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Masters of the Game: Inside the World's Most Powerful Law Firm Hardcover – June 22, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Since the death in 1988 of Washington lawyer-fixer Edward Bennett Williams (The Man to See, by Evan Thomas, 1991), how has his firm of Williams & Connolly been faring? Very well in terms of billable hours and political sway, according to legal journalist and author Eisler (The Last Liberal: William J. Brennan, 1997). Profiling five partners and their cases since Williams' passing, Eisler casts some light on D.C.'s inner workings, especially during the Clinton presidency when Williams & Connolly attorneys such as David Kendall fended off special prosecutors. Partly helping to defray Bill and Hillary's legal expenses, however, was partner Robert Barnett, whose auctions of their memoirs exemplify how politicians get published. To show the media connection to D.C.'s legal-political nexus, Eisler tosses in stories about Williams & Connolly representing the Washington Post and the National Enquirer. The name-dropping doesn't let up: Brendan Sullivan defends Oliver North, Greg Craig defends Clinton against impeachment, and partner Larry Lucchino trades players from the Boston Red Sox. A diligently informative account of a DC power source. --Gilbert Taylor


"Vivid, savvy reportage.”--Kirkus Reviews

"A fascinating account of the ascendancy of Williams and Connolly to the highest reaches of the American law firm universe. Eisler vividly portrays a driven meritocracy, red of claw and fang, mastering the legal jungle with detail-laced portraits of the firm's major players and the rivals they almost invariably obliterated. Not coincidentally, Masters of the Game is also a riveting reference guide to many of the nation's most dramatic public showdowns of the past fifty years."--Hodding Carter III, former Assistant Secretary of State to President Carter, journalist, and Professor of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"This is a wise, authoritative and highly readable book. Kim Eisler has spent a good many years studying how Washington and Washington law firms work. In Masters of the Game, he shares with us what he has learned and tells the dramatic story of one fabled firm."--Stanley Cloud, former Washington bureau chief, Time, and co-author of The Murrow Boys and A Question of Honor

“As he did in Shark Tank, Kim Eisler exposes the good, the bad, and the ugly about the world of corporate law through the fascinating lens of one of America's most unique, powerful and controversial firms. A must-read for anyone contemplating a career as a lawyer.”--Nadine Strossen, Former President of American Civil Liberties Union and Professor of Law at the New York Law School


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312554249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312554248
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kim Eisler grew up in Lynchburg, Va., and graduated from George Washington University in 1974 with a BA in Political Science. Working his way through college as a copyboy at Time Magazine, Kim was on desk duty on the day of the Watergate break-in in 1973. When he suggested a story on the burglary, the New York office replied "passing on Watergate-too local." Thus was the way cleared for Woodward and Bernstein to become legends. After college Kim became a staff writer at the Delta Democrat Times working for legendary Southern editor Hodding Carter III. After uncovering a massive scandal regarding the operations of the Greenville-Lake Village Bridge, Kim moved his investigative reporting niche to The Tampa Tribune, eventually becoming the state capital bureau chief in Tallahassee. After five years with the Tribune, Kim took a job at the Los Angeles Daily Journal, the nation's most prestigious daily paper for the legal profession. After just a year, he was scooped up the American Lawyer Magazine, run by Steven Brill, later to be the founder of Court TV. It was American Lawyer that Kim established his credentials as the leading law firm reporter in the United States and that expertise landed him a contract as the author of Shark Tank, the story of how the country's largest law firm, Finley Kumble, crumbled as the law firm version of a Ponzi Scheme. Shark Tank's success led to the publication of The Last Liberal, a biography of influential Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Kim's third book was Revenge of the Pequots, the tale of how Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut was put together and changed the landscape of gambling in America. After several years writing magazine articles, Kim's newest book Masters of the Game, the story of how Williams & Connolly law firm elected a president, freed an assassin and won a world series, is scheduled for publication on June 22 by Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Press.

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Format: Hardcover
Kim Eisler certainly has his way with an anecdote. Here he treats his readers to the inside story of the Oliver North case, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Ted Stevens trial, and other famous cases of the last 25 years or so. His account of how Williams & Connolly became as powerful as it is today takes up the story more or less where Evan Thomas' outstanding biography of Edward Bennett Williams leaves off -- at Williams' death in 1988. Eisler (full disclosure -- a former journalistic colleague of mine at Legal Times) has obtained as much access as any other journalist, or more, to the notoriously publicity-shy partners at the firm, including Brendan Sullivan, who almost never discusses his cases publicly. This book is a great read. Eisler grabs the reader's attention and holds it. My only reservation is that it tells the story through the careers of five leading partners (who are all interesting individuals, don't get me wrong) but doesn't really tackle the firm as a whole. Other partners are often bit players in the story of the five central characters. Perhaps it's my many years as a legal reporter, but I would have enjoyed learning a bit more about the administrative and management decisions that firm leaders made over the years, the conflicts and strains that no doubt accompanied the firm's growth to a size of 250 lawyers, the interesting issues (I assume) of ensuring the success of minority and women lawyers in the firm, and so on.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very "readable." Introduces a lot of names in chapter intros, but he does a pretty good job working in references so you can keep track of who's who. Sometimes switches the references between first and last names, which can be confusing when tired.

Excellent analogies to todays' times, not stodgy or condescending.

Occasionally swings and misses. Said the film, The Silence of the Lambs, was about a FBI agent who prosecutes a cannibalistic killer. He was talking about first a psycho stalks Jodi Foster, then Jodi Foster plays a FBI agent after a psycho. Somehow, this oversight fits right into the lawyerly slanting and media spin jockeying.

Not enough to make it a bad read. Enjoyable and informative.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kudos to Kim Eisler for what is among the top 5 books I've ever read about the legal profession in general and large law firms in particular. This author knows his stuff, from a legal perspective, and, equally importantly, knows how to keep interest in his story. (The characters in this book are so larger-than-life, I suppose it was relatively easy for Eisler to write an interesting yarn featuring them, but he also manages to intertwine the various episodes well; in addition, his excellent grasp of the relevant legal concepts make you confident you are reading a knowledgeably-written book as well. Highly, highly recommended for anyone with even the slightest interest in either Washington politics or large law firm life, or both.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Any white collar criminal and all trial lawyers must read this interesting story of the representation every client should expect from his lawyer. The account of numerous and various legal engagements Williams & Connolly lawyers have been involved in since its founding outlines the ethical limits that are not crossed by the lawyers while aggressively, imaginatively and successfully representing clients. The representation by Sullivan, Barnett,Craig, Seligman et al is the epitome of the representation every client of every lawyer should expect and receive but as Masters clearly shows this type of legal work can be obtained from only Williams & Connolly. Regretfully the author gives almost no treatment of the firm's early years. Nonetheless, a masterful job of re- counting the more significant matters handled by a handful- albeit the most prominent- members of the Williams law firm and inculcating the firm's ethos in all of its lawyers for all types of matters. Masters is not a manual for lawyers; it is just an interesting chronology of various engagements for various clients and an extremely successful approach to trying cases.
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