By Nathan Koppel
The American Lawyer
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Mark Lanier has racked up hundreds of millions worth of verdicts and settlements in his home state of Texas. Now can he take that show on the road? By Nathan Koppel
In the fall of 2002, Houston trial lawyer Mark Lanier got the sort of phone call that he loves: John Simmons, an Illinois plaintiffs lawyer, wanted Lanier’s help trying a case. It was an asbestos suit against Honeywell International Inc., and the trial was due to begin in Madison County, Illinois, in one week. At the time, Lanier was 42 and already well-known, with verdicts of $417 million and $118 million on his resume, along with hundreds of settlements worth at least $1 million.
Lanier says he loves the frantic intensity of trying to get up to speed on a case in a hurry. So, he loaded up his “trial mobile”_a customized recreational vehicle with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, office, and a conference room that seats nine_and headed to Illinois. The young lawyer approached the job with his typical gunslinger’s bravado. After Lanier pulled into town, on the day before jury selection, Honeywell’s counsel, Dennis Dobbels, met with him in the trial mobile to talk settlement. But Lanier was in attack mode. “I’m going to ambush your client,” he told Dobbels. “We’re not going to talk settlement.” Dobbels persisted, according to Lanier, and suggested a 60-day continuance to try to work through the parties’ differences. “No,” Lanier replied, “then it will be a planned attack, not an ambush.” (Dobbels declined to comment about the settlement discussions.)
Beyond the bluster, though, Lanier faced a potential problem. He had never tried a case outside of his home state, and he wasn’t sure Illinois jurors would warm to his west Texas drawl. So, during jury selection, Lanier addressed his concerns head-on. “I’ve got to . . . make sure I’m communicating with people,” he told the jury. “First of all, how many of y’all say y’all?” No one’s hand went up. “Y’all need to learn that word,” he continued, “it’s a good word.” A few jurors chuckled, and Lanier relaxed. “The South sells up north. They consider it charming,” Lanier says, thinking back to the trial. In fact, Lanier would never learn the extent of his southern charm. The case settled several days into trial. Honeywell paid $35 million to resolve the suit plus some other cases that Lanier and Simmons had pending against the company.
The Honeywell settlement left unanswered a lingering question: Is Lanier a regional star or a truly national talent, like a John Keker or David Boies, who can handle high-profile disputes in every corner of the country? The question, of course, wouldn’t come up if Lanier’s abundant talents weren’t already turning so many heads. He is a born entertainer, who can light up a courtroom with stories, jokes, and flashy exhibits. The former divinity student can also convey the folksy credibility and heartfelt conviction of a small-town preacher. Defense lawyers sometimes scoff at Lanier’s showmanship, and it’s fair to say he lays it on thick in trial. But it’s hard to argue with success. In the last five years, the head of the The Lanier Law Firm of Houston (totaling 16 attorneys) has alternated between good years, when he has earned $5-10 million, and very good years, when he has taken home north of $10 million.
To date, though, Lanier has still never tried a case outside Texas. He usually limits himself to small Texas towns, where jurors lap up his sometimes hokey selling tactics. But if Lanier’s career continues on the same trajectory, he will eventually confront jurors who are even more culturally dissimilar than those in rural Illinois. Lanier has recently acquired the vehicle to prove that he is ready for this next challenge. Last year he was hired to represent former partners of San Francisco’s Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, once among the most lucrative law firms in the country. The Brobeck partners have sued their ex-chairman, Tower Snow, Jr., claiming that he caused Brobeck to implode when he left in 2002 to work for a competing firm. The battle over Brobeck is the legal soap opera of the day. Better yet, the case is filed in Oakland (where some of the partners live). The Lanier Show, it seems, will soon have another chance to hit the road.
It’s afternoon in late 2003 at Bice Ristorante, an Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan, and Lanier has settled into a table in the middle of the room. He is in town on business, but he is more eager to talk about a social engagement later tonight. Lanier will have a chance to meet one of his heroes: Bono, the lead singer of the rock group U2. Bono is an amateur artist, and he will be auctioning off some of his artwork for charity. Lanier says that he has chartered a jet to fly his son_a freshman at Cornell University_down from Ithaca, New York, for the auction. And, he adds, “I have a plan.” Lanier leans forward and lowers his voice, almost conspiratorially. He says that he is going to try to corner Bono, at some point in the evening, and offer to make a half-million-dollar donation to the charity of the singer’s choice if he will play at Lanier’s annual Houston Christmas party. “It just may work,” he says with a gleam. (By early February, Lanier didn’t have a definite response but said he was still hopeful.)
