Friday, July 27, 2001
Southwestern Alumnus Adds to Library—a Book at a Time
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
Alan Friedenthal isn’t the kind of person who writes a check to his old alma mater and that’s the end of it.
Friedenthal, a Sherman Oaks attorney, prefers a much more active approach to supporting his alma mater, Southwestern University School of Law.
A 1983 graduate of the school, he makes sure Southwestern, and its library, is on his mind every time he’s in a used bookstore, even if he’s half a world away.
Looking to add to the Southwestern Law Library in what he calls “a one-man pet-project,” Friedenthal lets his fingers do the walking as he thumbs through volumes of lawyer-related books in used book stores across the country and even the world.
“I believe a law school’s legacy is its library,” Friedenthal said. “I thought we should have a great library.”
So Friedenthal began keeping his eyes open for any kind of books that might be of interest to the school, and approached an old classmate of his, Southwestern Law Library Director Linda Whisman, with the idea of donating the books.
With Whisman’s approval, the books began rolling in, with Friedenthal calling the law library to make sure they don’t already have the titles he’s picked out.
Acquiring a fondness for books on British law after a few trips to London, Friedenthal developed a new specialization in the area and has contributed numerous out-of-print British law books.
Since he began donating lawyer-related books to the school in 1994, his collection has reached into the thousands, ranging from popular literature featuring lawyers, juries, trials, and judges to biographies of Supreme Court justices and discussions of actual trials.
Nearly every book of popular lawyer-related fiction in Southwestern’s law library bears his name on the donor plate.
“Alan just loves books,” Southwestern Development Officer Debbie Leathers said. “He’s made it his goal to increase the library collection.”
Whisman said Friedman’s commitment and dedication to the project is unusual when most alumni give back to the school by donating money instead of time.
“It’s really unusual for an alumni to do something that takes their own time and effort to develop,” Whisman said. “He’s taking the time to research and find what books fit into our collection when the most we usually get is a check.”
But books aren’t the only thing Friedenthal is interested in giving to the library.
The son of a former MGM film technician, Friedenthal has also donated over 350 videotapes featuring lawyer-related movies and television programs to the library’s video collection, most of which he has acquired on eBay and from used video stores.
“I just have a passion for movies,” Friedenthal, a Los Angeles native, said. “I guess you have to growing up around here.”
Episodes of “Perry Mason,” “Star Trek,” and “Mr. District Attorney” are included in the collection as well as the more traditional legal movies “Twelve Angry Men,” “Kramer v. Kramer,” and “A Few Good Men.”
Southwestern students and faculty uses Friedenthal’s gift in both intellectual and educational ways.
Professors use clips from the videotapes to illustrate particular trial techniques or other legal concepts while students use the books and videos for both research and pleasure while taking a break from a demanding schedule.
“If you don’t have a life as a law student you’re either going to flunk out or have a nervous breakdown,” Friedenthal said.
He also said he hopes his donations could serve as a way for the entertainment industry to research particular legal issues and the way they have been dealt with in the past.
While Friedenthal began the project as a one-man operation, he says he hopes that other alumni would join in.
“I’m sure I’ve only made a dent,” he said. “I only wish that ten more alumni would do something just like this.”
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company