DiSalvo Gandhi biography

DiSalvo: Gandhi, Attorney at Law

Gandhi’s LIfe as a Lawyer Revealed – WV Public Broadcasting

Before he was a leader of India’s independence movement and admired worldwide for his non-violent political resistance, Mahatma Gandhi was a lawyer.

Remarkably, no one had conducted in-depth research of Gandhi’s early life in the law—and how it helped shape his inspiring principles—until WVU Law professor Charles “Chuck” DiSalvo.

Professor DiSalvo is the author of the first definitive biography that explores Gandhi the lawyer: M.K.Gandhi, Attorney at Law: The Man Before the Mahatma (2013, University of California Press). In the book, Prof. DiSalvo illustrates how Gandhi’s experiences as a lawyer in South Africa drove him to take a stand against injustice.

Professor DiSalvo is the Woodrow A. Potesta Professor of Law. An award-winning professor, he teaches one of the few law school courses in the country on civil disobedience—inspired by Gandhi and others. He is also an expert on bioethics and the law, civil procedure, and trial advocacy.

Since joining the faculty in 1979, Professor DiSalvo’s passion for public interest law has inspired thousands of students to use the law for the benefit of society. He is co-founder of the West Virginia Fund for Law in Public Interest that raises money to support summer fellowships and other opportunities for WVU law students who want to work in public service.

Professor DiSalvo began his legal career at the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund. He earned his J.D. from the University of Southern California, his master’s from Claremont Graduate School, and his bachelor’s degree from St. John Fisher College.


Read the review of Professor DiSalvo’s book in the Asian Review of Books

When I learned that Gandhi had been a lawyer for twenty years, I was surprised to learn, too, that no one had written a biography of his life as a lawyer.
This was as stunning as it was inexplicable. Civil disobedience is the conscientious breaking of the law. Gandhi was a civil disobedient – and became one while he was a practicing member of the legal profession. Was there no relationship between Gandhi’s practice of law and his embrace of civil disobedience? Was there no relationship between Gandhi’s practice of law and the person he became over those years?
I set about writing the story of Gandhi’s life as a lawyer to answer those questions and to explain how Gandhi’s experience as a lawyer set him on a path that would lead to his being one of the preeminent figures of the 20th century – with a dramatic impact on the 21st.
                    —Chuck DiSalvo

Professor DiSalvo's Faculty Page



Pre-order this book at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. Release date is Nov. 15, 2013.