20 PRIOR RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE A SIMILAR OUTCOME AT TORNEYS SELECTED TO SUPER LA WYERS WERE CHOSEN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROCESS ON PAGE 38.
an award that was being given by The Lab School
in Washington, which is a school for children with
dyslexia. He gave me that award, and I think it was
an emotional event for the audience as well as for
the two of us. We’ve just grown closer together.
Olson: We’ve never had a disagreement that
got personal. We mostly talk about other things
than whether we would vote for a certain piece of
legislation or different ways to solve the budget.
That’s not much fun. As far as the practice of law is
concerned, even when we’re on opposite sides I have
enormous admiration for David’s legal skills. I find
myself almost hypnotized when I’m watching David
in court, because he’s so good, so persuasive, that I
have to hold myself back from agreeing with him.
Boies: Let yourself go.
Olson: You asked earlier about anything that
surprised us about working together. One of
the things that I thought was remarkable is that
David’s team and my team worked together
seamlessly. There were never any egos. There was
never any putting one side in front of the other.
There was never anybody saying, “I want to do
this, you can’t do it.” Everybody was selflessly
involved in putting this together.
Q: How many people are we talking about?
Boies: Probably 30 people from Gibson, Dunn &
Crutcher. We had about 20 people.
Olson: Not to mention the paralegals and the
messengers and the people that were assembling
Boies: Lawyers are not known as people without
egos. But there wasn’t any ego apparent in the
entire case. Everybody worked together.
Q: How would you describe your different law
Boies: Gibson Dunn has clearly been around a lot
longer than Boies, Schiller & Flexner, and it’s clearly
a lot larger. I’ve often, within our firm, talked about
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as the kind of firm that
demonstrates that you can get very large and still
be competitive, collegial, [with a] high standard of
excellence. It doesn’t have to get diluted. I think
one of the challenges, frankly, for Boies, Schiller
& Flexner is whether we will have the discipline to
maintain the quality, the collegiality, the dedication,
that we have now as we grow.
Q: Where does that discipline come from? Is it
Boies: I think it has to come from leadership.
I think it has to come from Boies, Schiller &
Flexner, or some of the younger partners that are
coming up. Or at Gibson Dunn, whether it’s Ted,
or Randy Mastro or Bob Cooper. Bob is another
lawyer I’ve been on the side of and against. Great
integrity. Great trial skills.
Olson: He’s great on the golf course, too.
Q: Where do you see your firms in five years?
Boies: I think for five years, all we have to
do is continue to do what we’re doing. The
much harder task is what happens 20 years
from now, or 30 years from now, when the
entire leadership of the firm will have turned
over. A firm that continues to attract the very
best young people is a firm that’s going to
succeed. Once you stop doing that, you begin
to deteriorate, and that deterioration can
accelerate as you go downhill.
Q: What advice would you have for a young
man or woman looking to go to law school in
Boies: Even before they decide to go, I’d say,
“Why are you going?” If you’re going to get a
really good education that will teach you to think
and solve problems, regardless of whether you
practice law or not, that’s a good reason to go. If
you’re interested in the justice system, that’s an
even better reason to go. If you’re just trying to
mark time, that’s a poor reason to go.
Olson: Don’t go to law school because you
want to make lots of money. There are other
ways to make lots of money. If you really
get a bang out of practicing law and solving
problems and trying to persuade and doing
something very creative, and if you like the
history and you like the law and you like the
structure of our legal system, then you’re going
to be spending your life doing things that you
like. That’s the only reason to do it.
Q: Is that what you’re looking for when recent law
school graduates try to get jobs at your firms?
Olson: Absolutely. You want people that really
love to work, and want to work hard, and have
manifested, through their achievement in college
and law school, that they have the ability to think
these problems through. It’s the enthusiasm. You
can see it in their eyes.
Q: What do you think the future of law is with
regard to the billable hour?
Olson: I like to do a fixed fee for whatever I can: a
cert petition, an argument in the Supreme Court,
handling an appeal. Then a client knows if it’s
expensive, it’s expensive. Many, many clients, I’m
finding, prefer it.
Boies: I think the billable hour is a problem. I think
it creates a conflict of interest between the lawyer
and the client. Lawyers actually do an extraordinary
job of trying to avoid that conflict, [but] I think it’s
always disadvantageous to have the economic
incentives skewed. The client wants the case over
as fast as possible. For the lawyer on an hourly rate,
you want the case to continue from an economic
standpoint. I think the less business a firm may
have, the more that’s true. If I could give a client any
advice, it would be pick a very busy law firm. Pick a
law firm that has to fit you in, not a law firm that is
out spending lots of marketing dollars to get you to
hire them. Because I think that the busy law firm is
a good law firm, but also it’s a law firm that is going
to try to be efficient, because it needs to be efficient
in order to service all of its clients. I would rather
that we always were on a fixed fee or a contingency
fee as opposed to an hourly rate. For the last three
years, we have had more than 50 percent of our
revenues come from fees other than hourly fees.
That was our goal when we started. It took us
almost 15 years to get there.
Q: Mr. Boies, last year in The New York Times
you said you felt that a small percentage of the
population was over-lawyered while most of us
are under-lawyered. Could you expand on that?
Boies: I think that lawyers have, to a very large
extent, priced themselves out of the market—not
just for poor people but for middle class and
upper middle class people. Sometimes even for
medium-sized corporations, who really cannot
afford to thoroughly litigate matters.
There are a combination of things that need to
be done. First, courts need to control litigation in
terms of limiting the number of depositions, the
amount of discovery, the length of trials: things
that explode the cost of litigation.
Q: How would you do that?
Boies: The most effective way is [having] a judge
who exercises reason and discretion on a case-by-case basis. I think in the long run it will free
up dockets, it will reduce costs, it will reduce the
I also think that we need to have ways of
providing legal services to people who cannot
afford them. It’s partly a function of what law
firms should do: taking on cases and clients,
and giving them the same representation as
you would one of your commercial clients. [But]
it’s also a function of what government can and
should do: better funding from government