The Virginia State Bar has awarded one of its highest honors, the Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award, to Philip J. Hirschkop. The award, sponsored by the VSB’ s Criminal Law Section, recognizes an individual who has made a singular and unique contribution to the improvement of the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Hirschkop has participated in a number of precedent setting and pivotal cases, including Loving v. Virginia and Kirstein, et al. v. The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, etc. et al. The former overturned the laws in the United States that made interracial marriage illegal; the latter opened the doors of U.Va. and other Virginia universities to women. Hirschkop also helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia in 1969 and has held a number of positions with the ACLU. He represented, among many others, American Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell, civil rights leader H. Rap Brown, and the anti-Vietnam War protestors known as the Chicago Eight and the DC Five. Other cases Hirschkop was involved with abolished teachers’ maternity leave policies as illegal gender discrimination, protecting the rights of thousands of female teachers; overturned laws that banned the teaching of evolution; protected the free speech of lawyers; established due process rights for prisoners; and desegregated the Virginia prison system.
In a letter nominating Hirschkop for the award, John P. McGeehan of McGeehan Pascale PLC, wrote, “The names of (Hirschkop’s) clients may be forgotten, but the law he helped make is not forgotten. Today, he represents People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and thus his passion and heart extends to God’s other creatures.”
McGeehan added, “Mr. Hirschkop successfully removed the barriers to women attending the University of Virginia. When I sat for the bar, people told me that he destroyed U.Va. Since then, my daughter graduated from that university with two degrees and many of the bar’s female lawyers attended U.Va.’s undergraduate school and law school. How many people know that today? No doubt, Phil has been hated, but do we honor the lawyer who never put his professional and physical life at risk, or the one who does?”
In a note to McGeehan, Hirschkop wrote: “I am most proud of the work I did representing the peace movement in the years 1965 through1972. We were instrumental in stopping a terrible war.” He represented Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Dick Gregory, Norman Mailer, Philip and Daniel Berrigan, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Abbe Hoffman, and many others.
Hirschkop received an undergraduate degree from Columbia College in 1960, another in mechanical engineering in 1961 from Columbia University, and his law degree in 1964 from Georgetown University Law Center. He has been a Fellow on the Virginia Law Foundation since 1992 and served on the VSB Council, the bar’s governing body, for six years. He has also served on a long list of Virginia and national law-related organizations.
Photo: Colette Wallace McEachin, Chair of the VSB Criminal Law Section, presents Philip L. Hirschkop with the Harry L. Carrico Award.Updated: Feb 09, 2017
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