Arthur Liman, a prominent partner at the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, died in 1997 after a distinguished career spanning four decades. He represented moguls and big corporations, but was at least as well-known through his public service record, first as counsel for the New York state investigation into the 1971 Attica prison uprising, and then as chief counsel for the Senate Iran-Contra hearings in the mid-1980s. Perhaps because Liman is circumspect with his clients' confidences, or perhaps because he died before he could completely edit his work, Lawyer
doesn't have quite the same storytelling rhythm that one gets from, say, Alan Dershowitz
. The anecdotal nature of the work, primarily cataloging Liman's successes and failures, makes for a certain sketchiness as autobiography, and lawyers might hope for more practice pointers rather than stories.
Liman's defense of one of his more notorious clients, Michael Milken, is strong, however, and he has entertaining and cogent observations on the multi-billion-dollar Pennzoil v. Texaco litigation. A subtext throughout the book is how the practice of law has changed over the years; the computer-dependent young associate of today will marvel at Liman's descriptions of the need for knitting needles to organize documents in complex litigation in the late 1950s. All in all, Liman's collection of tales and personal experiences provides a pleasant and engrossing read. --Ted Frank
From Publishers Weekly
High-powered trial lawyer Liman became a face known to millions when, as chief counsel to the Senate committee investigating the Iran-Contra affair, he grilled Oliver North and John Poindexter in televised hearings. In this earnest, energetic autobiography, Liman, who died last year at 65, portrays a Reagan White House out of control, run by zealous aides. He lambastes the Reagan administration for its disdain for constitutional procedures and its use of covert actions circumventing our system of checks and balances. A lifelong liberal Democrat, Liman voices his opposition to capital punishment because of the discrimination and racism he sees in how the death penalty is applied. His experience as head of an independent investigation into the 1971 Attica prison rebellion, in which 29 inmates and 10 hostages were killed in upstate New York, convinced him that U.S. prisons, dens of institutionalized racism, systematically degrade and brutalize blacks and Hispanics. Liman has had some controversial clients, notably convicted junk-bond trader Michael Milken, whom he lamely defends here as a scapegoat "vilified as the symbol of greedy and uncaring capitalism." This memoir combines genuine courtroom drama and frank insights into trial lawyers' tactics, as Liman replays cases involving such clients as Steve Ross of Time Warner and flamboyant entrepreneur Charles Bluhdorn, who created the Gulf + Western conglomerate. 8-page b&w photo insert. Agent, Wallace Literary Agency.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.