Fanney Neyman ’21


2 July 1922 — Anaconda Standard — “Miss Fanny Neyman Attorney at Law”

+++++“Bearing the distinction of being the youngest woman ever admitted to the bar in the state of Montana, Miss Fanny Neyman this spring began the practice of law in Butte and continues daily to build up a wonderful clientele.
+++++Miss Neyman is entirely a Butte product, having been born and reared in this city and educated here. During her school years she became very much interested in civics and commercial law, which later led to her taking up the study of law with the idea of making this her profession. She was admitted to the bar for practice in all courts in January of this year. Since that time Miss Neyman has been associated in the practice of law with James E. Murray [later United States senator from Montana, 1934-1961], 55 West Broadway, where her untiring devotion to her chosen work promises to the city of Butte a successful professional woman who will become prominently identified in its public affairs.
+++++In the short period of her practice, Miss Neyman has made many successful appearances in the various courts and in each case demonstrated traits of tact and talent which have elicited high compliments from the members of the bar here.”


From “Broadcasting,” 31 January 1944, 41-42:

“Our Respects To — Fanney Neyman Litvin

+++++Arguing a case before the District Court of Appeals a few years back, a black haired young woman, eyes snapping, was letting her tongue run a mile a second pleading her case. Abruptly the venerable Justice Hitz leaned down from the bench and stopped her short. ‘Fanney Neyman,’ he said, shaking a finger in the young lawyer’s face, ‘you back up. You’re exceeding the speed limit.’
+++++Speed limits, detours, untravelled roads are nothing more than a challenge to Fanney Neyman Litvin. The first woman lawyer — and the only one for ten years — in the Federal Communications Commission, she is now celebrating her 15th year with the law department.
+++++She arrived at the newly-formed division in December 1928 when it was the Federal Radio Commission. Louis G. Caldwell, the chief, could scarcely have hoped for anyone with more interest or background for the job than eager Fanny Neyman. While working with the late Sen. Thomas J. Walsh (D-Mont.), and going to George Washington Law School, though she already was a member of the D. C. Bar, she attended as many as possible of the hearings on the original radio bill. That was 1925-26-27. Not only did she sit in on the hearings, but she also combed the Library of Congress for books and articles on radio and the regulations of communications.
+++++‘From then on,’ she said, ‘there was no question as to what I was going to do.’ And when the Commission was formed, Fanney Neyman was one of the first to join the staff.
+++++Today the files of her bibliography on communications, the law governing them, and the disputes concerning them cover a side of her office. Her communications files — radio, telephone, telegraph — go back to the exploratory, pioneering days of 1903, and follow the history up through the formative years to the present.
+++++They form endless answers to the endless questions that stream into Mrs. Litvin’s office daily in the FCC Broadcast Section. They are a main source of information for the rules and regulations she draws up for the Commission. She uses them when reviewing the position for rehearings of broadcast cases that go through her busy office. And the Commission refers to them constantly.
+++++But Fanney Neyman’s job is more comprehensive than her separate duties would imply. She is the walking encyclopedia of the FCC. Rosel Hyde, FCC Assistant General Counsel in charge of broadcasting, who joined the Commission at the same time, and incidentally, attended classes with her at George Washington U., says of her, ‘Fanney is the kind of person that has to be available to all groups at all times. She is our “congressman-at-large.”‘
+++++Mr. Hyde enjoys telling of Mrs. Litvin’s college days when she was the only woman in the law classes. ‘But don’t think that made her shy,’ he says, with a twinkle. ‘Fanney would get to the root of a question or die in the attempt. And she’d argue with Lucifer if she knew she was right. But I guess that is what makes her so thorough. We all know here that if a job is given to Fanney Neyman she’ll do it — and well.’
+++++When Mr. Hyde had an appendectomy some time ago, Mrs. Litvin took over until he returned. ‘And as usual she did a fine piece of work.’
+++++Speaking of her college days, Mrs. Litvin went through her higher education at full speed — backwards. She precociously graduated from high school at 15. That was in Butte, Montana, where she was born in 1900. Having career ideas, she choose the Silver Bow Law College in Butte as the next step.
+++++And so, a full-fledged lawyer when she graduated from Silver Bow in 1921, young Fanney Neyman got herself a job as secretary for Jim Murray, who had hung his attorney-at-law shingle in Butte and who is now junior Democratic senator from Montana. There she met Senator Walsh. ‘We practically set up Democratic headquarters in that office,’ she recalls.
+++++Everything was progressing beautifully toward her career, when Fanney decided she would like a college degree to hang beside her law degree. So she had the courage to enter Montana State College as a freshman. After flying through her academic courses there, she looked to greener fields and the inevitable happened — Fanney Neyman went to Washington.
+++++Still with educational gears in reverse, she matriculated at George Washington U. Law School to obtain a degree from a large, fully accredited law college. By that time, she was already a member of the D. C. Bar, and working practically full-time for Sen. Walsh. But the schedule was under control, and in 1928, very much of a lawyer, Fanney Neyman received her LL.D. from George Washington University.
+++++But Fanney’s education is a progressive thing. Among stacks of law and radio books on her desk is a copy of the Wartime Refresher in Fundamental Mathematics. She has an insatiable curiosity that lights up her eyes every time something new catches her interest. If she hadn’t chosen the law and communications, she would undoubtedly have made an ace reporter.
+++++In 1938 Fanney Neyman was married to ‘a really splendid person,’ a psychiatrist and lawyer, Dr. Philip Litvin. He is now at Camp Hulin, Texas, serving as a major in the Medical Corps. Mrs. Litvin tells about the time she was in court with him shortly after they were married. She was moving his admission to the District Bar when the judge turned to a clerk and shouted in a stage whisper, ‘That’s Mrs. Neyman’s husband.’
+++++She’ll never live it down.
+++++One of Mrs. Litvin’s pet pleasures is traveling. ‘If I have an avocation,’ she says, ‘that’s it.’ She has been to every state in the Union, Canada, England and France. England captured her heart completely, ‘but I loved France, too. And Canada is very beautiful, but of course there is nothing lovelier than the United States.’
+++++That’s typical of Fanney Litvin. She is intrigued by everything. Her tremendous vitality spends itself in a thousand different ways on a thousand different things a day. She makes a hobby of her husband, communications, law, travel, people, and especially her 12-lb. pussy-cat, ‘Slug.’
+++++With all her thoroughness, insistence on ‘the right way to do it,’ her deep knowledge of her work, Mrs. Litvin is still a very human, vital person. She loves to hear or tell a good story. A very feminine ‘un-lawyerlike’ perfume floats across her desk, and ‘her girls’ in the next office bring her a glass of orange juice every day to ‘keep up her vitamin B.’
+++++Little things like that are the key to a woman. They tell more about her than the fact that she is a member of the Federal, D. C., and Montana Bar Associations; the National Women Lawyers; the Medical Auxiliary and several college organizations.
+++++But the greater part of her time and energy are dedicated to the FCC. The fifteen years she has spent there are worthy of congratulations. And also because this Tuesday (Feb. 1) is her birthday, may we add, Happy Birthday, Fanney.”


