Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Thursday, February 24, 2011

You look around at the way the world works and you wonder sometimes, how did it get like this? One of the ways is that, for good or for ill, lawyers made it like this. One of the cats that invented the modern corporate marketplace has just died: Joe Flom, the last name in Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Flom understood M&A practice before anybody else did. He transformed the way business does business, and along the way he transformed the way law gets practiced. I'm no fan of the Skadden model, but there is no disputing that they get their results by working hard to achieve them-- and it is clear that Flom was the model for that ethic.

It's interesting to consider a little law firm genealogy: the founders of Skadden, Arps, who hired Flom as their first associate, had been passed over for partnership at Root, Ballantine, Harlan, Bushby & Palmer-- that's the Harlan that became the second Justice Harlan, and the Ballantine that was Thomas Dewey's partner when the firm evolved into Dewey, Ballantine (which is Dewey & LeBoeuf these days). The Root was Elihu Root, the son of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, United States Secretary of War (under McKinley and TR), and Senator from New York. In between government gigs the old man was also a partner. Ballantine was the first solicitor of what later was named the Internal Revenue Service.

| Comments:
Okay, that's three, almost in a row. Has this place turned into an obit column?

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