Harold Kohn, the Philadelphia lawyer who was the architect of the modern-day class action, is honored in memoriam through the Harold E. Kohn Lectureship. The inaugural lecture was delivered October 9, 2014 by Delaware Chief Justice Leo E. Strine, Jr. to mark the year of what would have been Kohn’s 100th birthday and was sponsored by Kohn’s eponymous chaired professorship.
Harold Kohn “brought many cases to protect ordinary people and their rights against government and big corporations,” remembers former Temple Dean Robert J. Reinstein. “He was a remarkable man.” Kohn became nationally famous for his innovative civil antitrust practice in the 1960s, famously (and successfully) suing firms ranging from electronics manufacturers to the timber industry. Kohn also helped to draft some of the federal court rules for class action cases and for the consolidation of cases. Known as the “grandfather of class actions,” Kohn also took on cases involving the First Amendment, privacy, zoning and commercial transactions. Known as a titan of the Philadelphia Bar, Kohn was a member of Temple’s Board of Trustees and a generous donor to the law school.
Len Barrack, Esq., LAW ’68, one of Harold Kohn’s many protégés and a long-time colleague, credits Kohn with teaching him how to be a great lawyer. He cites Kohn as one of the great lawyers of the 20th century. The Kohn Chair was jointly endowed by the Barrack Foundation and the Kohn Foundation, co-directed by Kohn’s widow, Edith Kohn, and his son, Joseph C. Kohn.
Kohn was devoted to many charitable causes. Apart from Temple’s Board of Trustees, he was chairman of the Board of Governors of Temple University Hospital, and was associated with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arronson and Lavine Foundations, the Federation of Jewish Agencies, the Philadelphia Geriatric Center, Villanova Law School and Moss Rehabilitation Center.