By Louis G. Adolfsen, Esq.
Many years ago, as a young lawyer, I worked at a law firm which still exists today, Roberts & Holland LLP. The firm specialized in taxation and one of the senior partners, Sidney Roberts, was known all around the world for his treatise, written with William C. Warren, entitled “U.S. Income Taxation of Foreign Corporations and Non-Resident Aliens.” Among the lawyers at the firm was a lawyer named Jesse Silverman who had been the editor in chief of Columbia Law Review. William C. Warren or “Bill” Warren, the former dean of Columbia Law School, and the co-author of the treatise, was of counsel to the firm. All three of these men were highly regarded tax lawyers who frequently discussed complex tax issues among themselves often in meetings that I attended. Invariably, I recall Sidney Roberts saying, “What does Marty Ginsburg have to say about this?” I had no idea who Marty Ginsburg was. I also could not understand why Sidney Roberts, who was such a brilliant lawyer, would always ask in a meeting with other highly regarded lawyers, what some person at another law firm had thought about the subject. I never found out why.
Flash forward decades later and I am at my present law firm. I like to go to the movies and one of my choices was to see “RBG,” the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Early on in the movie I learned of her marriage to a man named Martin Ginsburg and that he became a tax lawyer. He played a large role in the movie as a husband and confidant but other than that I did not give it much thought. Then, the light went on! The man that Sidney Roberts was talking about was the husband of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It is hard for me to explain, without sounding like I am exaggerating, that Roberts & Holland was no ordinary firm. The firm represented the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Eric Clapton and all sorts of famous and foreign entertainers who had enormous tax issues. The firm was well known in many areas of taxation. It was almost like being at a university where you were listening to the most highly regarded professors discuss the complex issues. Why they cared about what Marty Ginsburg had to say was a mystery to me. But now the mystery is solved!