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The Anointed: New York’s White Shoe Law firms: How They Started, How They Grew. And How They Ran The Country Reviewed By Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
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Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal, QC
Sunday, February 14, 2021

 

Authors: Jeremiah Lambertand Geoffrey Stewart

Publisher: LP Lyons Press

ISBN: 978-1-4930-5633-0

The rise of the mostpowerful, prestigious white-shoe New York Wall Street law firms canbe traced to around the turn of the twentieth century. Who are thesefirms, how did they begin, how did they attain their prominence, whatinfluence did they have on society, the economy, politics,legislation? These are some topics that Jeremiah Lambert and GeoffreyStewart examine with their The Anointed: New York’s White ShoeLaw firms: How They Started, How They Grew. And How They Ran TheCountry

The book's introductionstates, “these were white-shoe bastions with the social standardsof an exclusive gentlemen’s club.” By today’s standards, thesefirms would have been considered small, yet, they were able todevelop institutional and specialized practices that served wealthybanking clients as Chase Manhattan, Morgan Guaranty, Marine Midland,Chemical Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Kuhn Loeb that allhad a prominent Wall Street law firm handling their affairs. Thecreativity and ingenuity of these lawyers revamped outdated laws.This resulted in lasting relationships with financiers and bankersthat helped them in restructuring and merging bankrupt railroads.This also helped in raising vast amounts of capital, which enabledthe formation of large corporations.

Many of their attorneysended up becoming cabinet secretaries, advisors to presidents, and prominent company executives, all exercising profound economic andpolitical power.

According to the authors,they resembled a legal cartel, even though they competed. They evenshared the same office buildings or nearby ones. They drew from thesame pool of associate attorneys, paying them roughly the samesalaries.

The organizationalstructure, which was often referred to as the Cravath System, wasbased on distinct characteristics. We have two types of attorneyspartners and associates). The firms emphasized teamwork rather thanindividual work. Admission to these firms was restricted to lawyersthat were white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (WASPS). Jews,African-Americans, women, and other ethnic and religious groups neednot apply. They recruited young men (seldom women) from Harvard,Yale, Columbia, and a handful of other law schools. Some, such asCravath, recruited new lawyers from only the “right social”background, who had graduated with high marks. Salaries were keptvery low, and clerks worked for one year without being paid and thenearned twenty-five dollars a month. Cravath, in 1920 stated that tobe successful at the New York Bar, “family influence, socialfriendships and wealth counted for little.”

Until recently, many ofthese firms concentrated their practices on corporate finance, bankloans, bond underwriting, mergers and acquisitions, and high stakelawsuits. They rejected bankruptcy law work and other specialtiesthat they considered undignified of Wall Street practitioners.Ironically, this enabled pockets, where many other firms, such asJewish, fill the gap.

Among the household nameswere Sullivan & Cromwell, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and Davis,Polk & Wardwell. Lambert and Stewart. It should be noted that inearlier incarnations, the authors were associates of the latter two.From their personal experiences, they narrate the story of how andwhy these firms and their peers, Sullivan and Cromwell, expanded fromtheir nineteenth-century entrepreneurial origins into icons ofinstitutional law practice.

The book divides itselfinto eighteen chapters and ends with notes, a bibliography, index,and authors' bios. The introduction provides readers with a broadsummary of the topics that will be covered, which include the ancientrivalries, J.P. Morgan Attorney General, railroads and railroadorganizations,t age of trusts and the progressive era, William NelsonCromwell and The Panama Canal, Sullivan & Cromwell, the CravathSystem, and Cravath the man, early Cravath alumni, Robert Swine andCravath’s reorganization practice, Davis, Polk & Wardell, JohnD. Davis’s law firm, Sullivan & Cromwell and the aftermath ofthe war, the advent of regulation, fighting the New Deal, the Dullesbrothers and postwar, tradition and reform of David Polk, and back tothe future.

The one hundred andeighty-two pages rigorously researched book is loaded with insightfulreferences that give readers a complete picture of the rise of theWhite-Shoe New York law firms and their immense influence on society.

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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