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28.42 Linear Feet (104 boxes)
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Biographical / Historical
After leaving Yale Law School in 1957, Liman joined the firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York City. In 1961, he left the firm to become an assistant United States attorney under Robert M. Morgenthau and developed expertise in business law. Liman continued in the field of business law upon his return to Paul, Weiss in 1963, specializing in cases involving securities fraud and other white-collar crimes. According to newspaper accounts and tributes from his friends and colleagues, Liman was known for his thorough preparation and extraordinary commitment to his clients and was considered one of the best trial lawyers of his time. As a result, he attracted many powerful and well-known clients. Not shy of controversy, Liman represented junk bond merchant Michael Milken and corporate raider Carl Icahn. Adroit in corporate backrooms, he facilitated the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications.
Despite his success in private practice, Liman gained more notoriety as a result of his public assignments. Two appointments in particular defined his career. In 1972, he served as chief counsel of the New York State Special Commission on the Attica Prison uprising. The commission was charged with investigating the uprising at Attica State Prison in 1971 in which forty-three inmates and guards died. The commission's final report, which blamed prison conditions and state officials for the violence, was published in book form and nominated for a National Book Award. Liman's most widely-known assignment came in 1987 when he was appointed chief counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition (the Iran-Contra Committee). The committee held hearings to make public the details of the clandestine operation selling weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of hostages and directing the arms proceeds to rebels in Nicaragua. The hearings, especially his cross-examination of Colonel Oliver North, put Liman in the national spotlight. The attention was not easy to bear, however, as the committee received criticism both for being too hard and too soft on witnesses and for its inability to trace knowledge of the operation to President Ronald Reagan.
Liman's public service extended beyond Attica and Iran-Contra. Among his other assignments were a 1979 suit in which he represented New York City against subway car manufacturers, winning a $72 million award, and heading the 1985 investigation of the New York City medical examiner amid charges that the examiner had provided false autopsy reports. In addition, he was active in organizations working to provide legal representation to those who could not afford it otherwise, serving terms as president of the Legal Aid Society and chairman of the Legal Action Center.
Arthur Liman married Ellen Fogelson, a writer, painter, and interior decorator, in 1959. They had three children: Lewis, Emily, and Douglas.
Arthur Liman died on July 17, 1997, in New York City.
- Guide to the Arthur Liman Papers
- Under Revision
- compiled by Mike Strom
- June 2002
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository
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