Longtime investigative reporter Goulden probes big-time legal practice today.
Law is frequently a bellicose business whose practitioners are only too happy to enable clients to sue, according to Goulden (The Superlawyers, 1972, etc.), who displays a lot of disdain and a smidgen of grudging admiration for some brilliant members of the bar. He profiles litigator David Boies, who for a while bested Microsoft, and leading Washington lobbyists Tommy Boggs and Jim Patton, who practice what they call “public policy” law (read: potent lobbying). Goulden gives mixed reviews to class-action lawyers, taking them to task for breast-implant litigation (silicone was not proven guilty, he argues), but admitting they were right to go after the Fen-Phen diet-drug manufacturers. Lawyers attack each other too, the author reminds us, as evidenced by the split-up of vaunted practitioners Lerach and Weiss, or the internecine treachery that divided venerable white-shoe firm Cadwallader, Wickersham & Taft. Stories of regulators’ malfeasance, attorneys’ chicanery, paper-chasing, lawyer gossip, among others, are all crammed under the title’s general rubric. Oddly, Goulden omits discussion of big-tobacco litigation, though he does point a finger at enough ethical problems to delight most lawyer stalkers. In conclusion, the author considers three or four fruitless solutions, only to suggest that perhaps folks should take more responsibility for themselves, “a change in national attitudes that I doubt will occur in my lifetime.”
A casebook of the missteps and misdeeds of superlawyers.