Second Interview – February 5, 2010
This interview is being conducted on behalf of the Oral History Project of the Historical
Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. The interviewee is James J. Sandman. The
interviewer is Paras N. Shah. The interview is taking place at Mr. Sandman’s office at 825 North
Capitol Street, N.E., Washington, D.C., on February 5, 2010, beginning at 8:30 in the morning.
This is our second interview session.
MR. SHAH: Jim, the last time we spoke we were talking about the civil rights
movement and its effect on you. Would you like to speak more about
MR. SANDMAN: Yes, one thing I recall of the civil rights movement of the 1960s was the
importance of the role that the law played in advancing civil rights. And
that was something I was conscious of when I later made the decision to
go to law school—the influence that law could have on accomplishing
positive social change. Related to that, I do recall the 1960s and the civil
rights era as being a time when people were attracted to public service. To
me, I attribute that to John Kennedy. I don’t know if it’s an Irish Catholic
thing, but Kennedy made public service look very attractive and he
brought people to it that I don’t know would otherwise have gone in to
public service. It was a combination of the Peace Corps, the Justice
Department, and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, and
that too was something that ultimately affected my decision to go to law
school. It wasn’t that I was certain that I wanted to be a lawyer, but I
thought that a law degree would be a useful thing to have for a number of
career options that I was considering, public service being one of them
MR. SHAH: And Jim, just staying with your high school years, were there any outside
interests that you had in high school, any extra curriculars that you were
particularly involved in?
MR. SANDMAN: The most important one to me was the school newspaper. I took
journalism in my senior year, and if you took journalism, you were
automatically on the staff of the student newspaper. Journalism was
taught by Sister Mary Carmel, who was a memorable character. She was
a very effective teacher of writing, particularly clear and concise writing.
I worked on page 1, the news page of the newspaper, and clarity, facts—
not opinion—were her watch words in writing for page 1. I did, in my
work on the school newspaper, cover in late-October 1968 a visit by thenpresidential
candidate, Richard Nixon to Albany. And we were able to get
press passes. I met Nixon’s planes at the Albany airport, rode the press
bus from the airport to the state capitol, where he spoke on the steps, and I
met him there. Our story didn’t come out until after the election, by which
point he was President-Elect. I was involved in other activities like the
yearbook. My kids give me grief because my high school yearbook says I
was in the science club, which I really don’t recall. I have no science
aptitude at all. I can’t imagine how that happened (laughter). I also
volunteered at a place called Providence House, which I think I mentioned
in my last interview, which had after-school activities in a poorer section
of Albany.
MR. SHAH: Did you ever consider going into journalism or being a writer?
MR. SANDMAN: I didn’t really. I like writing, but the idea of making a career of it was
something that I never thought seriously about. I think it’s a very hard
way to make a living.
MR. SHAH: And just about you getting to see Richard Nixon, did you have any
impressions of him then as you saw him in high school?
MR. SANDMAN: He was more personable than I would have expected. I took a photograph
of him at the time, and he looked right into the camera. That was probably
because he was a very accomplished campaigner and knew how to take a
good picture. I can’t recall anything of what he said. I was for Hubert
Humphrey and he probably benefitted from low expectations. It was also
just very exciting to be treated at a member of the press as high school
seniors. So the occasion was exciting even if he wasn’t my candidate.
MR. SHAH: What else from those high school years stands out for you? Were there
any books or films that you experienced during those years that impacted
your thinking or shaped your thinking on certain topics?
MR. SANDMAN: I read a lot. I read history, particularly recent history. I would read—I
read the whole Making of the President series, 1960, 1964, 1968, by
Theodore H. White. Most of the things that I read were non-fiction,
political, historical in nature. I recall vividly reading In Cold Blood by
Truman Capote when it came out. I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X
in my senior year in high school, which was an eye-opener for me. I read
the usual high school things like Catcher in the Rye. I read Catch 22. I
had an English teacher in my senior year who exposed us in a Catholic
school to a lot of literature that in a public school would have been banned
(laughter). I think our parents didn’t know quite – they weren’t familiar
with some of what we were reading. If they had been, they might not have
been happy with it, but he was very liberal and thought it was important
that we be exposed to what he thought was the best literature of the time.
I read John Steinbeck. I really liked Travels with Charlie, a book that he
wrote that was non-fiction. It was book that he wrote about a crosscountry
trip he took with his dog, Charlie, and that motivated me later to
want to do a cross country trip by car of my own, which I did. Movies?
The movies that I recall most were sort of the social statement movies of
the era. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? with Katherine Hepburn and
Sidney Poitier, I remember; A Patch of Blue, another Sidney Poitier
movie. I remember the 1968 or 1969 version of Romeo and Juliet. I
never saw Bonnie and Clyde, or some of the iconic movies of the late
1960s, or Easy Rider. Those are the principal movies that I recall.
MR. SHAH: You mentioned an English teacher. Were there other teachers that you
want to talk about today?
MR. SANDMAN: My English teachers were the ones that I remember best. My sophomore
English teacher, Brother David Lazot, also had us reading interesting
things, like poetry. He also used the songs of Simon and Garfunkel as
poetry—I think to show us how cool he was, that he was aware of Simon
and Garfunkel. I had a Latin teacher in my freshman year in high school,
Brother Regis, who was very rigorous, very big on surprise quizzes. But
he was an excellent teacher, and I got a lot more out of first- year Latin
than I did out of second-year Latin taught by someone else. I remember
my chemistry teacher only because of how little chemistry I learned. The
one thing I remember from him was he would say – in chemistry lab,
inevitably, almost every time, some kid would burn himself by touching
hot glass and would be screaming in pain and—Brother Peter Cleary was
his name—and he would be totally unsympathetic. And every time it
happened, he would say the same thing. He would say, “Gentlemen, hot
glass looks just like cold glass” (laughter). His point was don’t touch
glass without using a mitt, you may think it’s cold but it may be hot. I had
a history teacher, Brother Leo, in my junior year who I thought was a very
good teacher. He taught American history. I had a world history teacher
in my sophomore year, Brother John Davies—he was called “pinhead”
because he had a bald and very pointed head (laughter). His homeroom
was known as the “Pinderosa” which was a pun on the “Ponderosa,” the
ranch in the famous TV series, Bonanza. There were a lot a pinhead jokes
in high school. I had two women lay teachers for math—one for geometry
in sophomore year and one for calculus in senior year—who were both
very good, very effective teachers. And I had a biology teacher,
Mr. Larson, in my sophomore year who I think was evading the draft
(laughter) by teaching, but he was also very good. I got a good education.
The standards were high. There wasn’t really grade inflation. We took, in
major courses, New York state regent exams, which were standardized
tests based on state-wide curriculum. I worked hard in high school.
MR. SHAH: Did you keep in contact with any of these teachers after high school?
MR. SANDMAN: I kept in touch with Sister Carmel for many years. Occasionally, I had
some contact with Pinhead (laughter). The others, I didn’t really. The
brothers have often moved on, they didn’t necessarily stay in the same
high school for very long. Sister Carmel was the one I stayed in touch
with for the longest.
