1,000 Lawyers Laugh, For Federation
05/30/14
Jewish Week Online Columnist
Chief Judge Cecelia G. Morris and Daniel H. Golden. Courtesy of UJA-Federation
Chief Judge Cecelia G. Morris and Daniel H. Golden. Courtesy of UJA-Federation

You don’t ordinarily expect laughs when you meet with lawyers. Especially the breed that deals with issues of bankruptcy and reorganization.

Yet 1,100 such counselors, who packed the grand ballroom of a New York Hilton for a UJA fundraising luncheon, did have a moment of fun.

Ira Dizengoff, a financial restructuring partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, was tasked with introducing the guest of honor, Daniel H. Golden, a partner at his law firm.

Ira recalled a lunch he and Daniel had with the co-founder of a well-known hedge fund. Before starting his hedge fund, the gentleman used to be Daniel’s associate at Akin Gump more than 20 years ago.

In the middle of their discussion, the hedge fund friend said, “You know, Danny, you have had such a lasting impact on me as a young lawyer that I still think of you as my boss.”

Without skipping a beat Daniel replied, “That was very kind of you to say, but if that’s the case how come you don’t hire us more often?”

That cracked up the audience, which included Chief Judge Cecelia G. Morris of the Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court.

Daniel earned his law degree at New York University, where he took Professor Lawrence P. King’s secured transactions course. He credits his mother with launching his legal career. After six months of Daniel lying around the house, she told him to “Get the hell out of bed and find a job.”

He found a spot at Marcus & Angel “in a field I knew absolutely nothing about.” No matter. Leon Marcus “taught me not the law but the fine art of chasing business while firing me four times in the three-year stint at his firm.”

Daniel has been an attorney for 35 years, and has been attending these UJA luncheons for 25 years. Now it was his turn to be on stage to receive the Professor Lawrence P. King Award. He helped bring in $1.5 million.

Not remembering how he did in the professor’s course, Daniel went to the NYU’s registrar to get the transcript. “Having now reviewed those grades,” he said, “I am not sure Professor King would have endorsed my selection.”

As for his mother, Daniel was sure she would be proud—and astonished.

As he accepted award, he said he learned two things at these events.

“First, it’s better to be up here than sitting down there eating cold chicken. And second, I fully intend to be brief.”

Tim Boxer was a columnist at the New York Post for two decades. He has been writing a column for The Jewish Week for 35 years and is a writer/photographer at 15MinutesMagazine.com. He is the author of “Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame,” interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.

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05/30/2014 - 12:22

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