Two of the nation's great financial crises form the bookends of Milton Pollack's legal career. Pollack began his first phase of that career, as a SECURITIES lawyer, just two weeks before the 1929 STOCK MARKET crash. Sixty years later, as a federal district court judge, he used his knowledge and experience to resolve a multibillion-dollar disaster that was left when Drexel Burnham Lambert, a powerful Wall Street investment bank, collapsed into BANKRUPTCY. The lawsuits relating to Drexel were expected to drag on for decades, but under Pollack's guidance, they were resolved and completed in just over three years. Pollack considers the Drexel CLASS ACTION suit (In re Drexel, 960 F. 2d 285 [2d Cir. 1992]) and the resulting bankruptcy reorganization to be his "lifetime masterpieces."
Pollack was born September 29, 1906, in New York City. He attended Erasmus High School, and then Columbia College and Law School, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1927 and a doctor of JURISPRUDENCE degree in 1929. He was admitted to the New York bar in 1930. Pollack married Lillian Klein on December 18, 1932.
After graduation, Pollack joined the law firm of Gilman and Unger. By 1937, Gilman and Unger had become Unger and Pollack, and by 1943, Pollack had proved himself to be a force in both the legal and financial communities by winning a $4.5 million shareholder lawsuit against General Motors Corporation (Singer v. General Motors Corp., 136 F. 2d 905 [2d Cir. 1943]).
"IN THE DAYS BEFORE THE FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, TRIAL BY AMBUSH AND SECRECY WAS CONSIDERED NORMAL IN THE COURTS OF LAW."
In 1944, Pollack set out on his own. Over the next two decades, he established himself as an outstanding litigator.
On June 12, 1967, after almost 40 years as a practicing attorney, Pollack was appointed as U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York by President LYNDON B. JOHNSON. Pollack authored more than 150 opinions relating to securities-regulation matters and many other issues.
In 1983, Pollack took senior (or semiretired) status. As a senior judge, he played a prominent role in major Wall Street disputes in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including the trials of JUNK BOND salesmen Michael R. Milken and Ivan F. Boesky. When the Drexel bankruptcy occurred, Pollack's lifelong experience made him the logical choice to handle the resulting avalanche of complaints...