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Only a few weeks left to hit the beach, swim in the surf, pour on the sunblock, and trade the briefcase for a beach bag. Don’t forget to put a book in your bag � not Hillary Rodham Clinton’s overwrought memoir or Harry Potter’s overpraised adventures. Instead, bring along one that transforms you from a mere competent counsel to a trusted adviser, one that morphs you from expendable soldier to irreplaceable consigliere. Here are some suggestions for your summer reading. Learn the art of influence from The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling, a remarkable book by Annette Simmons. The author’s big idea: Stories beat facts every time, guide us in finding our wisdom, and enable us to drill down to the truth. Think about the last time someone said, “Let me tell you a story,” and how your ears perked up. Simmons teaches us that a story can be a parable (� la the mustard seed), or a one-liner (“You don’t need to cut a kitten in half to know why it’s cute”), or a personal story (“My mom said that people don’t change � they only reveal themselves”). Here’s a story we use with clients sued for unlawful discrimination. They often say, “We didn’t think about her sex when we fired her, and the employee’s lawyer just wants to focus on all this irrelevant stuff.” True enough, we say, but O.J. Simpson beat the rap by focusing not on the blood in the driveway but on how the Los Angeles Police Department stored it in a hot van or let it be carried around in the pocket of the lead detective’s suit. Simmons doesn’t so much explain the mechanics of telling a one-shot story as demonstrate a different and longer-lasting world view. As the saying goes, give a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime. Let’s take a look at the “truth” for a minute. Clients often ask, “If I can’t remember exactly what happened, then it’s perjury if I testify otherwise, isn’t it?” And there are plenty of variations to this lament, often voiced by executives upstream and downstream from the general counsel’s office. It’s a knotty dilemma. For help, read Nothing But the Truth: Why Trial Lawyers Don’t, Can’t, and Shouldn’t Have to Tell the Whole Truth. (In a provocative title competition, this is our runner-up to Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book.) Here, Northwestern University School of Law professor Steven Lubet takes some incisive scissors to this tough Gordian knot. Lubet walks us through literal vs. contextual truth, explains how to use context to allow a witness to testify more truthfully, and says vive la diff�rence as he looks at fictional (Atticus Finch) as well as true-life (Wyatt Earp) struggles with locating transcendent truth. The truth, no matter how you define it, took a beating from the ethically adventuresome exploits of those at the Enron Corp. and Arthur Andersen. To learn what went wrong at Enron, we recommend Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron by Austin, Texas-based writer Robert Bryce. The author asks: Why did it go bad? A good question, and the answer is as old as time: greed, arrogance, and ignorance, with the weak exploited and the strong rewarded (at least for a time). Bryce dissects Enron’s Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling as a very smart guy who allegedly latched onto creative accounting to inflate revenue; eviscerates Chairman Kenneth Lay, who allegedly ordered his sister’s travel agency be given all of Enron’s travel business; and dices Andrew Fastow, the chief financial officer, who allegedly dreamed up the off-balance-sheet partnerships, causing millions to lose their retirements, while making millions for himself. The author chastises the clueless board of directors for allegedly voting to suspend Enron’s ethics code. Bryce says Enron taught us that a fish starts to rot at its head. He concludes that a company goes bad when the top dogs don’t care and show it. Arthur Andersen’s demise is well-told by Andersen insider Barbara Toffler in Final Accounting: Ambition, Greed, and the Fall of Arthur Andersen. After finishing the book, co-written by Jennifer Reingold, we came away knowing that Andersen’s hardwired ethical compass would have saved it but for the overpowering greed choking off good sense. The authors write best about how Andersen “partners” allegedly prized business originations more than meeting client needs � and adherence to a stifling hierarchy more than truth telling. Toffler, who came to Andersen in the mid-1990s from her own consulting firm, doesn’t spare herself. Henry David Thoreau was right when he wrote in Walden, “A man needs only to be turned around once in this world to lose his way.” LEARNING TO