William Josephson

William Josephson

  • Of Counsel
  • Corporate
  • New York
  • T:   +1.212.859.8220
  • F:   +1.212.859.4000
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William Josephson, resident in the New York office, is now a retired partner of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. His expertise in tax-exempt organizations led him to retire from Fried Frank, having become a partner in 1967, to become the Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Charities Bureau in the New York State Department of Law from 1999 to 2004 under former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.  Mr. Josephson continues to speak and write on issues concerning philanthropy in the United States. He has represented both donors and donees including with respect to major endowments.

Mr. Josephson's career in public service and in the private sector, through his Fried Frank law practice, continues to the present day. Beginning with his joining Fried, Frank in 1966, he served as counsel to New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay's Human Resources Study Group and thereafter worked on a number of Lindsay Administration initiatives, including the Community School District System and Neighborhood Government. He represented the New York City Employees' Retirement System in the refinancing of New York City, its divestment from South African investments, and other matters from the mid-1970s until the early 1980s. From 1967 until his retirement, he represented The City University of New York and its Construction Fund in many matters including its tax-exempt bond issues. He is representing pro bono the New York State Law Revision Commission in the reenactment of the New York Not-for-Profit Corporation Law. Mr. Josephson recently successfully represented the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance pro bono when New York City denied its real property tax exemption on the sole ground that DPA was an "advocacy" organization.

Mr. Josephson has testified many times before various Senate and House Committees. His opinions on nonprofit issues are frequently reported in The New York Times, Washington Post, Chronicle of Philanthropy and other publications.

Mr. Josephson has also written many articles for legal publications, including Repairing the Electoral College, The Electoral College and the Popular Vote and Senate Election of the Vice President and House Election of the President. He teaches tax-exempt organizations at New York University's Heyman Center on Philanthropy. He has taught courses at George Washington, Cardozo and Brooklyn Law Schools.

He has been a director of many nonprofits, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and American Friends of Mendelssohn House in Leipzig.

Mr. Josephson is the senior advisor for the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute. He was a long-time partner, friend and colleague of Sargent Shriver. In late 1960, with a State Department colleague, Warren W. Wiggins, Mr. Josephson co-authored The Towering Task, a paper that captured the imagination of Sargent Shriver and contributed directly to the design and scope of the Peace Corps. Mr. Josephson continued to work with Sargent Shriver at the Peace Corps until 1966, holding positions as Special Assistant to the Director and then General Counsel. In 1972, Mr. Josephson was a director of Sargent Shriver's campaign for Vice President on the McGovern/Shriver ticket. He is a senior advisor to the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago.

Honors & Awards

In 1965, he received the William A. Jump Award for Exemplary Achievement in Public Administration.  He has also been honored by MALDEF, The University of Chicago and the New York State Archives.

Practices & Industries


Columbia Law School, JD – 1955
  • Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
University of Chicago, AB – 1952
  • Francis S. Kosmerl Scholar
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