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Oral history interview with Bernard Jolles
- 1990-09-27 - 1991-04-22 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet 8 audiocassettes (7 hr., 32 min., 40 sec.)
Name of creator
Bernard Jolles was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1928. He served in the U.S. Navy briefly just after the end of World War II, from 1946 to 1947, and then attended New York University, graduating in 1951. He met Lenore Madison while at N.Y.U. and they were married in 1953; they had later four children and divorced in 1983. Jolles was involved in the Communist Party, but left in 1956. In 1957, he relocated to Oregon, where he studied at the Northwestern College of Law in Portland, earning his degree in 1961. He was rejected by the Oregon Bar due to his communist ties, but that decision was overturned by the Oregon Supreme Court, and he was admitted in 1963. He became an attorney in Portland and started his own law firm, Jolles, Sokol, & Bernstein, in 1979. He served on the board of governors for the Oregon State Bar from 1984 to 1986 and served as president from 1986 to 1987. In 1985, Jolles and Susan Walker were married. Since 2007 he has practiced as a civil rights and personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Bernard Jolles in Portland.
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This oral history interview with Bernard Jolles was conducted by Robert D. Bulkley, Jr. at Jolles' office in Portland, Oregon, from September 27, 1990, to April 22, 1991. In this interview, Jolles discusses his family background and early life in New York, including his Jewish upbringing and facing antisemitism; his education; and the Depression. He describes attending New York University and his growing interest in Marxism. He then discusses working in the New York Garment District and at the waterfront after graduation, and talks about his involvement with various unions. He describes being a communist during the height of the McCarthy era, as well as his reasons for leaving the Communist Party in 1956. Jolles discusses relocating to Oregon in 1957 and attending the Northwestern College of Law in Portland. He talks about working as an investigator for a personal injury lawyer after graduation and the trouble he had passing the bar exam due to his communist ties. He discusses his appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court of the Bar's decision to reject him.
Jolles discusses his career as a trial lawyer in Portland, including arguing cases before the federal and state courts, working with other lawyers, and some of the cases he tried. He briefly describes Judge Gus Solomon and other judges he argued before. He also discusses the types of cases he took, particularly those representing workers and labor unions. He talks about his own law firm, Jolles, Sokol, & Bernstein, formed in 1979; the changes in the profession over the decades; and his involvement with the A.C.L.U. and the Christic Institute. He closes the interview by talking about his involvement with the Oregon State Bar, including serving on the board of governors and as president.
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Joint copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society and the U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society. Use of this interview is allowed according to the following statement: In Copyright – Educational Use Permitted: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-EDU/1.0/
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Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Bernard Jolles, by Robert D. Bulkley, Jr., SR 1204, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the United States District Court Oral History Project.
Incomplete transcript (202 pages) and handwritten index (9 pages) are available for in-person use at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
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Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.