Anna Weiner Hochfelder
Anna Weiner Hochfelder used her legal expertise to help women’s groups serve their members more effectively. Once admitted to the bar, she practiced with her husband Julius until she was appointed assistant corporation council for New York City in 1923. After ten years, she left to become executive secretary of the New York United Parents Association from 1933 to 1935. Hochfelder served as founding president of the American Alliance of Civil Service Women from 1912 to 1938 and legal advisor to the New York Federation of Women’s Clubs from 1922 to 1938. In 1940, upon moving to California, Hochfelder continued her career in law while her husband raised their children. From 1946 to 1953 she served as a deputy public defender in Los Angeles, then went into private practice with her son Julian.
Background and Early Life
To make a successful career move from New York to California, a married woman needs flexibility and an unusual spouse. Julius Hochfelder, whom Anna Weiner married on June 17, 1906, was a rare, adoring, helping husband and, with their two sons Julian (b. 1908) and Richard (b. 1910), they were a close-knit, devoted family. Individualists, the Hochfelder sons called themselves Julian Harmon and Richard Elder.
Anna Weiner Hochfelder, daughter of Herman and Henrietta (LaFrantz) Weiner, was born in Lask, Poland, on May 1, 1883, and came to the United States in 1885. She had at least three sisters and one brother. Educated in New York public schools, she earned a B.A. from Hunter College (1903) and an LL.B. (1908) and J.D. (1915) from New York University.
Her husband, Julius Hochfelder, was born in Hungary and came to the United States in 1888. A large, sturdy man, considered a genius, he was a highly educated (LL.B., Ph.D.) patent lawyer, author, organizer of the Seaman’s Evening College, director of the Homework Protective League and, in World War I, member of the Jewish Welfare Board.
From 1903 to 1914, Anna Hochfelder taught in public and Hebrew schools; while she studied law, she was a probation officer in the New York City Children’s Court from 1914 to 1919. Admitted to the bar, Julius and Anna practiced together until 1923, when she was appointed assistant corporation counsel in New York City. In 1933, she left that post and became executive secretary of the New York United Parents Association, serving until 1935. She was legal adviser to the New York City Federation of Women’s Clubs from 1922 to 1938.
Hochfelder, a founder of the American Alliance of Civil Service Women in 1912, was its president from 1912 until 1938. Active in Democratic politics, she was vice president of the Sixteenth Assembly District Democratic Club from 1923 to 1938.
In 1940, at fifty-seven, Hochfelder and her family moved to Hollywood, California, where some of Anna’s family lived. Julius Hochfelder retired and, ignoring the then-traditional role of men in marriage, ran the household while Anna started a second career.
Admitted to the California bar in 1940, she practiced with Nadia Williams for two years. From 1944 to 1946, she was a civil service personnel technician, and from 1946 to 1953 a deputy public defender in Los Angeles. After her son Julian was admitted to the bar in 1954, she practiced with him until 1966. She was a family law consultant to the American Institute of Family Relations. Her son Richard was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army until sometime in the 1960s.
A conservative Jew, Anna Hochfelder was a member of the American Jewish Congress and Hadassah. She joined the National Association of Women Lawyers and the New York County and Southern California Lawyers Associations.
Hochfelder, a small, dynamic woman, was a spirited and gifted leader with an easy, friendly smile and gracious manner. She exuded a confidence that came from experience and a supportive family. However, in the 1960s, disaster ravaged the family. Julius Hochfelder died, and Julian Harmon, her son and law partner, died at fifty-eight in 1966. Two years later, seventy-eight-year-old Anna Hochfelder died on November 16, 1968. After funeral services at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park Chapel, she was buried in the Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California.
Los Angeles Times, November 18, 1968.
Nathan, Marilyn Kemeny, and Joan Kemeny Paru. Interviews by author, October 1996.
Thomas, Dorothy. Women Lawyers in the U.S. (1957).
Who’s Who of American Women. 3d ed. (1964–1965).