Friedman was born in a log cabin in the South, the South Bronx, He has always kept his New York accent. He attended P.S. 95, a public grammar school, and DeWitt Clinton High School, an all boys public high school. He started the University of Michigan at 17 but was unprepared socially. This has been his modus operandi throughout life. He then spent six months in active duty and five and half years in the reserve. After active service, he attended UCLA studying for a PhD in Clinical Psychology, but after two and a half years, he flunked out. He worked as a research psychologist in the defense industry for eighteen months, and then not knowing what to do, he applied to law school since there were no requirements other than having a B.A. On a lark, he applied to Harvard Law School, and much to his amazement, was accepted. At Harvard, he was one of the students there who made the top half of the class possible. After graduation, he settled in San Francisco where he obtained a job in a small firm in San Carlos, about 25 miles south of the city. While there he created, The Goldwater Calendar: Time for a Change??? about Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate in the 1964 presidential election. After six months at the San Carlos firm, he was fired, one of the happiest days of his life. He next worked as a lawyer in a mixed neighborhood in San Francisco which he enjoyed, but had the thought he wanted to be a university teacher. While teaching Business Law at the University of Connecticut, he wrote his unpublished book about auto insurance entitled Are You Being Taken For a Ride? A chapter of the book entitled 'Why Auto Insurance Rates Keep Going Up' was published in the September 1969 issue of The Atlantic.
After one year at Uconn, he came back to San Francisco to the hippie revolution. As a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Alameda County, he reached the pinnacle of his writing career having five articles published in The New Republic in the space of seven months. After eighteen months at Legal Aid, he was asked to leave because he wasn't filing any big issue cases. He had a few thousand in the bank and wondered if he could go a few months without a job. The legal aid job was the last job Friedman ever had with the exception of teaching Family Law at Warwick University in Coventry, England for eighteen months, which was more of a vacation than a job, but the vacation abruptly ended when he received an advance to write a book on English divorce laws, which Friedman knew very little, if anything about. This seems to be another theme in Friedman's life - Writing books he is totally unqualified to write. The only book he was ever been qualified to write is How to be Totally Unhappy in a Peaceful World: A Complete Manual with Rules, Exercises, a Midterm and a Final Exam.
Friedman is divorced, has one daughter, and one grandson. He presently lives in a small town in northern California with his cat Fritzie. He takes daily walks, does Pilates a few times a week, and swing dances.
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