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Trying Cases: A Life in the Law

Haliburton Fales
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 220
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  • Book Info
    Trying Cases
    Book Description:

    Haliburton Fales 2d, former President of the New York State Bar Association and senior partner in the law firm White and Case, has been centrally, until recently, involved during his professional life of the past half century in the on-going changes that have swept through American Law. These changes, no less profound than parallel and similar changes in American society at large, are described in this engaging account of the joys of trying cases.Fales takes the reader behind closed doors at the firm, into judges' chambers, and to government and industry-sponsored roundtables of the 1980's and 90's. From this, a larger story emerges, namely that of the development of corporate law as seen by an American trial lawyer, an evolution from an enterprise primarily local into one that is immensely powerful, broadly diversified, and increasingly global.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2881-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 In the Zone
    (pp. 1-5)

    Judge Inzer Wyatt dominated his impressive large-windowed and carvedpaneled courtroom in Manhattan with the quiet, courteous manner of a southerner. His brilliance, too, drew respect from many who came before him in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. On this particular occasion, Wyatt handled the jury trial between Caldwell Clements, Inc., a small business magazine publisher for the electrical industry, and McGraw-Hill, a well-known publisher of business-related publications includingBusiness Week.

    Smiling down at the panel from which jurors would be selected, Wyatt spent some time on the first day of trial explaining the lawsuit:...

  5. 2 Getting Under Way at White & Case
    (pp. 6-34)

    Herbert F. July, my earliest mentor and the manager of the White & Case Legal Research Department, was cut from a cloth they no longer weave. A bachelor, he lived with his father, a retired court reporter, in a brownstone house on Twentieth Street. Herb’s mother had been a teacher in the New York public school system. The family had moved from rural Pennsylvania to New York City to get the advantage of the education provided in its public schools. Herb had no religious ties, but I never knew a kinder, more upright, or more selfless man. He worked only to...

  6. 3 Early Family and Professional Growth
    (pp. 35-50)

    Kak tells what I am sure is an apocryphal story: one Saturday morning I slept in so late that I was still in bed when my tactful mother came to call (never before ten in the morning). Hearing her voice below, Kak says, I leaped up, pulled on pants and a shirt, escaped from the side door of our bedroom into the baby’s room next door and called out, “Coming, mother. I’m just changing the baby.”

    Kak further insists that I couldn’t even fold a diaper right, let alone pin it on without gouging strips of skin and causing a...

  7. 4 Antitrust and Bankruptcy Cases
    (pp. 51-76)

    All the way downtown on the subway, I was like an old horse in the pound, going round and round in my head with possibilities: why did the Colonel summon me down to his office from Major Benjamin H. Namm’s office? Namm and I had been preparing for trial when the Colonel’s call came in. “Can you come immediately?” he requested. Well, it was near lunch on a Wednesday, the normal day for firm meetings, so there was a chance this might be news of partnership. I was anxious and excited. I had been at White & Case from the first...

  8. 5 The Steel Tax Case
    (pp. 77-99)

    Down into the Robena coal mine in Greene County, Pennsylvania, our team descended. The mine, opened during the World War II, was pale gray where we expected black; the air was pungent and clotted. A woofer blew lime dust into the air at regular intervals, providing the light walls their color. When it stuck to the walls, the lime would seal them from shedding coal dust and, to some extent, retard the escape of dangerous gases. We saw the roof bolts being installed, long rods with a flat plate at the bottom screwed into the rock above the coal seam...

  9. 6 The McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Case
    (pp. 100-122)

    Growing up with a lawyer father gave me an appreciation of the need for Roosevelt’s invention of the SEC. When I was still in my teens, Richard Whitney’s embezzlement made front-page news. He was my father’s classmate and neighbor, so the event caused shocked discussion and debate at our family table. As president of the New York Stock Exchange, the symbol of the beleaguered business culture, Whitney had a higher duty than most. At the very time of his fall, Whitney was testifying against the legislation that eventually became the Investment Advisors Act of 1940, as other financial leaders had...

  10. 7 A Product Liability Case
    (pp. 123-143)

    By the 1970s my friends at the trial bar knew I had handled a number of cases for U.S. Steel Corporation. Sometime in 1974 Hazard Gillespie of Davis Polk called me to ask if the corporation would extend the statute of limitations in a possible suit by Allis Chalmers for product liability. I told him we had not been retained with respect to any such suit and that he should ask Gus Heatwole, Steel’s general counsel. Although I told Hazard I would not act as his messenger, I did inform Gus about the call. He responded, “If they want to...

  11. 8 Stockholder Suits
    (pp. 144-160)

    A front-page case came along. I inherited from Orison the representation of the outside directors of Exxon. They were accused of failing in their duty of care as directors when the extent of payments to Italian politicians by the Exxon subsidiary in Italy came to light on front pages of papers from Athens to Tokyo. Exxon’s bylaws permitted any committee of three directors to be delegated full power by the board to act for the board in a discreet matter. A litigation committee with independent counsel advised that it was not in Exxon’s best interest to pursue its outside directors...

  12. 9 New Times, New Challenges for White & Case
    (pp. 161-179)

    We Litigation Department lawyers looked upon ourselves as members of a service department, both to the firm and to our clients, although Tom Kiernan thought I was too flip when I said out loud that the purpose of the department was to serve clients as well as we could and have fun in the process.

    Tom thought we also had an obligation to make money for the firm. Throughout the fifties there was a 92 percent income tax, and until the seventies the top bracket for all income earned or unearned was 77 percent. Because we were partners and considered...

  13. 10 Service and Professional Responsibility
    (pp. 180-194)

    Holmes said in his grandiloquent way that a man should share the passion and action of his time at the peril of being judged not to have lived. Most of us don’t make it onto that plane, but even trial lawyers get the chance to be involved in public issues.

    My most important experience in the public area came through Roger Blough. In 1969 Roger Blough passed his sixty-fifth birthday. He returned to White & Case with the title of “partner” and took a place on the list among his contemporaries, but with a basically fixed compensation. Roger had a definite...

  14. Epilogue
    (pp. 195-202)

    After my sixty-fifth birthday, by the terms of the firm agreement, for which I had had some responsibility, my percentage of profits began to decline and I started to turn over all my matters to others. My practice soon dwindled to a few small family matters and a helping hand for a friend. This was what, in the vigor of my youth, I had thought appropriate. Certainly, I was too old to do important trial work any longer: my memory, reflexes, keen eyesight, and acute hearing were somewhat dimmed. Lawyers occasionally dropped by to seek my advice, but with insufficient...

    (pp. 203-212)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 213-213)