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Sellinger School instructor awarded grant for biography of pioneering female, Jewish New Deal lawyer

June 11, 2012 | By Nick Alexopulos

Marlene Trestman, J.D., EMBA ’09, affiliate instructor at Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management, has been awarded a summer stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support her ongoing project to write the first biography of Bessie Margolin, a pioneering female, Jewish lawyer of the New Deal and a Supreme Court advocate.

The NEH Summer Stipends program provides awards for individuals to pursue scholarly work in the humanities during the summer. Trestman was also awarded a grant from the Hadassah Brandeis Institute in December 2011 to support her work on the biography of Margolin.

A portion of Trestman’s completed writing to date was published in the Journal of Supreme Court History in March 2012. In the article, Trestman writes that Margolin’s distinguished career is “all the more impressive considering her religion, gender, and humble origins.”

Margolin was raised in the New Orleans Jewish Orphans’ Home and received her law degree at age 21 from Tulane University, where she was civil law editor of the Tulane Law Review. In 1933, she became the first female attorney hired by the Tennessee Valley Authority, which was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation to provide electricity to poor rural areas. Margolin went on to serve in the Department of Labor for 33 years and oversaw the court enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Equal Pay Act during her tenure. Despite so many accomplishments, she had to fight for fair pay and well-deserved promotions in her own career. When she retired from the federal government in 1972, nearly 600 U.S. Supreme Court and appellate cases had been prepared under her immediate direction and review.

Trestman has a personal connection to Margolin; she was raised in New Orleans as a ward of the Jewish Children's Regional Service, the social service agency that succeeded the orphanage where Margolin was raised. The two also attended the same preparatory school a half-century apart. Trestman met Margolin in 1974 and the two remained close for more than 10 years.

Trestman is a special assistant to the attorney general of Maryland and a graduate of the George Washington University School of Law and Goucher College. She teaches a course on the legal and regulatory environment of business at the Sellinger School.

More information about Trestman and her biography of Bessie Margolin is available at www.marlenetrestman.com.

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