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Harry Philo Papers

Identifier: UP002661

Scope and Content

This collection consists of a series of scrapbooks which contain news clippings, flyers, brochures, booklets, telegrams, correspondence, research and publications written by Harry Philo, news releases, photographs, speeches, presentations, and other materials that reflect Harry Philo's career as a trial lawyer in Detroit. Notable subjects and correspondents include: the STRESS program, Kenneth Cockrel, and Justin Ravitz.


  • 1965 - 1994


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


Harry Maurice Philo was born in 1924 in Glens Falls, NY. He attended Union College and from there enlisted in the Army in World War II where he gained his first trial experience in courts martial. In 1959, he earned his law degree from the Detroit College of Law while working as a UAW organizer on the assembly line at Ford Motor Company’s River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, MI. Known for its social activism, his first law firm was Goodman, Eden, Crockett, and Robb; which was one of the first racially integrated law firms in the country at that time. In 1968 he opened a new firm in Detroit and was later joined by notable lawyers: Kenneth Cockrel and Justin C. Ravitz.

During his career he took part in several landmark cases, including being lead counsel in Shavers v. Kelley (1978), McDonough v General Motors Corp (1972), and Funk v. General Motors Corp (1974).

He served as the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association president for two terms from 1972-1974. Philo was also an early member of the National Association of Claimants’ Compensation Attorneys; a member of a group of trial lawyers who travelled the country providing free instructional seminars to younger lawyers; and was an Association of Trial Lawyers (ATLA, predecessor to the American Association for Justice) member for 30 years. Philo served as president of the ATLA from 1980-1981. He was also honored with the establishment of the Harry Philo Award for leadership in protecting the rights of individuals through the civil justice system in the early 1990s.

Additionally he authored and was editor of numerous articles, books, and audio recordings on trial practice, including the Lawyers Desk Reference and Trial Handbook for Michigan Lawyers.


9 Linear Feet (3 OS)


Harry Philo had the reputation as one of the most notable personal injury, constitutional and civil rights Lawyers on the Side of People in the US. His career based primarily in Detroit, spanned from 1959 through the 1990s. This collection is a reflection of Philo’s work as a trial lawyer.


Folders are listed by their location within each box. They are not necessarily arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout the entire collection.


This collection was donated to the Walter P. Reuther Library in October 2015 by Harry Philo, Jr.

Related Materials

The Damon J. Keith Law Collection and Kenneth V. and Sheila M. Cockrel Papers.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Elizabeth Nicholson on July 30, 2018.
Guide to the Harry Philo Papers
Processed by Elizabeth Nicholson.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA