Reynolds Holding is a Breakingviews columnist who writes from New York about the law in conjunction with Reuters Legal. Before joining Breakingviews, he was a national editorial producer for the Law & Justice Unit at ABC News, a senior writer for Time magazine and the executive editor of Legal Affairs, the first general interest magazine about the law. He spent more than a decade as an investigative reporter and columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle, where he was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for explanatory writing. Before becoming a journalist, he practiced corporate law at the New York firm of Debevoise & Plimpton. He graduated from Harvard College and Duke University School of Law.
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Guaranteed payouts and possible crimes helped kill U.S. law firm Dewey. Now forays into 9/11 suits and Chevron’s spat with Ecuador threaten Washington lobbying shop Patton Boggs. The recent recession caused pain for many firms. But bets on big cases can add to the risk.
Credit Suisse and others are eschewing costly outside counsel in matters ranging from big cases to CEO advice at U.S. Senate hearings. But as the ex-law chiefs at Pfizer and Wellpoint can attest, that puts pressure on in-house attorneys. They’re easy targets if things go awry.
Smart packaging is often as important as solid legal points. Think campaign contributions dressed as free speech or class actions as business killers. But a U.S. patent suit target may have gone too far in calling its accuser a troll. The justices prefer truth in advertising.
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