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Eat What You Kill: The Fall of a Wall Street Lawyer Paperback – December 22, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0472031603 ISBN-10: 0472031600

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press (December 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472031600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472031603
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #539,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The book makes for sobering reading, precisely because it is about much more than the downfall of an individual lawyer or a black eye to a prestigious firm.... If you read only one book about the legal profession this year, let it be Eat What You Kill. - National Law Review "This is a spell-binding book that... does for corporate and bankruptcy law what A Civil Action did to illuminate the practice of personal injury law.... It is no puffery to describe [it] as a spellbinder and a page-turner.... [Eat What You Kill] deserves to be adopted as supplemental reading in courses in legal ethics, bankruptcy, corporate law, and for courses in the legal professions..." - Michael L. Rustad, Thomas F. Lambert Jr. Professor of Law & Co-Director of Intellectual Property Law Program, Suffolk University Law School "Eat What You Kill is gripping and well written.... It weaves in academic commentary and understanding of professional ethics issues in a way that makes it accessible to everyone." - Frank Partnoy, University of San Diego Law School"

About the Author

Milton C. Regan, Jr., is Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center.

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Customer Reviews

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A better read, simply as a page-turner, than many novels.
Jamesian
That book is amazingly readable alongside being informative and well-briefed law-wise.
PHIL
I read this book on recommendation from a Penn Law Prof before I came to law school.
Oramel Skinner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Donovan G. Rinker on May 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Read for: lessons in bankruptcy law and practice, junk bonds, vulture investment, corporate law generally, white collar crime and trial tactics, and a nuanced ethical exploration

Avoid if: seeking simple answers, easily bored by thorough and balanced legal arguments

"Eat What You Kill" explores in excruciating detail the rise and fall of John Gellene, bankruptcy attorney extraordinaire, who failed to disclose a conflict of interest which landed him in prison.

Yet Milton Regan's book offers more than an ethics case study. A blow-by-blow survey of corporate restructuring, bankruptcy litigation tactics, and white collar criminal prosecution, Regan's book overwhelms with useful instruction. Though focused upon Gellene's life at law, Regan uses it as a prism to explore the environment of many others swimming in the same waters.

Lay readers may find the professorial tone both vice and virtue, as the riches grow tiresome to anyone uninterested in following the pros, cons, counter-pros, and counter-cons of various litigation tactics and arguments. Within this web of contextual detail, the ethical story threads diverse legal doctrines.

Offering no simple denunciations or defenses, Regan sees Gellene as merely a lawyer who tends to lie to avoid the consequences of his own negligence. Flawed, perhaps, but hardly a gross flaw.

Refraining from potshots or praise permits Regan to hold Gellene accountable while looking more deeply into the practice of corporate law itself. Regan's conclusions seem to be that lawyers, preoccupied with the business of law, lose sight of its spirit.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Inquiring Mind on August 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Hats off to Professor Regan for his prodigious research and painstaking, vivid recreation of the saga of a prominent lawyer's startling rise and fall --an all-the-more remarkable achievement given Gellene's refusal to cooperate in this project. This is an amazing look-behind-the-curtain as to: how large law partnerships reward and penalize their producers and non-producers; how complicated bankruptcy negotiations unfold; how investment bankers and vulture investors exploit weakened corporations; how a brilliant professional succumbed under pressure to career-ending ethical blunders; and much more. An extremely valuable reading experience for practioners and students of law and business that deserves to be a best-seller.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jamesian on December 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A better read, simply as a page-turner, than many novels.

Gellene, the protagonist/anti-hero of this book, graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Georgetown with degrees in philosophy and economics. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, then clerked for Justice Morris Pashman of the New Jersey Supreme Court. Pretty impressive resume, eh? He had the "world at his feet," yet before much more time had passed he was in a prison cell.

This book should act as a warning on several levels. On one of them, it warns a certain type of investor about the nature of the chapter 11 process (in the course of which Gellene made the false statements that led to his downfall). Vulture investing in the instruments of distressed companies going through this process isn't an explicit theme of the book, one it ends up here nonetheless. There are traps for vultures, too.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen W. Sather on July 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Eat What You Kill: The Fall of a Wall Street Lawyer is the story of John Gellene, the only attorney to ever go to jail for making an incomplete disclosure of "connections" to creditors and parties in a bankruptcy case. While it is clear that Gellene committed an ethical lapse, the fact that he was prosecuted, convicted and served time is truly surprising. Others have failed to disclose much more and have suffered much lighter consequences. As a result, the question of why this particular case resulted in a prison sentence rather than a slap on the wrist is really interesting, particularly to lawyers.

This is a book about lawyers and the law, so that a little background on the law is helpful Representing large companies in bankruptcy is big business. The fees can run into the millions of dollars. In order to secure one of these potentially lucrative appointments, the lawyer must seek court approval of his employment and demonstrate that he is "disinterested." To show that he is "disinterested," the lawyer must submit a sworn statement disclosing his "connections" to the debtor and its creditors. Since the statement is submitted under penalty of perjury, a false statement is subject to criminal prosecution.

In the Gellene case, the large New York law firm of Milbank, Tweed was hired to represent Bucyrus-Erie Corporation in its bankruptcy proceeding. The bankruptcy was very contentious because the largest unsecured creditor, Jackson National Life, had accused the company's investment banker, Goldman Sachs, with manipulating the company's financial affairs to its own benefit.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book on recommendation from a Penn Law Prof before I came to law school.

It not only tells a great story, but for those in law or entering law it manages to tell that story while at the same time showing the trials and tribulations related to life in large law firms where the "eat what you kill" model is in place.

It doesn't leave you pitying lawyers or try to send too strong a moral message, it just tells a real life story in a way that illustrates the unique pressures of this world.
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