Let’s face it: Most lawyers like to talk. That’s lucky for us legal journalists—especially in a year like the one just winding down. Below are some of the more memorable quotes ALM reporters gathered in 2017, on subjects ranging from the White House legal team to law firm economics to the legal industry’s cyber fears. (This collection leaves out the ever-quotable gang of lawyers and justices over at the U.S. Supreme Court, who also had plenty to say in 2017.)
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On representing the president of the United States:
“It may be that this president is the worst client in the history of legal representation. He’s got really good lawyers at the Department of Justice, and I don’t know why he wants to make their life harder.”
—D.C. bar association president Matt Kaiser on why some lawyers in private practice may have been reluctant to take on Donald Trump as a client.
“If the president asks you, you don’t say no. I have rocks in my head and steel balls.”
On the state of competition in the legal market:
“Some of the mergers are just two drunks propping each other up.”
—Law firm consultant Janet Stanton of Adam Smith Esq. in New York, on law firms getting hitched for the wrong reasons.
“I have 116 lawyers at this firm. They need to feed their families.”
—Steve Susman, a co founder of Houston’s Susman Godfrey, on his firm’s move to limit its contingency work and cultivate more steady defense-side clients.
“The demand for legal work is exploding. … It’s not shrinking. The demand for the existing type of legal work that’s being supplied in the market, that’s what’s shrinking.”
—Gillian Hadfield, a law and economics professor at the University of Southern California, on the need for lawyers who can supply innovative and strategically-minded legal advice.
“We have concluded that the best way to allow our lawyers to continue providing great service to our clients is by ceasing operations and moving to other excellent law firms.”
—Firm leaders at Sedgwick, announcing the 85-year-old Am Law 200 firm will shut down in early January.
On cyberthreats and cryptocurrencies:
“Suffice it to say, it’s going to touch hundreds if not thousands of different points of business, and not only in the U.S. It’s a nightmare, there’s no doubt about it.”
—John Sweeney of the cybersecurity firm LogicForce, on the aftermath of a major ransomware attack on DLA Piper.
“We are seeing more deals not going through or failing because of cybersecurity and privacy issues.”
—Christine Lyon, a partner at Morrison & Foerster, on how companies’ vulnerabilities to cyberattacks can stall mergers and acquisitions.
“The most dangerous guy in the room is the guy who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.”
—Gregory Lisa, a partner at Hogan Lovells in Washington, on how some traditional bank leaders are dismissive of Bitcoin’s significance but still expect lawyers to understand the currency’s legal implications.
On the race for legal innovation:
“If you were at Weil Gotshal or Kirkland, and your rate was $800 an hour and the client really loved you, then the client is going to really love you at $450 an hour.”
—Grant Walsh, a co-founder of Culhane Meadows, on the flexibility of working for a virtual law firm.
“It just re-emphasizes the message companies have been trying to get through the head of law firms: that legal services, the way they’re being currently delivered, are really inefficient and expensive.”
—Former Davis Polk & Wardwell and Heller Ehrman associate Josh Rosenfeld, now an executive at alternative service provider QuisLex, on a big legal outsourcing deal involving DXC Technology Co. and UnitedLex Corp.
“We envision a world where we can create a contract without writing it and understand a contract without reading it.”
—Elena Donio, the CEO of Axiom, on the enticing future for alternative legal services providers.
On representing Harvey Weinstein—and what #MeToo means for law firms:
“I came to see Harvey as a flawed human being who wants to be better.”
—Lisa Bloom, a plaintiffs lawyer and daughter of Gloria Allred, before finally quitting her representation of film producer and alleged sexual predator Harvey Weinstein.
“This is one in which I think everybody believes that litigation would be a bad thing for everybody.”
—David Boies on navigating his representation of the embattled movie producer, amid his firm’s representation of The Weinstein Co.
“When someone abuses their power, that’s when it’s a problem. … And if you have a policy and don’t enforce it, it’s even worse for the firm.”
—Jonathan Kurens, a lawyer with Marsh Inc. who advises law firms on managing risk, on law firm policies governing sexual relationships between partners, associates and staff.