MR. SHAH: During our last session you talked about a trip to Europe that you took
during high school. Was this your first time abroad and do you want to
talk about that trip a little bit?
MR. SANDMAN: My parents had taken us to Bermuda in the summer of 1967, but, except
for that, it was my first trip abroad. Oh, it was just a completely different
era in terms of travel. It was a big deal to go abroad. It was still a pretty
big deal to fly. I’d never been on an airplane until I was 16 years old, and
that was the trip to Bermuda. Europe was very far away. It was difficult
to keep in touch while we were over there. There was no internet, there
was nothing like CNN. You didn’t have televisions in the cheap hotels we
stayed in. There was nothing – there was no international – there was an
International Herald Tribune, but, except for that, there wasn’t any
international traditional press. I was surprised at how easy it was to get
around and how quickly we could adapt when we got to a new place. I
had taken French and our first stop was Paris, so I was able to
communicate there. But in Spain and Italy, I didn’t know the language at
all; through a combination of Berlitz, books, and charades we managed to
make ourselves understood. We had a fair amount of free time on the trip,
although we had organized bus tours every place we went. There were a
number of afternoons, and always in the evenings, where we were on own.
We just went out and found our way around. It was interesting. I can’t
say I got to know the people or anything like that. I didn’t speak the
language well enough to do that. I did think it was ironic that I had been
as far east in the world as Rome but had never been west of Syracuse,
New York. So I did resolve after that trip that I wanted to see more of the
United States before I made another trip abroad, and it was quite some
years before I went abroad again.
MR. SHAH: How long was the trip?
MR. SANDMAN: Three weeks.
MR. SHAH: In high school, was it a foregone conclusion that you’d go to college one
MR. SANDMAN: Yes. We were tracked in high school. No one ever labeled the tracks, but
it was – well, there was a college entrance program and then there was a
business program, and the business program was not college entrance.
And that decision was made based on an entrance exam you took coming
into high school. My guess is that if a parent had wanted to protest the
placement of a student in the business program, the school would have
entertained it, but people were clearly segregated from an early point
along college track/non-college track lines. Within the college track, there
were what were informally referred to as the A, B, and C groups, and the
assumption was that everyone was going to be prepared to go to college,
but not everybody would. I was in the A group and I can’t remember
anybody in my group – the groups blurred over time – it was in my
freshman year that the tracking was clearer, but I don’t remember anybody
in my freshman year in the A group who didn’t go to college. But in my
family, with my parents both having gone to both college and graduate
school, and my older brother started college the year I started high school,
it was just unspoken that of course I would go to college.
MR. SHAH: And did you know what you would study in college during high school?
MR. SANDMAN: Not math or science (laughter). I assumed history, I always liked history.
I remember in grade school reading ahead in my American history book
for pleasure. So, history, English, and political science would have been
at the top of my list. But I didn’t go into college having selected a major
or being certain about what I wanted to do. But I think it’s fair to say I
had a strong inclination to go into history.
MR. SHAH: Can you describe your thought process about where to go to college?
MR. SANDMAN: Yes. It wasn’t a process like the one that kids go through now. People
didn’t obsess about college choices. I don’t recall – there was certainly
nothing like Kaplan Courses, no nationally organized SAT prep courses. I
did take an SAT prep course at the Albany Academy, which was the fancy
boys’ school in Albany on Saturday mornings. When people were going
to do SAT prep, they arranged for it privately with some kind of tutor.
And I was probably with a group of 20 or 25 or so on Saturday mornings
for SAT prep. My brother had gone to Boston College – off to Boston
College and was in his senior year in college when I was in my senior year
in high school. So that was an obvious possibility. I knew more about
Boston College than any other college because I went there to drop him
off and went on campus, and I could picture myself there. The only
colleges I recall applying to were BC, Georgetown, and Williams. And I
got into BC and Georgetown; I didn’t get into Williams. And I never
visited Georgetown and never really gave it serious thought. I did have a
high school friend who went to Georgetown. I don’t know why I was so
dismissive of it. I think it was just the comfort level of BC. And, by the
time I had to make a decision about where to go, I knew that my older
brother was going onto law school at Harvard, so he had done very well
there and clearly had good options available to him. So I think as between
BC and Georgetown my choice was very clear. When I visited Williams,
I was ambivalent about it. If I gotten in there, I would have been very
tempted to go just because it was the best of the schools that I applied to.
But I didn’t really relate to it when I visited there; it wasn’t a place that
grabbed me, I couldn’t really picture myself there at Williamstown,
Massachusetts; it’s a small – it’s a beautiful town, but it’s small and
isolated. I had very mixed feelings about it. So I don’t know what I
would have done if I had gotten in there.
MR. SHAH: Was going to a college with some sort of religious affiliation something
that appealed to you?
MR. SANDMAN: Yes. My guess it was more of a neutral for me than a positive. If you’d
gone to Catholic school all of your life, it just is what it is. I suppose there
was a comfort factor in that. But I don’t recall having, you know, in, say,
comparing Williams to BC and Georgetown, giving BC and Georgetown
points because they were Catholic schools and Williams wasn’t. It was
just naturally going to be on the radar screen—if you went to a Catholic
high school, you would consider Catholic colleges. I don’t recall any
more to it than that.
MR. SHAH: And Boston College awarded you a Presidential Scholarship?
MR. SANDMAN: Yes. A Presidential Scholarship—I think it was $100 a year. We didn’t
qualify for financial aid, so it was a scholarship given without regard to
financial aid, given on the basis of merit. I don’t know if Presidential
Scholarships varied in amount. At the time I started BC, tuition was
$1,600 a year. So, a hundred dollars wasn’t insignificant—one-sixteenth
of my tuition, $400 for four years. My father was very happy to have it. It
was the honor more than the money.
MR. SHAH: What was it like arriving on campus for the first time as a student there?
MR. SANDMAN: It was intimidating, I’d never – except for my trip to Europe, I’d never
spent a substantial amount of time away from home. I didn’t know a lot of
people there. The dorm atmosphere was definitely required adaptation. I
don’t recall what the drinking age was in Massachusetts at the time—I
know it was eighteen in New York at the time—but there was a lot of beer
consumed on weekends. The smell of beer in the stairwells is something I
can still recall quite vividly. You know, you don’t have a schedule in
college the way you do in high school. You have to motivate yourself and
establish your own schedule in a way that I’d never had to do before.
You’re not expected to be in school at 8:30 and go until 3:00. I recalled
the course work being very challenging, particularly my freshman English
course. I had a professor who required that we write a paper a week and
the nature of the assignment was always the same, although the subject
varied. We had to write about a poem that he assigned to us and we had
to, as he put it, “explicate” the poem, which was, you know, a combination
of explaining it, parsing it, analyzing it, not just saying this is what the
poem means, but looking at the language and explaining why we thought
the poet had chosen this word rather than another, or symbolism in the
poem. And more often than not the assignment was a poem of T.S. Elliot.
