Share Your Story: More About Bennett Klein

Bennett Klein ’77, senior attorney, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders

On what he’s most proud of:
“A lot of people ask me what cases are most meaningful to me. The one that always comes to mind isn’t one of the most high-profile ones. In 2001, people with HIV were being denied organ transplants … Even though most of my cases involve people with HIV, there were few that involved life or death issues. I can remember two clients coming to me who were going to be dead in a mater of months unless we changed the law. Although they both died — one died after receiveing a liver transplant due to complications and one died while waiting — they got the same shot as anyone else at a chance to live, which is all you can ask for. It was an intense, emotional process of litigation. One that opened up doors.”

On his work:
“I never really expected I would have the chance to have my career be focused on work that was of such compelling personal importance to me. I feel grateful to have that opportunity.”

On his Beaver experience:
“While arguing the Bragdon V. Abbott case for the US Supreme Court, I knew that if we lost, basic anti-discrimination protections for people with HIV would have been in question. … At Beaver, I learned how to use language to persuade. Of my years in high school, college, and law school, my time at Beaver was the most powerful, the most memorable, and the most critical to anything I’ve done in my professional life.”

Advice to Beaver students:
“Communication skills, especially ability to write well, are very important. I notice the difference between the people who write well and who don’t … I feel incredibly lucky that I was drilled in grammar and punctuation [at Beaver]. College just doesn’t teach that. They should but they don’t.”

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