In a revealing interview with law blog Bitter Lawyer, the distinguished investigative reporter Gerald Posner has some interesting comments on life at Wall Street firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where he practiced as an associate before becoming a journalist.
Sweat shop with a capital ‘S.’ I billed over 3300 hours the first year and I was not the highest biller in the firm. You had no life but the firm. The partners loved their practice, but that’s the only way you can stay at a place like that. Divorce was almost viewed as though an associate had made the decision to stay with the firm rather than have a personal life.
Posner was asked whether his legal training helped him as a journalist.
Big time. The major thing is that I’m not afraid of documents, after getting used to them on the antitrust litigation against IBM while at Cravath. So when I approached the JFK assassination, reporters would say there are tens and tens of thousands of pages of docs. And I’d think, ‘So?’ Also, non-lawyers tend to be more impressed with a legal degree than they should – it helps open up doors.
Posner also shared his insights into the reason for enduring conspiracy theories on issues such as the Kennedy assassination and 9/11.
Conspiracies are so much more satisfying when a major accident or death takes place that shakes up our world. We hate to think our lives can be changed by random acts of violence by sociopathic losers in life – like Lee Oswald or James Earl Ray.