Every week was the same: I would start by reading the poem and I would
not have a clue what the poem was about—it meant nothing to me, and I
would think how in the world am I going to write a paper about this
poem? Well, you can get books on interpreting T.S. Elliot, so I’d try to
read somebody else’s analysis of his work to get a clue as to what it might
be about. But then you weren’t going to do well if you just repeated what
some other analyst had written about T.S. Elliot. He was really looking
for original work. And he was a tough grader. The pressure of having to
create a paper like that every week—it was hard. You’d get one done and
breathe a sigh of relief and the next thing you knew, you had to do it all
over again. I later realized that that was among the best preparation I got,
certainly as an undergraduate, for being a lawyer. Because years later,
when I would have to do statutory interpretation or contract interpretation,
I had a grounding in language and how to think about it and how to
analyze it and pull it apart, that I think was unusual. And I, to this day, am
surprised by how poorly many lawyers read statutes or contracts. They
think it says something that it doesn’t or that there’s a way to make it say
what they want it to say and the language in front of them isn’t it. You
see, not to go off on Scalia-type statutory interpretation, but you see
lawyers proceed too quickly to legislative history to interpret a statute
without stopping first to examine the language of the statute itself. And
one of the most memorable cases I’ve ever had, which we’ll talk about
later, was a statutory interpretation case where that method of analysis
stood me in good stead. I had to take – there was a core curriculum, a
required curriculum, that for your first two years at BC took up a fair
amount of your class work. You had some options among types of
courses that you could take, but you had to take English, you had to take
western civilization, you had to take math, science, philosophy, theology
and, in some instances, four semesters of these things. Philosophy was
something that I hadn’t taken before, and that was challenging.
I liked Boston very, very much and that was just a big plus from
the very beginning, to be going to school in Boston. BC is actually not in
Boston. It’s on the edge of Boston, in Chestnut Hill. It’s adjacent to
Newton, Massachusetts, but it’s on two T lines.1 So you have public
transportation from the campus right into downtown Boston. We’d go
into downtown Boston regularly. We’d go over to Harvard Square. You
can get around Boston easily and I don’t think there’s a better place in the
United States to be a college student. There’s just so many schools there.
There’s so much going on. It’s geared toward people of that age. It’s very
hard not to have a good time going to college in Boston.
MR. SHAH: Do you have any memories about what you would do in Boston?
MR. SANDMAN: I remember hanging out in Harvard Square a fair amount. There was just
a lot going on there then. It was a center for demonstrations. It – just a lot
– the Harvard Coop, the store there, was an attraction. I couldn’t go to
bars there until I was a senior. I remember hanging out in the Harvard
Square area a lot. I remember the Boston Public Library. I liked to do
research there. It’s a beautiful building. They had just put on a
spectacular new addition. It’s right on Copley Square. You felt like you
were doing something important if you did research at the Boston Public
Library. I’d go to the Boston Common. I did the Freedom Trail many
times when friends would come to visit Boston and I’d show them around.
If I had friends who had cars, it was nice to be able to go to the beach or,
1 The “T” is the greater Boston area subway system.
you know, get out of town or get to go down to Cape Cod or something
like that. But that was unusual. Most of what I did, I did right in the city.
MR. SHAH: Did you have any roommates in college?
MR. SANDMAN: I did. My freshman year I was assigned a roommate at random, as most
freshman are. We didn’t particularly get along. He was a pothead. He
had a girlfriend from home who didn’t go to college and came up to visit
frequently, which required me to vacate the room. She got pregnant at the
end of freshman year and he never came back to college. My sophomore,
junior and senior years, I roomed with Don Ford, who was a friend of
mine from high school. We got along very well together, liked living
together. It was painless, so we just – after sophomore year, I don’t –
there was never any thought that either of us would room with anybody
MR. SHAH: Were there activities you were involved in during college?
MR. SANDMAN: Yes. I’d obviously go to BC sports events, football in particular. In my
freshman year, I participated in something called the Gold Key Society,
which was a service group that, among things we did, were to usher at
events on campus, football games, and also concerts. And I remember
going to a concert by Sly and the Family Stone in the fall of 1969. The
Supremes came to campus. So I got to have good vantage points at major
concerts on campus. I did some student government-related things. There
was a committee formed to overhaul the core curriculum and I was a
member of that. I started working on campus during my sophomore and
my junior years in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs,
with a guy named Jim McIntyre. My brother had worked for him when he
was in college and I had a work-study job there. I put in at least twenty
hours a week there. And that was a very important part of my college
experience. It was my first real experience working in an office, and he
would have me draft correspondence for him, or research things, write
things up for him. It was just very pragmatic. The political environment
at the time was very charged in that it was a time of a lot of student unrest,
a lot of hostility between college administrations and students. And there
were a lot of issues that came through the office that required judgment
and talking things through, trying to reason with people. And those are all
things that lawyers do; I didn’t make the connection at the time, but it
turned out to be good professional preparation for me. He gave me a lot of
responsibility and he solicited my opinions, and I think it helped me
develop judgment by being forced to think about hard issues and discuss
them. And also one of the ways you develop judgment is by being
exposed to other people who have it, and he did, and I learned a lot about
good judgment from him and just about how to treat people, including
people who may not be treating you very nicely. And I met a lot of people
on campus in the administration through that; it just gave me a window
into the college experience that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I have had
an interest in academia ever since then and I think colleges and
universities are very interesting enterprises. So my subsequent work years
later on the Board of Wilkes University or on the Board of Overseers for
my law school, all of that came back to me and was useful to me.
MR. SHAH: Were there other people that had an influence on you during your BC
MR. SANDMAN: I had a history teacher named Roger Johnson who really helped me focus
on doing creative research, going off and doing things on my own, which
isn’t something that comes naturally to me. The hardest thing for me in
having to write a paper, for example, is always coming up with a topic. I
do much better – I liked it much better when I was assigned a topic, rather
than having to come up with one. And he came up – I worked out with
him a couple of topics for papers that I wrote that I think really reflected
his interests. But they turned out to help me focus on what my interests
were. What I really liked to do was to talk about American history. I
liked to focus on modern America history because, if you have to write
about recent things, you don’t have the same variety of secondary sources
to go to. You have to do your own original research. Journalism is as
closest you can come to secondary sources about the things that you’re
writing about. I would have to go interviews, the Congressional Record,
autobiographical things. And I did two interesting papers for him. The
first was on Barry Goldwater and the Republican National Convention of
1960—not 1964—1960. Goldwater was the Republican nominee in 1964.
In 1960, he was just in his second term as a senator and Richard Nixon
was just the presumed nominee of the Republican party. He’d been
Eisenhower’s Vice-President for two terms. The primary system had not
developed at a point then when that it was easy for challengers to displace
somebody who had an obvious claim on the job in the way that Nixon did.