Why did Neyman become a lawyer?:

+++++“While walking down a sidewalk in Butte, my father was pinned against a building and killed by a runaway truck driven by a 17-year-old boy and owned by the Anaconda Company. A lawsuit was filed, but when it didn’t get very far I made up my mind I wanted to see what this was all about.”

+++++Rich Aure, “Butte heritage lingers with Washington trio,” Great Falls Tribune, 2 May 1982


Born:

+++++1 February 1900, in Butte, Montana

Parents:

+++++Davis Neyman and Dora Rachel Shapiro

Siblings:

+++++3 brothers and 1 sister

Education:

  • High School, Butte, Montana in 1915
  • LL.B., Silver Bow Law School 1919-1921
  • Montana State University, Bozeman 1924-1925
  • LL.D., George Washington Law School 1925-1928

Admission to Practice:

  • Montana 1921
  • D. C. 1927
  • United States Supreme Court 1933

Married:

+++++Dr. Philip Litvin, on 2 July 1938

Employment:

  • Secretary and Bookkeeper (Butte), Hon. James E. Murray, 1918-1921
  • Private practice (Butte); associate of Hon. James E. Murray, 1921-1924
  • Law Clerk, Office of Hon. Thomas J. Walsh, Senior Senator from Montana, D.C., 1925-1928
  • Attorney, Federal Radio Commission, 1928-1934
  • Attorney, Federal Communication Commission, 1934-1947
  • FCC Hearing Examiner/Administrative Law Judge, 1947-1955
  • Private Practice as communications lawyer primarily representing radio stations, 1955-1965 (?)

Married:

+++++Dr. Philip Litvin on 2 July 1938 (neuropsychiatrist and lawyer)
+++++Philip died 20 August 1951

Died:

+++++28 January 1991

Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Fanney liked to travel, entertain, go to the theater; she loved her cats. She was active in the Montana State Society in D. C.
  • Fanney took a trip around the world, 17 April 1965 – 22 May 1965
  • She worked far more than eight hour shifts — she worked nights and weekends.
  • Jewish
  • Fanney was about five feet tall with dark brown hair and dark eyes. She was petite and dressed conservatively.

[More to follow]

One thought on “Fanney Neyman ’21

  1. Pingback: “Butte’s Two Women Lawyers” | Montana's Early Women Lawyers: Trail-blazing, Big Sky Sisters-in-Law

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