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An uneven follow-up to Hoffman's previous book on New York law firms, Lions in the Street (1973). Two early chapters are devoted to quickie summaries of more than three dozen firms--sometimes short on facts and long on gossip and unsupported conclusions. Is Sullivan & Cromwell really the ""ideal"" to which other law firms aspire? Is it fair to dismiss Carter, Ledyard as ""dying""? (Here, and elsewhere, Hoffman seems to have been reading American Lawyer articles.) Wall Street people may also question some of Hoffman's choices of emphasis here--does Mudge, Rose (the former firm of John Mitchell and, briefly, Richard Nixon) rate three times the space given to Davis, Polk? Scandal of any sort gets full coverage: Rosenman, Colin partner lack Bronston's involvement in the New York City bus-shelter deal; the criminal conviction of a Donovan, Leisure partner for concealment of evidence in the Berkey/Kodak antitrust litigation; Joel Dolkart's misappropriation of some $2.5 million in fees paid by Gulf & Western to Simpson, Thacher. On the plus side, Hoffman offers an absorbing account of several major firms' involvement in the 1975 financial bailout of New York City (including the news that the city's formal bankruptcy papers had actually been drafted and signed, just in case), and the equally fascinating story of how several bank lawyers put together the deal that sprung the US hostages from Iran in exchange for the unfreezing of Iranian assets. Hoffman also chronicles the rise of the city's two preeminent tender-offer firms--Skadden, Arps and Wachtell, Lipton--in a chapter that focuses on their pitched battle in American Express' unsuccessful takeover of McGraw-Hill. On balance, a very mixed bag, for a very limited readership.

Pub Date: June 25th, 1982
Publisher: Doubleday