If you asked me who the principal challenger to Nixon might have been, I
would’ve said Nelson Rockefeller. But Professor Johnson had the view
that Goldwater really represented the heart of the Republican party in
1960 in a way that Richard Nixon did not. But he couldn’t prove it, so I
set out to see what I could find out about what the degree of support for
Barry Goldwater in 1960 really was. And it was fascinating to do it. He
did have some notoriety at the time. He had written a book called The
Conscience of a Conservative in, I think, 1958 that became something of a
conservative manifesto and was very prominent in his presidential
campaign four years later. It’s something that the Reaganites are familiar
with. He spoke fairly frequently. He didn’t have a high national profile
though, so if you were doing your research by going to The New York
Times index – I spent a lot of time at the index to, what’s it called – it was
a periodical index that you could look things up. And The New York
Times was indexed. Not many major newspapers were back then and
there was nothing online to allow you get into newspapers. So he had
some coverage in The Times, but ultimately I found a treasure trove right
here in Washington at the Library of Congress. Along the way in my
research, I told Professor Johnson that I was just having trouble getting
into sources that were reporting on what Goldwater was doing and he told
me, “Well, you know, the Library of Congress has a local newspaper
collection. They’ve got at least two newspapers from every state. I don’t
want to tell you that you have to do this, but if you made the trip down to
Washington to read some local newspapers, you might find out more.”
So I came down here and what I found was that none of the
newspapers in the Library of Congress, except for The New York Times,
were indexed. So if you wanted to find out what a Louisiana newspaper
was saying about Barry Goldwater in 1960, you weren’t going to find it by
looking it up in the newspaper index. So what I had to do was to identify
particular dates when I knew things were going on that the newspapers
might have been reporting—either the dates of state political conventions
or primaries and ultimately the dates of the Republican National
Convention—what was the local coverage of what was going on at the
convention. To make a long story short, I found a number of places where
there were pockets of support for him. And he got ten votes at the
convention, but I was convinced that didn’t nearly represent what the true
extent of sentiment in his favor was. And my conclusion, somewhat
speculative but with a basis in fact, was that if Nixon had left the choice of
his vice-presidential running mate to the convention, the convention would
have picked Barry Goldwater, but, instead, he picked Henry Cabot Lodge
and the convention deferred to him.
The other paper I wrote was my senior thesis and it was on Hubert
Humphrey and Democratic liberalism in the late 1950s. That was much
easier research to do because Humphrey was very loquacious. He talked a
lot. He spoke a lot. He gave a lot of speeches and he was much more
prominent nationally than Goldwater was, so my problem in researching
him was the opposite of Goldwater. It was how to cull down what I had
found and make sense of it. I ultimately wrote to Humphrey himself, who
at the time was back in the Senate from Minnesota, to ask him some
questions I had that I couldn’t find the answers to doing my research on
my own. I didn’t hear back from him until after I had to turn the paper in,
but God bless him, he did respond—and what I got back was a three-page,
single-spaced letter from him. And it was clear that it was his letter and
not something that an aide had written. In fact, I sent him numbered
questions and he sent me back a copy of my letter and his responses
correlated to my numbered questions—he had numbered paragraphs in his
letter. And the copy that he sent back to me had handwritten at the top in
a note that seemed to be from his secretary that said “only HHH can
answer,” meaning that someone had read the letter when it had come in
and determined that this couldn’t be turned over to an aide to answer. So,
maybe they just did that for effect, but I could tell from the nature of his
responses that he personally wrote the letter back to me. I still have that
Anyway, Roger Johnson really got me motivated to do original research
and just helped me think about how to identify good subjects to write
MR. SHAH: And that trip to the Library of Congress for the Goldwater research, was
that your first time in D.C.?
MR. SANDMAN: No, my family made a trip here in 1961, and we’d come back again in
1964, just overnight. But when I was in fourth grade, we made a family
trip here that was quite memorable. A number of things went well for us.
We had reservations at a hotel that’s now called the Boardman Park up on
Connecticut Avenue and Woodley Park and we were supposed to have
two connecting rooms. They had given them away and all they had for us
was a suite. The suite turned out to be a very large apartment in the old
part of the building that still stands up there at Connecticut and Woodley
Road. It had a living room and a dining room. It had a grand piano. This
was just a scream for us. And my father had made arrangements to have a
tour and had rented a car for us with a driver who was going to take us
around, and the car service messed things up. Instead, they sent a bus—a
full-sized bus. So it was our family on this bus with a very knowledgeable
bus driver and we tooled around Washington for a couple of days in our
own private bus. And the thing I remember was every one of us got our
own window. If you grew up in a large family in the days before
minivans, getting an outside seat in the car next to a window was a big
deal, and there were a lot of fights over who was going to get the
windows. Mom and Dad got the windows in the front seat, but there are
only two in the back seat and there were five kids. We all spread out on
the bus.
But I remember visiting the White House. You could walk right
up to the front door on Pennsylvania Avenue. There was no guard
stopping you. The degree of accessibility of things would be unthinkable
MR. SHAH: Did you ever think during these trips that you’d come here to live for
MR. SANDMAN: I can’t say I thought about it in those terms, but I liked Washington a lot. I
thought of it as a very cool city and the thought of possibly living here was
very appealing. But I don’t recall that it was a goal that I had.
MR. SHAH: And you touched upon this earlier, but, would you like to talk about what
it was like to go to college during the Vietnam era?
MR. SANDMAN: Oh yeah.
MR. SHAH: What it was like on campus? And I believe you mentioned that your
brother was in the National Guard?
MR. SANDMAN: Yes. It was a tough time. The country was in bad shape. I think I
mentioned, 1968 was just a frightening year. You just felt like the country
was falling apart. Vietnam demonstrations on campus [and] around
Boston, were very big. And in the fall of 1969 when I started college, I
think there was a big march on Washington in November of 1969
protesting the Vietnam War. Kent State occurred. But demonstrations at
BC actually had gotten started some weeks before Kent State. In March of
1970, the University announced that they were raising tuition by fourhundred
dollars, from sixteen-hundred dollars a year to two-thousand
dollars a year—a whopping increase. And the students went out on strike,
we stopped going to class. I remember the administration telling us that
this was going to damage our prospects for employment and for getting
into graduate schools because everybody would remember that in the
spring of 1970 those Boston College students went out on strike. Well,
events actually overtook us when the rest of the country went out on strike
at every other college and university when Nixon invaded Cambodia
(laughter). So we kind of disappeared into the noise. We were just out on
strike four weeks sooner than anybody else. It helped that the weather was
very nice that spring so that people wanted to be outdoors throwing
frisbees rather than going to class. But the main bell tower on campus,
Gasson Tower at BC, was from the very top draped in white sheets with
red fists painted on them in protest. And you’d see kids walking around
on the stonework up there, you know, high up, just – they’d taken over the
building and you could go anywhere you wanted. And then the semester
kind of ended with a fizzle. Professors came up with their own means of
testing people. It was actually difficult to convene people for a final exam
so a lot of things were done by take-home exams or writing papers instead
of exams. But there were a lot of demonstrations. The draft was just
pervasive. You were just constantly aware of it and that had a lot to do
with student unrest on campuses. You had a student deferment for four
undergraduate years. But once you got out of college, you were at risk.
