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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > WESTSIDER JOHN LINDSAY
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International lawyer


It was said of John Kennedy that he was too young and too active a man to retire immediately after the presidency. Had he lived to serve two full terms, he would have been 51 upon leaving office. How he might have spent the remainder of his career is difficult to guess, but it's likely that he would have ended up doing work very similar to what John Lindsay does today.

A comparison between the two men is hard to escape. Both were war heroes. Both rose to power aided by their personal magnetism — Kennedy to the nation's highest office at 43, Lindsay to the nation's second toughest job at 44. Both gave eloquent speeches, aimed for high ideals, and made controversial decisions that brought plenty of criticism from within their own ranks.

Lindsay, now an international lawyer, has changed little in appearance since he stepped down in 1974 after eight years in City Hall. The brown hair has turned mostly grey, and the lines in the face are slightly more pronounced, but when he's behind the desk of his Rockefeller Plaza office, his lean, immaculately dressed, 6-foot-3-inch frame resting comfortably in a huge leather swivel chair, he still looks like a man who is very much in charge.

He is a partner in the corporate law firm of Webster and Sheffield, which he first joined in 1948. "This is a firm of about 75 lawyers," he says in a soft, lyrical voice. "We're general practice. … I'm back into corporate law, and there's a fair amount of international work which takes me abroad quite a bit — largely representing American businesses overseas. A lot of my work is done in French. I'm handling a complicated matter involving imports to this country, and a complex arrangement involving offshore oil exploration and drilling. Real estate transactions. The purchase of oil. A matter in Australia. Municipal counseling for a city in Colorado … "

The international situation is beneficial to New York these days, says Lindsay, because "parts of the Western free world have a bad case of the jitters. Europeans particularly, and also many people in the Middle East, feel that this is a more stable place to invest their capital."

Leaning back, with his feet propped up on another chair, he elaborates on foreign affairs: "I think Carter's plane deal in the Middle East escalated tensions rather than reduced them. It's not a foreign policy to sell arms in the Middle East. I think Americans have an obligation to spell out what our foreign policy is."

Except for a few public speaking engagements, Lindsay has devoted nearly all his att............
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