Max Nathan Jr., a lawyer, Shakespearean scholar and mentor to law students and junior lawyers for more than half a century, died at his home in New Orleans on Sunday. He was 86 years old.
Nathan was born in Shreveport and attended school there. He won a full debate scholarship to Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., Where he was elected student body president in his senior year and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, before entering Yale Law School. .
But he wanted to practice law in Louisiana, and in order to do that, he learned he would have to attend law school in Louisiana. So he transferred in his final year to Tulane, where he served on the Law Review, graduated with distinction, and was elected to the Order of the Headdress, an academic honor society for students. in law, wrote her daughter, Kathryn Leigh Nathan in an article for the New Orleans Bar Association.
It was during his law school that Nathan discovered a fundamental error in Louisiana law. Going through the Napoleon Code, which had been translated from Latin and French, Nathan, who had studied both languages, saw that “current” had been incorrectly translated as “real” instead of “at the present time” in a section of state law on judicial mortgages. , wrote his daughter.
While it might seem trivial, the correction required rewriting entire parts of the Louisiana Civil Code, she wrote. For his scholarship, his father won an award from the Tulane Law Review.
It was an example of the scholarship that led Jacques Weiner Jr., a friend since childhood and a retired 5th United States Court of Appeals judge, to call Nathan “the brightest person I have ever seen. I have never known “.
“He had an insatiable curiosity for everything,” Weiner said. “He was a real genius.”
By the time Nathan graduated in law, the bar exam did not exist. Taking the test became a requirement for practicing law in 1965, and for over 40 years Nathan taught the revision course for law school graduates preparing for it.
Nathan, who was with the New Orleans law firm bearing his name – Sessions, Fishman, Nathan & Israel – specialized in estates, trusts and estates. He retired in 2019.
He also taught at Tulane Law School, where his attention to students became a legend. At the end of Nathan’s last class in the 2015 academic year, dozens of faculty and staff walked into the classroom to surprise him with a tribute for his 50 years of teaching.
He was a member of the inaugural Tulane Law School Hall of Fame Class in 2013.
Nathan has served on a multitude of Jewish-related organizations and has been honored by several of them. He led the local Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Family Services, and was a former board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and Temple Sinai.
He was also one of the founders of the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival. In addition to serving on its advisory board, he participated in the New Orleans Shakespeare Society’s annual reading at Antoine’s restaurant of a play by the Bard of Avon.
Survivors, all from New Orleans, include his companion, Fran Swan; four daughters, Nancy Gold Nathan, Kathryn Leigh Nathan, Marcy Nathan and Courtney Nathan; and four grandchildren. His wife, Dotty Lee Gold Nathan, died in 1988.
Funeral and burial will be private. The Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home will make the arrangements.
Throughout his multifaceted career and rich life – as a lawyer, educator, author, community activist, and volunteer – Max Nathan Jr. has rec…