Every male had to live with the prospect of being shipped off to Vietnam
the minute you graduated from college unless you had some other kind of
The environment changed over the four years that I was in college.
The Vietnam War began to taper down. They introduced the lottery for
the draft, which gave you a better sense of what your chances were and
were not of being drafted. My draft number was 229. My lottery number
was 229. And they would announce each year how far into the numbers,
how far down they thought they would have to go to fill their recruiting
needs. You weren’t actually up – I think you got one number that stayed
with you, I think, in the year you were twenty or something. That lottery
number stayed with you. So I had my student deferment for four years;
229 was going to be my number when I got out of college. They never
really got too close. They got well into the hundreds. And in my senior
year in college, there was a draft counselor on campus, and every college
and university had a draft counselor, to tell you how to manage your
chances. And I was counseled to drop my student deferment and to put
myself out there, draft-eligible, because it was so unlikely that they would
get to my number. And I actually didn’t even have a full year of
eligibility. I was able to drop my deferment part way through a year, have
a window where I was eligible, and then, when the year was over, it was
as if I survived. And then, the way the process worked, they would have
to go through some, you know, a full year of people after me, go through
all 365 numbers before they would go back to a prior year to pick up
people that had been passed over. So, I was never really at serious risk of
being drafted.
There wasn’t much school spirit in those days. Quite the contrary.
There was a lot of animosity between college administrators and students
at BC, particularly around tuition increases. So for things like my senior
graduation – I think they call it a prom or whatever, the turnout was very
low. It just was not fashionable to either dress up or to do anything that
smacked of participation in university-sponsored activities. Except for
athletics, they continued to be a draw.
Nixon was very unpopular on college campuses and there was a lot
of division in the country. Nixon used to refer to what he called “the silent
majority”—people who didn’t demonstrate, but who supported him and
supported the Vietnam War. There was a silent majority—they re-elected
him in 1972. But you used to see things, like you’d go down a street of
modest middle-class homes and every one of them would have an
American flag out and that indicated support for the war and support for
Nixon. You would never see that on a college campus. It was an
interesting time to go to school. I remember on Tuesday nights I used to
give up my dinner. I wouldn’t have dinner on Tuesday night and the value
of the dinner would be – the school would contribute the value of the
dinner to a breakfast program that the Black Panthers ran in – I can’t
remember what part of Boston – in Roxbury in Boston. The turnout on
Tuesday nights at dinner – if you were seen going into the cafeteria, that
was not a good thing, you might want to put a paper bag over your head.
A lot of activism. It was good in a way. People spoke up. Students were
much, much more politically active both in numbers and in intensity than
they have been ever since.
MR. SHAH: And did you take part in any protests or activism on campus?
MR. SANDMAN: I struck. I didn’t believe in doing anything in the nature of vandalism or
anything like that. I never participated in anything like that. But I did
show up at demonstrations and participated that way.
MR. SHAH: Can you talk about your brother’s National Guard service around this
MR. SANDMAN: He went into the National Guard the summer after he graduated from
college. He’d been admitted to Harvard and was able to defer his
admission for a year. Deferrals for purposes like that were very common.
He had to go to boot camp. I can’t remember the fort, I think it was in
Georgia, for four months and he just hated it. My father got him into the
National Guard. My brother had never been inclined to run for political
office; that would’ve been held against him. Dan Quayle subsequently
had problems and George W. Bush had problems—how did they get into
the National Guard, you know. You got into the National Guard back
then, I think, because you knew people and people pulled strings. It was a
way not to go to Vietnam. I think it’s fair to say that it was a system that
benefitted connected white people and operated. I think that the people
who ended up going to Vietnam and really being drafted were
disproportionately minorities and people who didn’t know how to work
the system. From the perspective of family though, a parent would do
anything to get their kid out of going to Vietnam. But that’s how my
brother got into the National Guard. He ended up having to serve for six
years. He would have to go off two weeks every summer. He’d have to
do a Saturday or weekend every month, I think. His guard unit was in
Albany, but he was in Boston for the whole time that he was in the Guard,
so he had to travel home for his weekends of Guard duty. I can’t tell you
what it meant being what he did in the Guard, you know; he just showed
up for things on weekends and went off to camp and did drills or whatever
you do when you go off to a military camp for two weeks.
MR. SHAH: Can you describe your political thinking during college and how Vietnam
may have shaped it or changed it?
MR. SANDMAN: I was a Democrat. I voted for – the first election I could vote in was 1972,
and I voted for George McGovern in 1972. I wanted to trust my
government. It was very difficult for me to get my head around the idea
that when Nixon went on TV and gave a speech about what was going on
in Vietnam that everything he said wasn’t true. It was frustrating because
the political opposition was not well-coordinated. But McGovern wasn’t a
good candidate, he never stood a chance against Nixon. He is a good
person, you know, I agreed with his political views, but as a candidate he
was just too far left, too far out of the mainstream, not credible with
enough with a large enough number of Americans to stand the chance of
election. It was a time when you wondered about whether the political
system could really work. It seemed unresponsive to a number of people
who were very smart and wanted to be involved [and] had strong views
and, you know, that is the attitude of which revolutions are born, when
people think the system is just not hearing them and they can’t get their
message across. It was never the – it kind of undid the public service
idealism of the Kennedy era. Both because Nixon was kind of the anti-
Kennedy (laughter) and because it was kind of hard to point to examples
of liberal democratic involvement in politics that looked like they were
working and accomplishing something. High level of frustration. I don’t
really recall much about Watergate when it happened. I do recall vividly
when it began to unfold later on when I was in law school. It was a time
that tested my interest in political involvement and my view of public
MR. SHAH: And to this point had you ever volunteered for a political campaign of any
sort or for a particular cause?
MR. SANDMAN: I had. In 1964, I did some campaign work for Senator Kenneth Keating of
New York, who was running against – a republican running against Bobby
Kennedy, and Keating was a liberal republican, the type that doesn’t exist
anymore. You would call him a Rockefeller republican, although I think
he preceded Rockefeller. He was a good senator and I don’t think there
was all that much distance in views between him and Bobby Kennedy.
But Bobby Kennedy was just really a carpetbagger (laughter) and, you
know, he bought a place in New York in the summer of 1964 to run for
the Senate that fall, and something about that just offended me (laughter).
I also did – I recall, in high school, in the spring of 1968, sitting in the
cafeteria in the study hall writing letters for Eugene McCarthy who was –
did much better in the New Hampshire primary against Lyndon Johnson
than anybody expected him to and his candidacy suddenly became alive
and large in 1968. And in fact his showing in New Hampshire had a lot to
do with Johnson’s decision not to run for re-election that year and I don’t
– I didn’t do anything door-to-door, but I do now recall doing handwritten
letters. To whom I couldn’t tell you, but somebody in the campaign was
organizing us and coming up with mailing lists of people for us to write to.
