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Jane Lakes Harman Banner

Private Practice and International Politics

"No" represented a challenge, not an obstacle.

Jane Frank Harman. Letter of announcement on
Surrey & Morse stationery, May 19, 1982.

Jane Frank Harman. Mailing list, 1982.

After leaving the White House, Harman served for one year as special counsel to the Department of Defense, focusing on the implementation of recommended reforms in military retirement programs. In 1980, she married Sidney Harman, Chairman and CEO of Harman International Industries, a Fortune 500 manufacturer of hi-fidelity equipment.

Jane Harman returned to private practice in the 1980s. She was a partner in the Washington, D.C. offices of Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Tunney (1979-1982) and Surrey & Morse (1982-1986), which merged with Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in 1986.

This 1982 letter announcing her partnership with Surrey & Morse was sent to an impressive list of contacts - from Governor John D. Rockefeller to Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Pictures Association of America. In addition to recording her excitement at practicing international law again, Harman's letter announces the upcoming birth of her third child, Daniel Geier, who was followed by Justine Leigh in 1984. They joined Brian and Hilary Frank and Sidney Harman's four children from a previous marriage: Lynn, Barbara, Gina, and Paul Harman.

Jane and Sidney Harman were generous contributors to various Democratic campaigns in the 1980s, including California Assemblyman Mel Levine; U. S. Representatives Robert Byrd, Tom Daschle, and Nancy Pelosi; U.S. Senators Alan Cranston, Patrick Leahy, and George Mitchell. Jane Harman also supported a number of feminist groups, including the Women's Congressional Council and the Ms. Foundation.

Letters of appreciation to Jane and Sidney Harman, 1981-1988

the Democratic Party Gala '87 coordinator, Jane Harman, with her co-chairs Richard Dennis, Robert A. Farmer, Terry McAuliffe, Johnny Hayes, Bertram Lee, and Harold Soderberg, 7 October 1987.

Program book for the Democratic Party Gala '87.

Harman continued to be an active member of the Democratic Party in the 1980s. She coordinated Gala '87, which raised $2.2 million for the Democratic National Committee. As she wrote in the program book, "more of us must help fund our Party, or it will not continue to be the magnet that drew many of us as students into the political process." Harman served as counsel to the Democratic Platform Committee of the 1984 Democratic National Convention, chaired by Geraldine Ferraro (a close and lifelong friend). Harman also chaired the National Lawyers' Council of the Democratic National Committee from 1986 until 1991. Problems addressed by the Council included voting rights abuses and the constitutionality of political gerrymandering (redistricting).

"Kirk Appoints New 'National Lawyers' Council,' Chaired by Jane Harman." Press Release of the Democratic National Committee, 6 March 1986.

Jane Harman by Elaine Mode, 1988.

Women and the Constitution: A Bicentennial Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia: Carter Center of Emory University, 1988).

In February 1988, Harman participated in a symposium on women and the Constitution at the Carter Center of Emory University. She chaired a panel entitled "The Contemporary Supreme Court and Women." Her panelists included Ruth Bader Ginsburg, among others.

The conference was organized by First Ladies Rosalynn Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, and Pat Nixon. Plenary speakers included Barbara Jordan, Sandra Day O'Connor, Geraldine Ferraro, Coretta Scott King, and Bella Abzug, among others. While representing her firm, Harman was able to network with prominent American women jurists, educators, and lawyers.

Harman and all the featured speakers and panelists at the conference had one thing in common, according to Rosalynn Carter, "to them, the word 'no' represented a challenge, not an obstacle."

In 1988 Harman was selected to participate in election observations in Chile as part of a delegation from the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. On 5 October 1988, Harman watched with amazement as ninety-seven percent of the registered voters in Chile peacefully went to the polls to vote on whether General Augusto Pinochet, who engineered the military coup that toppled civilian President Salvador Allende fifteen years before, should serve for another eight years as Chile's President. Pinochet was rejected.

The following month, Harman was concerned when less than fifty percent of Americans voted in the U.S. presidential race that elected George Herbert Walker Bush. Ruminating about her experiences in South America, she wondered if, like Chile, "coalitions involving political parties as well as community and church organizations can substantially increase political participation" in the United States?

Letter from Walter F. Mondale, Chairman of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, to Jane Harman, 6 September 1988.

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