Browsing Tag

lawyers

The Comeback

CBS Sunday Morning ran a story this weekend about Richard Nixon’s 1968 comeback. I thought it was a good piece that summarized what was at stake, both in Nixon’s life and in 1968. It was nice seeing all those video clips and interviews with people like Pat Buchanan and Dwight Chapin – people that were extraordinarily helpful to me when I was writing my book. It helped bring to life what had, otherwise, mainly existed to me in the form of papers, emails, and phone calls.

One thing that disappointed me about that story was that it didn’t mention his law firm career at all. After all, interviewees Buchanan and Chapin were both employed by Nixon Mudge, while campaign manager John Mitchell (mentioned near the end) had come to the firm via merger. Until that happened, Nixon and Mitchell had barely even known one another – indeed, Mitchell had a stronger relationship with Nixon’s longtime rival in the GOP, Nelson Rockefeller.

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It was 50 Years Ago Today.

On November 5, 1968, Richard Nixon completed his remarkable comeback from political oblivion and was elected President of the United States (okay, his victory wasn’t confirmed until early the following morning, but still…).

When I was writing my book, I deliberately aimed for 2018 as a release date since it would mark the 50th anniversary of Nixon’s victory. Indeed, the 50th anniversary had been the main driving point behind the entire project. This book had started out as a proposed Q&A with former Nixon aide and Mudge Rose managing partner Tom Evans to mark the 50th anniversary of his joining the firm in 1963.

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A Fantastic Review from CHOICE

After losing the California governor’s race in 1962, Nixon announced the end of his political career, and he accepted a partnership in a prestigious New York City law firm. He became a valuable rainmaker for the firm, and he used his position to reconstitute his political base with wealthy contributors, a deep and talented campaign staff, and enhanced international experience. This culminated in his victory in the 1968 presidential campaign. The assistant managing editor of the American Bar Association’s trade journal, Li provides an excellent, straightforward narrative of how this transpired. The author places these transformational years within a quick survey of Nixon’s prior political career and a brief overview of his two administrations. The consistency of Nixon’s talents and flaws is evident in each phase of his career. The final chapter treats former colleagues and legal issues of the firm during Nixon’s presidency. The epilogue touches on recent presidential players’ engagements with prestigious law firms. Although this focused and manageable account relies more on interviews and printed sources than on extensive archival research, it deserves consideration in competition with John Farrell’s or Evan Thomas’s recent, massive Nixon biographies.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. — Choice Reviews

Is “The Devil’s Advocate” a Great Legal Film?

At the ABA Journal, our most popular web post of all time is our “Top 25 Greatest Legal Movies” feature from 2008. I haven’t seen the stats, but apparently, it’s number one by a country mile. Kind of like how The Matrix is, far and away, the best movie in its trilogy or how Alec Baldwin is, without question, the most talented actor in his family.

So, to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of our most popular feature of all time, the lead feature of this month’s issue is an updated look at the list of greatest legal movies. Some movies from the last decade to be included are Spotlight, The Post and Marshall, while movies like Legally Blonde, Primal Fear and Michael Clayton made the cut this time after missing out on the original list. Also, some movies from the original list dropped out, including Philadelphia, Presumed Innocent, Chicago, In the Name of the Father, and the Al Pacino tour-de-force And Justice for All.

All of this got me thinking about a different Pacino legal drama. The Devil’s Advocate (1997) may not be remembered as his greatest film (if we’re being honest, it’s probably not even in the top half of his filmography), but it’s a fun, creative take on lawyers, law firms and the legal profession.

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Award Season

 

 

I won a Gold and Silver award at the recent ASBPE Upper Midwest Regional AZBEES Awards. Thanks to my colleagues at ABA Journal for making me look so good! 

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Rudy (BOOK EXCERPT)

[T]here have been plenty of politicians who, at one time, called the venerated halls of Mudge “home.” In addition to [Richard] Nixon, [John] Mitchell, [Pat] Buchanan, [former NJ Governor Jim] Florio, and [former HUD Secretary Carla] Hills, several other prominent national figures have spent time at Mudge, including ex New York mayor John Lindsay, federal judge and DOJ official Harold Russell (“Ace”) Tyler Jr., former New York State Supreme Court justice William Lawless, former Dick Cheney aide I. Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, and Manhattan federal district judge Jed Rakoff. More recently, in 2016, Democrat Tim Canova, a former Mudge Rose associate, unsuccessfully ran for US House of Representatives in Florida. Perhaps Mudge’s most prominent politico after Nixon, however, was a New Yorker who spent almost no time at the firm.

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Anna Chennault (1925-2018) (BOOK EXCERPT)

Anna Chennault passed away on March 30, 2018 at the age of 94. The Chinese-born journalist and political power broker played a major role in Richard Nixon’s 1968 Presidential campaign. Read an excerpt about her and Nixon from my upcoming book:

On October 31, [President Lyndon] Johnson stunned the country when he announced a bombing halt, as well as upcoming peace talks in Paris between the United States and both North and South Vietnam. The maneuver wasn’t completely out of the blue—Johnson had laid down his terms for a bombing halt in June. The breakthrough had come in early October when the North Vietnamese dropped its objection to South Vietnam’s participation in the proposed peace talks. Johnson now had his chance to end the war on his own terms and salvage his place in history in one fell swoop. There were still some significant hurdles to be cleared before there was any chance of an actual peace treaty, but the news buoyed his spirits considerably.

The news also lifted [Vice President and 1968 Democratic nominee for President] Humphrey’s fortunes. After Johnson’s announcement, Nixon’s lead vanished almost immediately and Humphrey was now in a dead heat with the GOP nominee. Nixon was irate and convinced that Johnson was trying to steal the election at the last minute in favor of his vice president. Nixon still had the bitter taste of 1962 in his mouth when a race he thought he was winning turned against him in the closing stages as a result of a piece of Democratic foreign policy that he had little respect for. Now he had an unwelcome sense of déjà vu. Luckily for him, however, he had prepared for something like this, and this time, he had an ace in the hole.

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Nixon Mudge (BOOK EXCERPT)

Four months after his “last press conference,” Richard Nixon seemed to be making good on his vow to leave politics. A few days before St. Patrick’s Day in 1963, he had a job interview with several partners from the Wall Street law firm Mudge, Stern, Baldwin & Todd. The last time he had interviewed with a white-shoe law firm in New York, he had been a law student and, like many aspiring lawyers before and after him, he had squeezed into an interview suit he hardly ever wore and sat, nervously, in the waiting room of the managing partner’s office hoping to distinguish himself from the hundreds of competitors equally desperate for the job.

This was a different type of interview.

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