MR. SHAH: And, during your college years, did you have any summer jobs?
MR. SANDMAN: Yes, my first real summer job was the summer after my senior year in
high school, although that summer and the following summer I worked at
a liquor store in Albany. I could sell liquor because I was eighteen. I
looked to be about fourteen and I was under strict instructions to get ID
from anybody who looked like they might be close to eighteen, and I was
always wondering why they weren’t asking me for my ID. It was an
education actually. It was a small kind of corner liquor store. It did very
little business and there were some regular customers—and I had never
had any exposure to alcoholism or people who drank too much—and there
were people who came in way too often and it was obvious. It was an
education for me. The summer after my sophomore year in college I
didn’t have a job. My parents were moving that summer from Albany
down to New York City. My dad had started working by that point, so my
dad hired me to move things in bits and pieces, things that didn’t make
sense to put on a moving van, and to do some work on that house that they
had bought down in Harrison, New York. He was working in New York
and was away during the week and there were a lot of things that my mom
needed help with. And then after my junior and senior years and after my
first year in law school, I worked on campus full-time for the Vice-
President for Student Affairs. It was fun to be on campus during the
summer when there’d be like one dorm open, maybe one floor in the
dorm, and it just got me connected to BC very strongly. Just being there
when everybody else was away, you just had your run of the place, and we
would barbeque out on the lawn of the dorm. And Boston in the summer
was a very good time.
MR. SHAH: Were you in the dormitory all of your years at Boston College?
MR. SANDMAN: Yes. Basic dormitory, cinderblock room with, you know, two twin beds.
The basic setup.
MR. SHAH: And can you talk about the culmination of your college years? You’d
done well—Phi Beta Kappa, Outstanding History Student, when did you
start thinking about life after Boston College?
MR. SANDMAN: I started – I was thinking about it probably all the way through. I never
seriously considered going to work right out of college. What are you
going to do with a history degree (laughter)? And my impression was that
employers who came to campus looking to hire people graduating, not
from a graduate school, were looking for accounting majors and marketing
majors and not liberal arts majors. I think the only options I would have
considered would have been graduate school in history or law school. I
didn’t give serious thought to graduate school in history. I liked history a
lot, but not enough to decide that I wanted to get a Ph.D., and I didn’t
think it’d make any sense just to stop at a master’s. And the job market in
academia was just so tight and so unpredictable, always has been. That
wasn’t very attractive to me. What attracted me about law school was that
it – I was interested more in a law degree than in being a lawyer because I
saw lots of people with law degrees doing a number of different things,
many of which I would be interested in. They were in business, they were
in academia, they were practicing law, they were in government, they
were in journalism. It was the least restrictive of any option that I had. I
think a lot of people go to law school for that reason: not exactly sure what
they want to do but they think a J.D. wouldn’t be a bad thing to have. You
know, I did talk to a college counselor about going to law school to get
advice on what law schools to apply to and he tried to redirect me to
business school. His principal reason was that, at the time, business
schools were unpopular, and he thought that I could get into a better
business school than I could a law school. You know, this was the
Vietnam era, anti-establishment—it was not cool to go to business school.
I think I may have taken the business boards, whatever they are called, at
his urging. I don’t think I applied – I didn’t apply to any business schools,
so I gave it some passing thought, but not a lot. I just couldn’t imagine
myself being a businessperson even though my father was a banker. I
didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know what that would be about, or
how I would spend my day, or what I’d be doing. And it wasn’t
something that I felt any natural aptitude for. So if you can’t sing and you
can’t dance and you are not good at math or science, what do you do: you
go to law school (laughter).
MR. SHAH: What other law schools did you think about attending?
MR. SANDMAN: I thought about Harvard, where my brother was; Boston College, I
obviously considered and applied to; Albany Law School in my hometown
where my father had gone; I applied to Columbia as I recall; I applied to
Georgetown. I don’t remember. I was just looking to get into the best law
school I could get into. There weren’t U.S. News and World Report
rankings then. You just sort of had to depend on word of mouth and you
talked to people. I got advice from my brother on where to apply to. I
couldn’t reconstruct at this point a complete list of every place that I
applied to.
MR. SHAH: And before we turn to your law school years, one last note on BC – do you
still keep in touch with any of your classmates?
MR. SANDMAN: I do. I keep in closest touch with my roommate. I went to grade school
and high school with my college roommate and our mothers were and are
friends—they are both 90 now—and so we have had a life-long
connection since birth.
MR. SHAH: That’s great. Are any of your old BC classmates members of the DC Bar
by any chance?
MR. SANDMAN: (Laughter) Oh, yeah, there are – well, classmates, actually now that you
mention that, no, I can’t, you know, I think – I know a number of BC
people who are members of the DC Bar, but no I can’t think of a particular
classmate who is.
MR. SHAH: And, moving on to your days at UPenn, what was it like starting law
school there?
MR. SANDMAN: It was intimidating. I got into Penn off the waiting list and that always, to
me anyway – that, you know, to me anyway, you wonder, am I at the
bottom of the class (laughter), you know, did I just squeak in? I later
learned a lot of other people got in off the waiting list too. And, in fact, I
had gotten a letter from Penn telling me that I was on the waiting list and
on the very same day I got a call—my roommate took it, I wasn’t in our
room at the time—from the Dean of Admissions telling me that I had been
admitted. So, the same day I get a letter telling me I am on the waiting list
and get a call saying I had been admitted. So I called the Dean of
Admissions back to find out what gives and which one to believe and all
he said was “the call is confirmed.” And then I subsequently got an
admission letter. The two colleges most represented in my law school
class were Penn and Yale. So, coming from Boston College and knowing
I got in off the waiting list, I wondered if I was really up to this. And I
really didn’t know that much about law school, about what it was like. I
never attended a law school class. I did go down just to walk through the
law school in the spring of my senior year, but they didn’t have any kind
of organized program for admitted students. I got the – I remember
getting the faculty directory and looking at it and just being scared by the
credentials of the people teaching there.
It was, I do recall, I actually found my first year of law school in
some ways – I found the workload lighter than college. I found it easier
because in law school, in the first year of law school, except for your legal
writing course, all you have to do is read cases for class, go to class, and
then you take an exam at the end of the semester. But you don’t have
mid-terms and you don’t have papers. And the reading—the amount of
reading compared to what I would have had to do as a history major, was
minuscule. I used to have a stack of books a foot-and-a-half high that I
would have to read for each of my history classes, for a single course in
each semester. I had to read huge amounts of things and then always had
writing assignments at one time or another hanging over my head. And I
found I could manage my workload in law school much more easily. If I
wanted to go away for a weekend, I would just read ahead. There wasn’t
anything comparable that I could do in college to manage my workload.
