Jersey, and traveled to the publication’s Dupont Circle offices each week via shuttle service. of Eastern Airlines.

For the senior editor job, the Glassers hired David Beckwith, a Time magazine reporter who had single-handedly won the US Supreme Court. roe v. calf decision. Later hires included reporter Kim Masters, now managing editor of the Hollywood Reporter.

“Before Legal Times, there had never been an independent general interest trade publication that promised an objective outside look at lawyers, particularly large firms operating in major cities,” Beckwith wrote in an email. He added that Mr. Glasser and his wife saw an opportunity after a 1977 Supreme Court decision upholding lawyers’ rights to advertise their services, and after the American Bar Association also loosened its own advertising rules.

The timing seemed especially right under the Carter administration, which passed “a torrent of new federal business regulations,” he said, “making Washington corporate lawyers even more important than ever.”

Mr. Glasser had aspired to a journalism career in college, spending summers working on newspapers in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Detroit before his family insisted he go to law school. As editor, he maintained a constant and indefatigable presence in the office even as his paper “scared, amused and generated howls of outrage among the corporate law community,” Beckwith said.

The Legal Times was especially known for a gossip column called Inadmissible, which was originated by Mr. Glasser and chronicled courtroom failures, law firm explosions, and industry weaknesses, much to the irritation of subjects like the signature of Washington Wilkes Artis. “A lot of people in our place would like to hang them,” one of the firm’s lawyers told The Post in 1979, after the Legal Times reported an internal split at the firm.

The paper competed for readers and advertisers with two other national legal publications that debuted in its wake: the American Lawyer, which was founded by publisher Steven Brill, and the weekly National Law Journal, a sister to the much older New York Law Journal. All three came under the control of Brill, who bought the Legal Times in 1986 for between $2 million and $4 million. By then the paper had a circulation of some 6,000 copies and was shunned by its competitors, The Post reported at the time.

The newspaper merged with the National Law Journal in 2009. By then legal news sources had proliferated, with websites and blogs including Above the Law, Volokh Conspiracy and SCOTUSblog offering information previously only available through newspapers. as Legal Times.

“It’s only a magnitude of a hundred of what was available before we started,” Beckwith said in a telephone interview. “I think we were kind of the door openers.” He recalled that when he started the newspaper, he and his staff had trouble getting basic information from law firms, including details about the number of lawyers they employed or who ran his litigation department. But “within a few months, they were giving what would have caused an aneurysm to share.”

The oldest of three children, Stephen Andrew Glasser, was born in Memphis on July 27, 1943. His mother, the former Esther Kron, was a social worker. His father, Melvin A. Glasser, oversaw medical field trials of Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine and later served as an official for the United Auto Workers union and the Health Security Action Council in Washington.

His father’s career took the family to Arlington, Virginia, and then to Rye, NY, where Mr. Glasser graduated from high school. He studied political science at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1965, the same year he married Lynn Schreiber. She supported him through law school, working one day while he attended the University of Michigan.

After graduating in 1968, he practiced law for only a few months, working as a lawyer at the Department of Labor in Washington, before going into business with his wife and moving to Montclair. Together, they worked at the New York Law Journal, where Mr. Glasser became Executive Vice President and Executive Editor, and then at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, publishing legal newsletters and books by James C. Freund, a leading mergers and acquisitions attorney. and Bruce W. Sanford, First Amendment specialist.

In 1995, they started a new company, Glasser LegalWorks, which hosted legal conferences and management forums. The company was sold to FindLaw, a subsidiary of the Thomson media conglomerate, in 2003.

Mr. Glasser was still working in recent years, hosting conferences and continuing education programs through his latest company, Sandpiper Partners. He also helped found a hospice in Glen Ridge, NJ, and worked in higher education, serving on the advisory board of the Montclair State University School of Communications and as a trustee and past chairman of the board of Bloomfield College, an institution predominantly African American in New Jersey.

In addition to his daughter Susan, of Washington, survivors include his wife, Lynn, of Montclair, and three other children: Laura Glasser, a former television writer who worked on “The West Wing,” of South Pasadena, California; Jeffrey Glasser, Vice President and General Counsel of the Los Angeles Times; and Jennifer Glasser, a partner at the law firm White & Case, Scarsdale, NY Survivors also include two sisters and seven grandchildren.

“It says something about my father’s influence on all of us that of his four children, two are writers and two are lawyers,” said Susan Glasser, who dedicated her forthcoming book “The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021” . partly to his father. (The book was written with her husband, New York Times reporter Peter Baker, and is also dedicated to her father, Ted.)

In a telephone interview, he described Mr. Glasser as a voracious reader who “understood the value of original and reliable information,” saying he was focused on “news and scoops” as both an editor and a subscriber to three daily newspapers. “If you want people to pay for information, it has to have value to them,” he said. “That turned out to be a very useful idea for transformations in journalism that he could not have imagined when he started his career.”


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