The Lawyer Interview 2003: The names of the game

Joe Flom, Skadden, meets Dearbail Jordan Joe Flom looks almost offended when I ask him if he is 80. “I’ll be 80 in the summer,” the septuagenarian quickly corrects me in his soft Brooklyn accent. While insulting the person you are interviewing is probably not the best way to kick-start a conversation, the legendary Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & – of course – Flom partner’s tongue is firmly in his cheek as he feigns outrage at my opening gambit.
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Michael Smyth, Clifford Chance This is the man who once reduced a journalist to tears over a typographical error. He played the litigator so well, she sobbed all the way up Aldersgate Street.
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James Sprayregen, Kirkland & Ellis
“Bankruptcy is time-consuming, it’s emotional, it’s very hard work, it’s emergency-based, it’s around the clock and you get what you pay for.”
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Sue Ashtiany, Nabbaro Nathanson
“I can’t really think how I did any schoolwork at all [at stage school]. It would have been Ofsted-ed out of existence nowadays.”
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John Young, Lovells
“My immediate reaction was, ‘Well, I’ve won after all’, but looking back I felt I had at least even chances. I wouldn’t have stood if I hadn’t thought I was in with a very good chance.”
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Jeffrey Bailey, Paul Hastings
“I always find it perplexing that the Anglo-Saxon approach is not to value age and experience. It’s bizarre really.”
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Rodrigo Uría, Uría & Menéndez
“It’s like an orchestra full of Yehudi Menuhins. What I mean is I manage a group of prima donnas. All the lawyers are prima donnas.”
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Paul Maher, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw
“[Upping assistants’ chargeable hours] has always been part of the revolution in our business. Not everybody likes the ides – but tough.”
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Nick Holt, KLegal
“The collapse of Andersen and the downfall of Enron isn’t, I don’t think, relevant to whether lawyers can practise with other professional. It’s a sideshow.”
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Robert Rhodes QC, 35 Essex Street
“You can tell the time of death of the old boys at the Garrick Club from the date of the newspapers on their heads.”
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Robert Derry-Evans, CMS
“Prospective clients perceive us as a single firm. We need to build on that perception and make it a reality.”
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Margaret Bloom, OFT (now at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer)
“I would have been even more pleased to have been able to get out a number of cartel cases before I retired – they’ve taken longer than I would have wished.”
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Nigel Tait, Peter Carter-Ruck & Partners
“I have to charge a success fee to cover the risk of the cases I lose. Otherwise I couldn’t do CFA’s and there’d be no access to justice.”
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Jonathan Goldstein, Olswang
“You’re only as good as your last deal. You don’t look back and say, ‘Wasn’t that good?’, because quite frankly, anything you did last week is irrelevant.”
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