I was terrified of being called on in class and, you know, I still
remember the first person to be called on in law school. It was Glen
Olsers, the poor guy. He had been called on for a torts question. I think
the question was “What is a tort?” And that form of the Socratic method
of class participation—compelled class participation—was not something
that I was used to at all and I didn’t have any natural comfort with the
subject matter. I remember particularly civil procedure my first semester,
first year; I had no idea what civil procedure was about. No one had ever
given me kind of a road map to a lawsuit and “here is how a lawsuit
unfolds.” The rules were just sort of abstractions to me. So I spent a good
part of civil procedure just in a fog, just, you know, I took notes and I read
the cases, but I didn’t have a context in which to put them. Courses like
criminal procedure, I liked that, that I got—that had to do with things you
saw on TV and Miranda warnings and things of that nature, that I could
pick up much better. I liked my classmates a lot and I didn’t realize until
some years later how much the law school had to do with creating a
culture of collegiality and community that I think was very unusual at the
MR. SANDMAN: The movie The Paper Chase – I didn’t see the movie before I went to law
school. I didn’t see it until the summer after my first year in law school.
And when I saw that, I thought it was a parody. This Kingsfield guy, and
the competitiveness among the students, and the study groups. And after I
got out of law school and was talking to some friends who had gone to
other law schools who were talking about The Paper Chase, I expressed
my view that I thought it was a parody and they said “What are you
talking about, it was very realistic.” And I realized that people went to
other law schools—NYU was the one that this person was commenting
on—at the same time had very different experiences from the one that I
had. In my class, if a student had ever – if one student had ever seen
another razor-blading a case out of a book or something like that, I mean,
the person would have been a pariah. It was one for all, all for one, very –
you know, if you missed a class and you needed to borrow notes, it was no
problem at all. The sentiment seemed to be law school is hard enough,
thank you. We get the subject matter. It’s hard enough. We don’t need to
make it more difficult by having strained relationships among one another.
So people were very supportive.
I recall in my first year in Contracts class, second semester, the
professor began to pick on a student after a point where it was clear that
the student didn’t know the answer and was not prepared. And some
students in the class began to hiss. I wouldn’t hiss, but it was instinctive.
It was just something that came out of people and the message was “don’t
do that to one of us—not okay.” And the professor backed off right away;
nothing like that ever happened again. And I thought it was, you know—I
didn’t think it was quite the appropriate way to express the sentiment—I
thought it was actually a very good thing. It said something about the
character of the class. And that, you know, we could all imagine ourselves
– having that happen to us, and it wasn’t okay.
For a long time I attributed my experience to my classmates; I
thought I just got lucky. I just fell in with a good class. And I didn’t give
the school any credit for it. And it took me some time, looking back, to
realize that there were things that Penn did to encourage that environment.
It didn’t talk about them though. For some time now, Penn has marketed
itself as a place that’s a good place to go to law school and where there is
a sense of community because I think they realized they had something
that was unusual and that they should be out selling it. They didn’t talk
about it, but among the things they did, for example: faculty members
were prohibited from having office hours. Because office hours were
viewed as restrictive. The message office hours send are “I am available
to you only during the following times,” whereas the law school’s rule
was that every professor when he or she is not in class, between 9:00 and
5:00, should be in their office with the door open, accessible to students.
And I never really took advantage of that, but it sent a message to you
about what the faculty-student relationship was. And they weren’t up on
pedestals and hard to reach. They were supposed to be engaged with
The grading system had something to do with it. We weren’t
ranked. We had grades that went distinguished, excellent, good, and
qualified. And there was a strict curve and in many classes no one got a
distinguished. No more than 20 percent of the class could get excellent;
forty percent good; forty percent qualified. And there was something kind
of opaque about the system that just made it very difficult to tell where
people stood. But it made it less competitive as a result.
But first year I did feel out of my element with the subject matter.
And I was stunned when I got my first semester grades and had no idea
how I had done as well as I had. I thought there must be some mistake.
But I didn’t want to go look at my blue books for fear that if I raised any
questions they would say “Oh yes, there was a mistake, you shouldn’t
have gotten that grade.” And I did as well in my second semester as I did
my first. And I don’t know exactly where I stood in my class at the end of
my year, but I am pretty confident I was among the top five people and
may have been second or so. And then I got on to Law Review on the
basis of my grades the summer after my first year.
My second and third years were very different. I look back on law
school as a result of my experiences in my second or third years and think
of it primarily as a social experience. I just made great friends. It was my
first time not being in a Catholic school. I had never been able to identify
the taste or smell of garlic before law school. My law school roommate
was Jewish and invited me to Seders at his house and introduced me to
Chinese food and all sorts of things I never experienced. It was very
broadening for me and it brought me out of my shell in a way that no prior
experience had. And a lot of that came through the Law Review. The
group of people that I was on Law Review with became my best friends.
We worked very closely together and we shared quarters. There was a
Law Review library where we liked to do our work. And then in my third
year, when I was on the board of Law Review, we were in the offices of
the Law Review in pairs of a shared offices there. I liked that experience a
lot. And learned a lot from that. And I learned business skills from that.
In my third year I was Executive Editor of the Law Review and I had to
manage the second-year students who were the associate editors, give
them their assignments and deal with problems, and it was in some ways a
human resources job. And I liked it a lot and learned a lot from it. And
then it was the substance of it, you know, editing articles and having to
produce a journal on a regular schedule, and work within a budget. Those
were all things that were useful to me years later.
MR. SHAH: Were there any classes that you particularly liked or disliked during law
MR. SANDMAN: A few. I really liked Federal Income Tax. It was taught by Alvin Warren
who later moved on to Harvard Law School. He was a very entertaining
professor and he made tax accessible. This is a course that most people
walk into taking because they think they have to, not because they want to.
And he made it enjoyable. And what I liked about it was that it was a
code course. And most of your other law school classes are common law
courses. Here, you may read cases in tax law, but you’re reading an
interpretation of the Internal Revenue Code and Regulations. And it was a
puzzle to me. The answer is in the Code of the Regulations. Figure it out.
And, you know, the idea was that when, you know, within a finite body of
material you could find the answer or the answer was “that may not be
really clear,” but you had – that’s all you have to work with to find the
answer. I thought was intriguing and it reminds me, I had taken a – I took
a full year of accounting in college. The only kind of business course I
took. And I took it deliberately just to do something different and give
myself a little breadth. And it reminded me of that—that there’s just kind
of logic to it and rules that I enjoyed working with. He was a wonderful
And then in my third year, I took Federal Courts with Martha
Field, who also subsequently went on to Harvard. Penn was a training
ground for Harvard and Yale back then. And that was a very difficult
course, but she more than any other professor in law school taught me to
think like a lawyer. She had a very ordered, analytical mind. And, you
know, she would—today she would probably be a big user of Excel
spreadsheets to explain things—you know, she would draw boxes and
charts on the blackboard to explain things. And she was a very effective
user of the Socratic method. She would not call on people involuntarily
except for each class, for each unit of material, she would have a group of,
say, four “experts,” as she called them, who were responsible for having
read the material carefully and prepared for it. And you were on the hot
seat. If you were an expert and your turn was up, you knew when your
turn was up. Once you’d done your thing as an expert, you were off the
hook until the next time she worked her way through the class and got
back to you. And it elevated the level of dialogue. She was only calling
on people who knew that they were going to be called on and who had an
incentive to prepare really well and get together to prepare. She called on
other people who volunteered, but that tweak to the Socratic method,
particularly in a subject as complex as Federal Courts, worked out very,
very well. She’s very smart. Excellent, excellent teacher. Those two
courses stand out more than any others in terms of long-term benefit and
examples of great instruction.
