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News Posted on August 6, 2013

Arthur Chinski ’70 Honors Parents with Jack and Anna Chinski Family Classroom

Jack Chinski, a Polish immigrant and Holocaust survivor, loved the law.  After he died, the family found a poignant reminder of his passion for equality and social justice that prompted his son, Arthur Chinski '70, to make a generous gift to UC Davis School of Law in his honor.

"My father liked to type various things on an electric typewriter that I gave him as a way of practicing typing and practicing English," Chinski said.  "After he died, we found the last thing he had been typing. It was the U.S. Constitution, and he was about halfway through. That sort of triggered things for me."

Chinski, a shareholder at of Buchalter Nemer in Los Angeles, found himself thinking about his father's interest in the law, and feeling grateful to his family for providing him with the opportunity to attend UC Davis School of Law. He decided to make a gift in memory of his father and in honor of his mother, naming the Jack and Anna Chinski Family Classroom.

"My father was the son of a tailor in one of the small shtetl towns in Europe before the Holocaust," Chinski said. "My grandfather was a leader in the Jewish Council, which among other things assured education and help for the poor. People used to come to him to ask him to resolve various problems. My father was always at his side."

After a "pogrom" during which Polish Nazis burned down the Jewish section of the town, Chinski's grandfather became a kind of community activist, helping to form a coalition of Jews and Christians to deal with the issue of injustices and rebuilding the town.  

"My family was threatened by the instigators of the pogrom," Chinski said. "My father, although young and frightened, learned that sometimes you have to speak up against intolerance and prejudice and take actions to bring diverse people together, even if not popular.  He instilled this in all his children and grandchildren. He never had the kind of opportunities that I've had, but my father always maintained his interest in law and justice and volunteered with organizations such as Bet Tzedek Legal Services."

Arthur Chinski was born in Poland just after the end of World War II. After a period of time spent living in a displaced persons camp, the family immigrated to the United States, living first in Dallas, then moving to Los Angeles, where his father owned a tailor shop. Chinski enrolled at King Hall in 1967, shortly after graduating from UCLA. These were the early years for UC Davis School of Law, when classes were held in bungalows and other buildings around the UC Davis campus, but Chinski appreciated the small class sizes and the opportunity to study with outstanding scholars including Dean Edward L. Barrett and Professors Dan Dykstra, Jim Hogan, and Edgar Bodenheimer.

"I was interested in constitutional law, and Dean Barrett was just phenomenal," he said.  "Edgar Bodenheimer was also very influential on me, because he had been a prosecutor during the Nuremberg trials, which was important to me because I knew where my parents had come from."

Inspired by the sense of social responsibility that prevailed at King Hall, Chinski put his training in constitutional law to work as an attorney with the National Labor Relations Board in Los Angeles. In 1974 he joined Buchalter Nemer, where he represents private and public companies and management in a wide range of industries in all areas of employment relations and labor law. He also has taught as an adjunct professor at Southwestern University School of Law, published articles on employment and labor law, and participates in numerous labor and employment law programs for attorneys and management.

Recently, Chinski returned to the newly expanded and renovated King Hall with his mother to visit the classroom named in honor of his parents.  "It was almost overwhelming to be there and to remember those classes years ago in the bungalows," he said. "The new part of the building is very impressive, as is the restoration of the older parts. I'm proud my family has been a part of it."