Stephen Glasser, co-founder of the Legal Times newspaper, dies at 79

Stephen A. Glasser, who trained as a lawyer but found far greater fulfillment shaping the legal profession as a publisher and entrepreneur, partnering with his wife in 1978 to found the Legal Times, a small but influential newspaper that helped demystify a traditionally secretive and insular newspaper. industry, died Aug. 25 in a Manhattan hospital. He was 79 years old.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his daughter Susan Glasser, a New Yorker editor and former Washington Post editor.

When Mr. Glasser started the Legal Times in Washington with his wife, Lynn, knowledge of the legal profession was generally limited to “anyone who watched ‘Perry Mason,'” said William J. Perlstein, an FTI Consulting executive and former co-worker. -Associate director of the law firm WilmerHale. Stephen and Lynn Glasser “transformed the understanding of law in America,” he added, founding a journal that “actually brought law firms and lawyers to life.”

Backed by publishing house Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, where Mr Glasser had run a business and legal division, the weekly tabloid reported on all manner of legal issues, from Treasury Department regulations to energy, securities and environmental law. The newspaper had a Washington focus that was reflected in its original name, Legal Times of Washington, although its editors technically lived in Montclair, NJ, commuting weekly to the publication’s Dupont Circle offices via Eastern Airlines shuttle. .

For best editor, the Glassers hired David Beckwith, a Time magazine reporter who had won the United States Supreme Court on his own. Roe vs. Wade decision. Later hires included journalist Kim Masters, now editor of The Hollywood Reporter.

“Before the Legal Times, there had never been an independent general interest trade publication that promised an objective outside look at lawyers, especially large firms operating in big cities,” Beckwith wrote in an e-mail. mail. He added that Mr. Glasser and his wife saw an opening after a 1977 Supreme Court ruling that upheld lawyers’ right to advertise their services, and after the American Bar Association also relaxed its own advertising rules.

The timing seemed particularly opportune under the Carter administration, which enacted “a torrent of new federal business regulations,” he said, “making Washington’s corporate lawyers even more important than ever.”

Mr. Glasser had aspired to a career as a journalist in college, spending summers working for newspapers in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Detroit before his family insisted he go to law school. As editor, he remained a constant and tireless presence in the office, even as his journal “profoundly frightened, amused and provoked howls of indignation among the corporate law community,” Beckwith said.

The Legal Times was best known for a gossip column titled Inadmissible, which was created by Mr Glasser and chronicled courtroom mistakes, law firm blow-ups and industry failings, much to the chagrin subjects like the Washington Wilkes Artis company. “A lot of people around us would like to chain them up,” one of the firm’s lawyers told the Post in 1979, after the Legal Times reported on an internal split within the firm.

The journal rivaled for readers and advertisers two other national legal publications that began in its wake: the monthly American Lawyer, founded by editor Steven Brill, and the weekly National Law Journal, a sibling of the many oldest New York Law Journal. All three came under the control of Brill, which bought the Legal Times in 1986 for $2-4 million. At that time, the newspaper had a circulation of around 6,000 copies and was overshadowed by its competitors, The Post reported at the time.

The journal merged with the National Law Journal in 2009. By then, legal news sources had proliferated, with websites and blogs including Above the Law, Volokh Conspiracy and SCOTUSblog offering information that doesn’t were once available only in newspapers like the Legal Times.

“It’s only about 100 of what was available before we started,” Beckwith said in a phone interview. “I think we were sort of the door openers.” He recalled that when the newspaper started, he and his staff struggled to get basic information from law firms, including details on how many lawyers they employed or who ran their litigation department. . But “within just a few months, they revealed what would have caused them to share an aneurysm.”

The eldest of three children, Stephen Andrew Glasser was born in Memphis on July 27, 1943. His mother, the former Esther Kron, was a social worker. His father, Melvin A. Glasser, oversaw medical field trials for Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine and later served as an official with the United Auto Workers union and the Health Security Action Council in Washington.

His father’s career took the family to Arlington, Virginia and then to Rye, New York, where Mr. Glasser graduated from high school. He studied political science at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY, and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1965, the same year he married Lynn Schreiber. She supported him through law school, working a day job while he attended the University of Michigan.

After graduating in 1968, he practiced law for only a few months, working as an attorney with the Washington Department of Labor, before going into business with his wife and moving to Montclair. Together they worked at the New York Law Journal, where Mr. Glasser became executive vice president and editor, and later at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, publishing legal bulletins and books by James C. Freund, a lawyer from a leader in mergers and acquisitions, and Bruce W. Sanford, a First Amendment scholar.

In 1995, they started a new company, Glasser LegalWorks, which organized law conferences and management forums. The company was sold to FindLaw, a subsidiary of media conglomerate Thomson, in 2003.

Mr. Glasser was still working in recent years, hosting conferences and continuing education programs through his latest company, Sandpiper Partners. He also helped found a hospice in Glen Ridge, NJ, and worked in higher education, serving on the advisory board for Montclair State University’s School of Communication and as a trustee and alumnus. chairman of the board of trustees of Bloomfield College, a predominantly black institution in New Jersey.

In addition to his daughter Susan, of Washington, survivors include his wife, Lynn, of Montclair, and three other children: Laura Glasser, a former television writer who worked on “The West Wing,” of South Pasadena, Calif. ; Jeffrey Glasser, vice president and general counsel of the Los Angeles Times; and Jennifer Glasser, partner of the law firm White & Case, of Scarsdale, NY The survivors also include two sisters and seven grandchildren.

“It says a lot about my father’s influence on all of us that of his four children, two are writers and two are lawyers,” said Susan Glasser, who dedicated her upcoming book “The Divider: Trump in the White House , 2017-2021” in part to his father. (The book was written with her husband, New York Times journalist Peter Baker, and is also dedicated to her father, Ted.)

In a telephone interview, she described Mr Glasser as a voracious reader who “understood the value of original and reliable information”, saying he focused on “news and scoops” both as publisher and as a subscriber to three daily newspapers. “If you want people to pay for information, it has to be valuable to them,” she said. “It turned out to be a very useful insight into the transformations in journalism that he could not have imagined when he started his career.”