Prominent lawyer Frieda Levin Lorber helped other women rise in the profession in New York and worldwide. Although her first passion was music, after seeing her brother become a successful lawyer, she earned her law degree from New York University in 1936 and practiced commercial and real estate law with him for many years. She was president of the New York Women’s Bar Association from 1949 to 1951 and chaired its judiciary committee from 1955 to 1958. In 1961 she was a delegate of the International Federation of Women Lawyers to the United Nations and later was a representative to the UN’s Human Rights Commission.
A prominent New York attorney and fund-raiser for a number of Jewish causes, Frieda Lorber accomplished much during her long and distinguished legal career.
Frieda Levin Lorber was born in New York City on May 7, 1899, to Sigmund Levin, a real estate developer, and Clara (Bergman) Levin. In her early years, Frieda was extremely interested in classical music. She studied voice at the Institute of Music and Art and sang with the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera. On December 7, 1924, she married Albert Lorber. The Lorbers, who divorced in the early 1940s, had one child, Mortimer, who became a doctor.
Frieda Lorber had always excelled academically. She was valedictorian of her high school class and graduated summa cum laude from New York University in 1936. Lorber’s younger brother, Emil Levin, was a lawyer. Admiring him and observing that he enjoyed the legal profession, she decided to attend law school. She received her law degree from New York University Law School in 1938 and was admitted to the bar two years later. She and her brother, former commissioner of the State Human Rights Appeals Board, practiced commercial and real estate law together for many years. In 1959, she obtained a master’s degree in law from Columbia University.
A few years after graduation, Lorber became the director of the division of coordination and research for the Department of Investigation of the City of New York. She held this position from 1944 to 1946. Other prominent positions followed in quick succession. From 1949 to 1951, she served as the president of the New York Women’s Bar Association. In 1956, she became an arbitrator in the small claims section of the Brooklyn civil court. She was chair of the Women’s Bar Association’s judiciary committee from 1955 to 1958, and of its equal opportunity for women committee in 1960. In 1961, she was a delegate of the International Federation of Women Lawyers to the United Nations nongovernment organizations section and later was a representative to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Additionally, she served as chair of the house committee of the New York County Lawyers Association and was a member of several other bar associations.
In addition to her legal career, Lorber devoted a substantial amount of time to fund-raising for Jewish causes. In 1949, she served as chair of the women lawyers’ committee of the United Jewish Appeal–Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and was cochair of the State of Israel Bond Campaign. Reflecting her lifelong love for music, she sponsored an international music competition for the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies in 1961. She was also a member of Hadassah.
Frieda Lorber died on September 28, 1976, at age seventy-seven. Her life reflected a blend of dedication to professional goals, concern about the welfare of others, and an abiding interest in Jewish causes.
Lorber, Mortimer. Telephone interview by author, June 19, 1996.
Obituary. NYTimes, September 30, 1976, 44:3.
Who’s Who of American Women (1964–1965, 1968–1969).