Duane Wall was just getting comfortable in March 1981 when his phone rang. Wall, the new partner in charge of White & Case’s London office, and his wife had just finished redecorating the firm’s house, and they were looking forward to enjoying the British scene. The telephone call from Wall’s friend and mentor James Hurlock was sad and urgent. A senior banking partner had collapsed on a dance floor the night before, and Hurlock, the firm’s new chairman, needed Wall to return to New York to take over the practice. Wall shakes his head as he recounts the story. When he hung up, he said, he poured two strong drinks, one for himself and one for his wife waiting upstairs. And he rehearsed what he had to say: Here is the drink you’re going to need when you hear the news.

It’s 19 years later, and it’s time to pour a couple more stiff ones.

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