THE SUPERLAWYERS by Joseph C. Goulden
Kirkus Star


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Superlawyer? Sounds like a comic strip character with a cape who leaps over juries in a single peroration. Not at all. Goulden's Superlawyer is very much a real person, wears a quite modest costume (conservative suit; white shirt), and usually practices his magic out of the public view. Superlawyer's name is Clark Clifford (a.k.a. Superclark) or Tommy Corcoran (a.k.a. the Cork) or Abe Fortas or George Smathers or Lloyd Cutler or John Mitchell (before he left Mudge Rose for Justice) or Richard Nixon (before he became Supertourist). In short, Superlawyer is one of a handful of powerful Washington/New York six-figure corporation attorneys who serves as an ""interface"" between big business interests and the federal government. Goulden, an old muckrake hand (he's previously shoveled in such bogs as ATT's monopoly, the Tonkin Gulf episode, and philanthropic foundations), looks into the behind-the-scenes activities of Superlawyer and finds numerous cases of conflict-of-interest, wire-pulling, Establishment collusion, and influence-peddling. ""Lawyering, or softening? Just what is it that Corcoran and his firm do to command their rank in Washington Law?. . . . The finding: whatever Corcoran does, it isn't lawyering."" Contending that the corporate lawyer's role used to be helping the client comply with the law but is now advising him ""how to make laws, and to make the most of them,"" Goulden shows how the Supedawyers dominate the federal regulatory agencies, are in cahoots with congressmen to gain legislative favors for their clients, and are constantly violating the public interest if not the public law. But Goulden concludes that Nader-led and inspired pro bono lawyers are beginning ""to balance the scales of justice in Washington"" -- ever since Nader's successful tussle with Lloyd Cutler over auto safety standards the blueclip attorneys have been somewhat on the defensive, or at least more cautious than usual. Although this lacks the theoretical depth and sociopolitical sweep of, say, Mills' The Power Elite, it will appeal to the same audience. The Superlawyers is a hell of a fascinating book.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1972
Publisher: Weybright & Talley--dist. by McKay