A friend recently sent me a YouTube video entitled “Rappers Love Jewish Lawyers.” The mash-up consisted of more 25 rap songs that referred to Jewish lawyers in one way or another, mostly positively (“I had a Jewish lawyer/and he aced the case,” “young Jewish bulldog/keeping the case right,” “a good Jewish lawyer/turn a 10 to a 2-4.”) Everyone from Jim Jones to Kanye West is rapping about their Jewish lawyers, putting them somewhere between women in hot tubs and money to toss among the things rappers want.
This desire for a Jewish lawyer has fascinated me for a long time. First, I’m a Jew. (Despite the name Johnson, I’m Jewish–the product of a Jewish woman and a North Dakotan, who converted for marriage). Second, I’m a lawyer, and for three years I was a public defender in Manhattan. I’ve heard the request for a Jewish lawyer on many occasions, almost exclusively from African-American defendants. They often didn’t want a Johnson, but rather a Horowitz or a Silverman.