Courses I didn’t like so much? Conflict of Laws (laughter). That
list is longer actually (laughter).
MR. SHAH: And during this time were you a user of study groups or did you usually
just study on your own?
MR. SANDMAN: I studied on my own. I would – my second and third years, I talked to my
roommate about particular issues sometimes. But that’s never been very
appealing to me. I just, I learn on my own pace and I don’t think of it as
being efficient for me. No, never was in a study group. Now, something
like if I was one of the experts in Federal Courts, I would get together with
the other people who were going to be up at the same time I was. But
otherwise no.
MR. SHAH: And we’ve talked about your classmates generally, but are there particular
ones that stand out from those years and maybe even ones you still keep in
touch with?
MR. SANDMAN: Sure, well, my law school roommate, Lee Rosengard. I’ve kept in touch
with him over time. He married a law school classmate of ours, Andrea
Kramer. They’re going to be visiting Washington next weekend and
we’re getting together. He’s a very, very funny guy. We used to laugh
ourselves sore. Very enjoyable guy to live with.
Nancy Bregstein was the first woman editor-in-chief of the Penn
Law Review and was a very good friend. We were an item for a while.
She went on to clerk for Justice Powell. She was very, very smart, but not
arrogant. Very good values. Ran a good Law Review. Knew something
about the importance of making an enterprise a good place to work.
Larry Stein was later a partner of mine at Arnold & Porter and then
went on to become general counsel of Wyeth. Larry was scary smart.
Scary smart; one of the smartest human beings I have ever met. I always
felt a little validated that he seemed to like me (laughter). Also very witty,
very witty guy. I have lots of friends from law school.
MR. SHAH: Do any of them practice in the DC area currently?
MR. SANDMAN: No, not really, no. Many of them were years ago. Most of my – oh, Gary
Sasso was the year behind me in law school and was Editor-in-Chief of
the Law Review the year after I graduated. Also graduated first in his
class and clerked for Byron White. All these people, Larry and Nancy and
Gary all came to Washington. And we were all young lawyers here. But
they’ve all spread out. Larry moved first to Boston and then to New
Jersey after he left the firm. Nancy now lives in Philadelphia. Gary is
chairman of the firm Carlton Fields based in Tampa, Florida. So my
closest law school friends are not in Washington now.
MR. SHAH: And what was life in Philadelphia like during this time?
MR. SANDMAN: It grew on me (laughter). When I first arrived there, I didn’t like it at all.
As a city to go to school in, Philadelphia does not compare favorably to
Boston. And West Philadelphia at the time I lived there was a tough
neighborhood. Frank Rizzo was the mayor of Philadelphia then. He was
kind of a, you know, Nixon tough cop. A lot of police presence, not in a
good way. The city was kind of run down. The public transportation
system wasn’t as nearly as good or as accessible as the one in Boston had
been. And if you’re just taking a quick drive through Philadelphia, it was
just not visually appealing at the time. It was gritty and kind of dirty.
And what I realized over time is that Philadelphia has character.
The things that are attractive about it aren’t, at least back then, weren’t
immediately visible on a first visit. It’s got neighborhoods. It’s got lot of
ethnic identity. It has history. It has interesting architecture. It’s got great
cultural facilities —the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philadelphia Art
Museum—but it takes a while to get to know all those things. And by the
time I graduated from Penn, I seriously considered staying there. The
thought when I first arrived there that, the three years later, I might
consider staying there would have been unfathomable. And part of it had
to do with just the people I met there and that I knew others who were
going to be staying there. And I could imagine making a life there. But
my attitude changed very considerably over time. I like Philadelphia a lot.
And the city has improved now. I mean, I think it’s much more attractive,
it’s had a renaissance since then.
MR. SHAH: And where did you live within the city?
MR. SANDMAN: I always lived on campus. I lived in the law dorms. First year, the law
dorms. If you wanted to live on campus as a first-year student, you had to
live in the law dorms. And the reason for that was they never would have
filled them otherwise (laughter). They were built, I would guess in the
1950s. They were almost all single rooms and they were monastic. I
could—I’m about 5’11, I’m not real tall—I could palm the ceiling of my
room, the ceiling was so low. And the room was no more than a foot
wider than a bed spread across it. And it was literally ten feet from the
law school building. It was a little claustrophobic in many ways, and, you
know, first year is all-consuming enough. But when you’re sleeping ten
feet from the building where you’re going to class, that’s just too much.
Second and third years I lived in what they called Grad Towers.
And they were every bit as glamorous as the name suggests. They too had
probably been built in the 1960s. They were maybe twenty-story
buildings and they were combination of single rooms with shared baths in
between and small, what they called, apartments. Lee and I shared an
apartment that had two bedrooms and then – it was basically two
bedrooms and a kitchen is what it was, with a bathroom. And up about a
block from the law school. It felt a lot better than ten feet. I didn’t own
any furniture or anything. The idea of – Lee and I did look after first year
at some places to live off campus. But I didn’t have a car. It was just
going to be too much of a hassle to do this living off campus thing. The
convenience of living on campus meant a lot to me.
MR. SHAH: What sorts of things did you do when you weren’t studying in
MR. SANDMAN: Law Review was hugely, hugely time-consuming in my second and third
years, and took up almost all of my time. But we’d do things like – there
were some restaurants that we went to, some, you know, modestly-priced
places to eat. We went downtown. I walked all over downtown
Philadelphia. Penn is at 34th and Chestnut. The center of the city is at
15th. So, it’s a nineteen-block walk down a little bit over to get to the
middle of downtown Philadelphia. I went to the art museum and went to
an occasional Phillies game. Never saw a football or hockey or basketball
in Philadelphia.
I’d do other things on the Penn campus. The law school is on a
corner of the campus. It’s on the main campus, but not in the middle of it.
So I participated in university activities. And in my second and third years
I had friends who had cars and, you know, we’d go out apple-picking or
something like that in the fall, [or] go out to the Lancaster area or
something like that to get out of town.
MR. SHAH: Did you take any trips during law school or anything of that nature?
MR. SANDMAN: Not really, no. The summer after I graduated from college, my sister and I
– my older sister and I did a fly/drive trip, which at the time was a very
novel thing to do. Package deal. American Airlines offered and included
airfare, a rental car, and accommodations and [we] drove from San Diego
up to San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway. But I didn’t do any
other significant travel during law school.
MR. SHAH: And which sister was this?