Stephen J Pollak

Stephen J. Pollak

Retired Partner
Stephen J. Pollak


Stephen J. Pollak, a former Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice and Advisor to President Johnson for National Capital Affairs, died at home in Washington, DC on February 3. He was 95.

Stephen’s outstanding career in public service spanned six decades of passionate commitment to equal rights and racial justice. He was a vital contributor to three of the most consequential advances in Federal civil rights legislation of the 20th century: enforcing the Civil Rights Act of 1964; drafting and enactment of the Fair Housing Act of 1968; and, most notably, drafting and enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and defense of the Act in the US Supreme Court.

Stephen’s contributions to the legal profession are numerous. He was a member of the Panel of Mediators for the US Court of Appeals – DC Circuit since 1989, and became Chair in 2016. He conducted his last mediation in December of 2023. He was President of the DC Bar and the DC Bar Foundation, and he was a Commissioner of the DC Access to Justice Commission. He chaired the DC Judicial Nominations Commission twice. And he was Chair, President and member of the Board of Directors of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit, serving for over 30 years and leading the Society’s Oral History Program.

Stephen was born on the south side of Chicago, he grew up on the north side in Highland Park where he was an Eagle Scout. At Dartmouth College he wrote a paper entitled “What Are We Americans Doing About Racial Discrimination” and was captain of the swim team. He served in the Navy throughout college and as an Officer of The Deck on several ships, including the destroyer USS Borie in Korea during the Korean War. He was Managing Editor of the law review at Yale Law School after he was discharged from the Navy in 1953.

Stephen is survived by his wife Ruth, four children and their partners, eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild, with another on the way. He leaves an amazing legacy of service, justice, and love.