for about 16 years, until he died. There were
occasions when he [would want to dine]
outside of the city and he wanted to be
incognito. And he’d make the reservation
under the name “Sorrell Trope.” So when
he showed up, it was “Sorrell Trope” but it
was really Cary Grant.
FIELDS: [In the 1970s] the Beatles came to
me because they wanted to stop a show
that was performing all around the world
called Beatlemania. It was one of the early
applications of the right of publicity, and
we were able to stop the show and get a
very sizable award of damages. The point
man was George Harrison. I spent a lot
of time with George. I met the others just
briefly; I’m not sure that I met Ringo. John
was killed in the middle of the case.
STAN JACOBS / Jacobs & Jacobs; Personal
Injury; University of Southern California
Law School 1959: In 1984, I was trying a
quadriplegic case involving a rollover of an
SUV outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
In the back of the SUV was a 31-year-
old schoolteacher. It was a knock-down
drag-out fight. I wanted to make the
point to a jury that even a courtroom isn’t
equipped [to accommodate a person
with disabilities]. Every day’s a handicap.
I noticed when she came by [in her
wheelchair] that the counsel tables were
too close to the witness box and she had
maybe two to three inches of clearance. I
didn’t tell anybody, but I went behind the
counsel table and gave it a little shove,
about half a foot toward the jury box. I
opened the gate, she came through and
... bam! She hit the counsel table. The
defense lawyer—he knew I set that up. I
looked over where the judge couldn’t see—
and the jury couldn’t see because my back
was to them—and gave him the finger.
FIELDS: I had a client, [music mogul] David
Geffen, who referred Michael Jackson to
me, and that was the start of a very exciting
adventure. The first project was negotiating
a new record deal for him. Working on his
 worldwide tour, I went with him to
Holland, Russia, Romania. I liked Michael
very much and I believed that he was totally
innocent of what he was charged with.
[In 1994, Jackson settled with a family over
child-molestation accusations for a reported
$20 million.] It was intense pressure, but
over a number of years of trying cases, one
gets used to intense pressure. I really didn’t
want to see him settle, at least on those
terms. But that’s all behind us now. His
representatives did what they thought was
the right thing.
The changes to the law were many and
deep. It became as much business as
profession. The onscreen representative
switched from Atticus Finch to My Cousin
Vinny. And then there were the lawyer jokes.
MARX: The jokes started in the ’80s. For
a while, the conventional wisdom among
lawyers was that you didn’t dignify them—
certainly by not telling one, but not even
listening to one without obvious distaste.
We soon got over that.
TROPE: The law is far more complex
now. The monetary issues are basically
the same but there are a lot more zeroes
after the numbers.
MARX: The most obvious is rampant
advertising. A less objectionable change is
that clients don’t expect you to wear a suit.
RUTTER: The obvious [change in divorce
law] has been going from fault to no-fault.
Before that, it was almost always women
who were filing, saying, “He made me
nervous and upset” and “I deserve more
than half of the community property.”
It was not a fair and honest system. It
takes two to get married; it takes two to
get divorced. There is seldom one who’s
virtuous and one who is the villain.
JACOBS: You got the advertising. You
got these guys that are inundating the
airwaves. And what really opened it up
was the Internet.
TROPE: [Sometimes] I go to the courthouse
and it seems like there are 500 reporters
and camera people outside throwing
questions at me when I walk by them. On
occasion, this forces me to go through the
basement entrance on the first floor.
FIELDS: The guys who were founders of
the [movie] industry tended to be highly
intelligent people, but they were rough,
tough guys: Harry Cohn at Columbia, Louis
B. Mayer at MGM, Sam Goldwyn. I don’t
think the Warner brothers were pushovers,
by any means. Today, you have well-educated people, more rounded, just as
tough, but in a much more refined way. It’s
a lot easier to deal with people.
RUTTER: We’ve all heard these stories
about too many lawyers, and law-school
admissions dropping off. But being a
lawyer is an intellectual pursuit, and one
where you have a lot of independence.
It’s a little bit like politicians. People
dislike politicians but they like their own
PIRCHER: Lawyers have never been
popular as individuals. People like to
read about them because they think the
business is exciting. But the problem
with the law is there are frequently
winners or losers. The clients that win
think, “I should have won all along, so
I don’t know why I had to spend all this
money to prove it!” and the ones that
lose say, “The lawyer’s incompetent!” It
makes everybody unhappy.
JACOBS: It’s the only thing I’ve ever done
extremely well. I had to push myself like
crazy when I was a kid just to be a grunt in
high school playing football. And I never
heard the applause. As a trial lawyer, I’ve
always heard the applause.