Illuminating, extraordinarily candid history of the mega-law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom—one of a handful of firms that, within the last 20 years, have fundamentally changed the American law business. Relying heavily on interviews with past and present Skadden associates and partners, Caplan (An Open Adoption, 1990, etc.) presents an all-around picture of this unique firm: its post-WW II genesis on ``April Fools' Day in 1948'' by three lawyers who hadn't achieved partnership at established firms; its dominance in the 70's and 80's of the heady world of corporate takeovers; its frenetic and workaholic character; its rapid accumulation of capital from its takeover business; and its growth into a high- quality, full-service firm. Joseph Flom, Skadden's first associate (and the only surviving name-partner) emerges here as the architect of the mergers and acquisitions business that made Skadden the force it is today; and in telling how he and other aggressive partners developed a distinctive niche in corporate law, Caplan also tells the tale of how American law practice in general has grown and altered. As he points out, many other large law firms have mirrored Skadden's growth over the decades: its attempts, with little early success, to become a profitable international firm with offices in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Paris, and London; its formal pro bono program, offering fellowships to lawyers to practice in the area of ``public interest'' law; its acquisition of smaller firms in order to expand practice areas; its arbitrary decisions to make new partners; and its painful downsizing in the early 1990's, as the flood tide of corporate takeovers ebbed and then dried up. A convincing portrait in microcosm of the transformation of a once-sleepy profession into a giant, though troubled, global industry.
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