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High tech may be the business story of the decade. But when historians look back on this century, they may see something else as the dominant economic theme of the last 50 years: the conversion of the corporation into a commodity that was bought, sold, rebought, spun off, taken private, leveraged, and then deleveraged and taken public again. Joe Flom was instrumental in that reinvention of American business, helping to engineer many of the biggest proxy fights of the sixties and the hostile tender offers of the seventies and eighties. At the same time, he had a vision for his law firm that turned Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom – an upstart even in the 1960s – into the largest legal business in the world, with revenues approaching $1 billion.

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