Lawyer For The Dead, Kesey, Cassady… Brian Rohan Dies

Now that’s a list of clients !

Brian Rohan, who was known as San Francisco’s “dope lawyer” for 1960s counterculture clients like the Grateful Dead and Ken Kesey, has died, according to a newspaper report Sunday. He was 84.

Brian Rohan in 2019

Rohan’s daughter, Kathleen Jolson, told the San Francisco Chronicle that her father died Tuesday at his home in the Bay Area city of Larkspur after a six-year battle with cancer.

Rohan With The Dead

He met his first high-profile client in 1965 in Ken Kesey, famous for his novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” As part of Kesey’s defense team on charges of marijuana possession — a team headed up by another famous San Francisco lawyer, Patrick Hallinan — Rohan became San Francisco’s go-to man for “dope” charges.

Rohan Ensures Kesey Doesn’t Say Something Incriminating After Famous Arrest Later Documented By Tom Wolfe In The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test ( CLICK ON IMAGE TO WATCH )

Rohan co-founded the Haight Ashbury Legal Organization and the group recruited clients in part by setting up a table outside the Grateful Dead house at 710 Ashbury Street.


Thanks to his association with the Grateful Dead, Rohan also became a music lawyer. In 1966, he helped the band negotiate its first contract with Warner Bros. He also represented Janis Joplin, Santana and Jefferson Airplane.

His non-musician clients included Beat writer Neal Cassady and members of the Merry Pranksters, the communal travelers chronicled in Tom Wolfe’s 1968 book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”


Neal Cassady

“Brian Rohan, though he is probably one of the most successful of the dope lawyers, hasn’t worn a suit in a year, his usual attire being faded corduroys and a T shirt,” the San Francisco Examiner wrote in a 1970 story. “He wears dark glasses at all times. ‘I can’t look people in the eye when I ask for all that money — I get it, and it’s insane.’”

Rohan spent his entire life on the West Coast, growing up in Washington before attending the University of Oregon and then University of California Hastings College of Law.

Attorney Brian Rohan, left, confers with members of the Grateful Dead on June 23, 1968 at their sentencing in San Francisco Superior Court for a possession of marijuana arrest. To Rohan’s right are Dead members Bob Matthews, Ron McKernan, manager Rock Scully and Bob Weir. Rohan died March 20, 2021.

Rohan is survived by Jolson and sons Brian Rohan Jr., Chris Ray Rohan and Michael Lonan.

Jolson told the Chronicle he died in his sleep.




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