TURKS AND BRAHMINS: Upheaval at Milbank, Tweed: Wall Street's Gentlemen Take Off Their Gloves by Ellen Joan Pollock

TURKS AND BRAHMINS: Upheaval at Milbank, Tweed: Wall Street's Gentlemen Take Off Their Gloves

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A journalist's detailed, if essentially pointless, account of how a Waspy Wall Street law firm named Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy took stock of its insularity--and then charted a new course designed to enable the partnership to survive and thrive in the demanding business environment of the 1990's and beyond. Pollock (a former editor of Manhattan Lawyer who's now a Wall Street Journal correspondent) traces Milbank, Tweed's roots back to a predecessor firm founded in 1866. For over a century, she recounts, the partnership prospered, largely on the basis of its close ties with the Rockefeller family, Chase Manhattan Bank, and a handful of other establishment institutions or individuals. During the go-so 1980's, however, the collegial gentlemen of Milbank, Tweed found themselves overtaken by events and upstart rivals willing to work on hostile takeovers, recruit legal talent from competitors, pitch prospective clients, reward results rather than tenure, and otherwise behave as though the practice of law was as much a commercial enterprise as a calling. By middecade, with the firm floundering and its profit-per-partner ratio on the wane, a band of Young Turks hunched a well-bred lobbying campaign that led to an overdue changing of the guard. The author makes a fine job of sorting out the aims, ambitions, and actions of the culture-shock troops in the thick of this low-key conflict. Unfortunately, though, she never explains why anyone--save blood relations and friends of the embattled principals or students of the bar's presumptive elite--should have particular interest in this tempest in an antiquated teapot. Nor is it at all clear that Milbank, Tweed will realize worthwhile gains from the wrenching reforms instituted at no small cost. A professionally prepared brief with no evident venue.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1990
Publisher: American Lawyer/Simon & Schuster