NEGOTIATE While business integrity is of key concern to the GC’s office, so is knowing how to negotiate. Two of the best books we’ve read are Start With No: The Negotiating Tools That the Pros Don’t Want You to Know by Jim Camp and The Intelligent Negotiator: What to Say, What to Do, and How to Get What You Want � Every Time by Charles B. Craver. Start With No is an entertaining, well-written book with an unwavering conviction: “Win-win” negotiating is getting out of hand, and makes a sap out of at least one of the parties. Camp’s system is simple: You walk into a negotiation knowing only three things are important � a roof over your head, three meals a day, and a purpose in life. Believing this lets you walk away from any deal and gives the power to you, not your adversary. Camp’s penultimate negotiating tool, the one that clarifies the issues and clears the mind, is to look the other side in the eye and simply say no to a one-sided proposal. Not “Let’s think about options” or “Let’s look for common ground” or “Let’s figure out a way to reconcile our differences.” Not a chance, Camp says, because all this leads to is bad deals being cut. For a somewhat more conventional yet still penetrating look at negotiations, read The Intelligent Negotiator. Craver is a law professor at George Washington University Law School with loads of valuable tips, including always remembering your own and your counterparts’ nonsettlement options. Doing so makes for better deals. Calmly explaining to an opponent that better results are available through other avenues often compels resolution. Never be afraid to accept the consequences associated with nonsettlements, when those consequences are clearly preferable to what’s achievable through the negotiating process. Come to think of it, Craver is a little less in-your-face version of Camp. For those who want to have a Gen-X experience on their vacation, we recommend Brush With the Law: The True Story of Law Today at Harvard and Stanford by Robert Burnes and Jaime Marquardt. It’s the wild adventures of two recent graduates of these prestigious schools. You’ve got to love a book whose first sentence is “Dumb people go to Harvard Law School.” And speaking of Generation X, as well as developing empathy for their world view, check out A Working Stiff’s Manifesto: A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine That Fired Me, and Three I Can’t Remember by Iain Levison, a recent college graduate whose English degree prepared him for 42 jobs, including working as an “associate” at a fancy grocery store, a drone in a crab-processing plant in Alaska, and a heating oil delivery driver in Pennsylvania. Every lawyer defending corporate America needs to understand this generation: They are the ones sitting on juries for the next 20 years. Levison tells you how they think and why they think the way they do. It’s highly recommended. For a lesson in empathy for baby boomers, check out Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenrich. Ehrenrich, a successful writer, also worked a variety of menial jobs. She tells readers how it feels to be at the bottom of the food chain, one step ahead of eviction, and one step behind the rest of us. A key insight: A lot of smart people could not perform the kinds of jobs that nickel-and-dimed employees do � no job, no matter how lowly, is truly unskilled. Finally, take some time to hone those writing skills. Get to the Point: Painless Advice for Writing Memos, Letters and E-mails Your Colleagues and Clients Will Understand by Elizabeth Danziser offers painless advice on the passive vs. active voice, creating user-friendly correspondence, and smart punctuation use. And for the best book on legal writing that we’ve read, try Writing to Win: The Legal Writer. Steven D. Stark’s contribution to better writing starts from the premise that judges are people, and are not magically transformed into more intelligent and discerning humans by putting on robes. So tell the truth, but make the truth interesting, Stark advises, by using a lead (just like newspapers do), by embracing the belief that writers should spend more time on their stories � not refuting the other side’s version � and by figuring out what not to say. Corporate counsel need, even more so than their colleagues in firms, a broad knowledge base. Becoming a player in the boardroom requires more-complex and diverse skill sets. Reading gives them to you. Michael P. Maslanka is chairman of the labor and employment section at Godwin Gruber in Dallas. Theresa M. Gegen is a participating associate with the firm. This article first appeared in Texas Lawyer, an American Lawyer Media newspaper.

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