Lanier is a curious combination. He is a devout Christian, an archconservative, and a devotee of clean living: He runs five miles a day, and doesn’t drink, swear, or even touch caffeine. Yet, he is also boisterous_ almost rowdy. Work often seems secondary to him, and he is forever throwing himself into some grandiose, offbeat hobby: planting 3,000 blueberry bushes, raising potbellied pigs, collecting ancient Hebrew manuscripts (he is an almost fluent speaker and reader of Hebrew).
None of his hobbies consume more time and money than his Christmas party, now in its twelfth year. It is geared toward kids, and Lanier transforms his 20-acre estate into a Texas Disneyland, complete with carnival rides, climbing walls, and massive, inflatable moonwalks. This year’s party, held on December 14, had a mere 7,000 attendees, including, seemingly, every judge and politician in Texas. Around 4 P.M., the party-going hordes gathered inside a massive tent_nestled in the shadows of Lanier’s 24,000-square-foot Spanish colonial mansion_where Bill Cosby performed a stand-up act followed by a concert from the Reverend Al Green. The tab for the party: $650,000.
Lanier, it seems, has always been in pretty close proximity to the spotlight. Even at an early age, he was a gifted speaker who knew that he would make his living on his feet, as a preacher, politician, or trial lawyer. He grew up in a lower middle-class home in Lubbock, Texas, a conservative ranching community. His father was a salesman for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and his mother was a homemaker. The Laniers were very religious and attended church regularly. It was at Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock that Lanier’s passion for oratory took flight. On Sunday nights pastor Ken Dye would allow Lanier, as a high school student, to preach to the congregants. “We had a church of over 1,000 [members], but I was never really nervous,” says Lanier. He would preach to even larger crowds at Christian youth seminars in Texas. And he further honed his rhetorical skills as a high school debater, winning the state championship and attending the national forensic-league competition in his senior year. His debate partner Craig Haynes, now a partner at Dallas’s Thompson & Knight, says Lanier was not a hard worker; he often prepared in the bus on the way to a tournament. But Lanier was never less than dazzling, adds Haynes. “He had a way of really saying anything in a convincing way even if it was not right on its merits,” he says.
Lanier obtained a seminary degree at Lipscomb University, a Church of Christ college in Nashville, with the thought that he’d become a man of the cloth. But after college, he detoured to Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock. He was a fairly ordinary law student, but he would literally talk his way into a good first job. In his third year of law school, Lanier won the American Bar Association’s national moot court competition and captured the best speaker award. His final round was judged by Blake Tartt, then a senior partner at Houston’s Fulbright & Jaworski. Tartt was so impressed by Lanier that he suggested that the law student consider working for Fulbright. Lanier flew to Houston for a round of interviews, which culminated with a job offer.
“To this day,” says Lanier, “I don’t think Fulbright ever looked at my transcript.”
A big firm was a bad fit for Lanier. He worked at Fulbright from 1983 to 1989 and got a rare opportunity as a junior associate to try more than 20 cases. But he didn’t like billing by the hour, and he wanted the freedom to represent clients whom he cared about. He also felt miscast as a defense lawyer. In court, defense lawyers are typically the voice of calm; they try to persuade jurors that reason should prevail over sympathy or anger. At Fulbright, though, Lanier often acted more like a plaintiffs lawyer; he loved to provoke jurors. Instead of trying to subtly trip up hostile witnesses, for example, Lanier would flat-out accuse them of lying and then enumerate on a giant flip chart exactly how they had lied. “Mark had to jump to the plaintiffs side because he was really aggressive on the defense side,” says Lawrence Wilson, who worked with Lanier at Fulbright and is now an associate at the Lanier firm.
Lanier formed his firm in 1990, and he quickly made his mark. The first client to walk in his door was John Littlejohn, who knew Lanier through a mutual friend. Littlejohn claimed that oil giant Amoco Production Co had breached an agreement to sell a Wyoming oil field to Littlejohn’s company, Rubicon Petroleum Incorporated. Lanier wisely took the case. Having assumed the case would settle, Lanier began to worry as the trial approached that he might have trouble being taken seriously because he was only 33 and looked like he was barely out of high school. So, almost on a lark, Lanier cold-called Houston’s John O’Quinn, one of the wealthiest and most successful trial lawyers in the country, only weeks before trial. Lanier told O’Quinn about the Rubicon case and said that it was worth a half-billion dollars but that he needed someone older to help him try it. “O’Quinn said, “Get your butt over here!” ” Lanier recalls. He made a ten-minute pitch to O’Quinn at his office and convinced the trial kingpin to sign on to the case.
As the lawyers prepared feverishly for trial, O’Quinn taught Lanier a lesson in hard work. O’Quinn’s system during trial was simple: work 20 hours a day, take Saturdays off, and then, after church on Sunday, start back up again. The O’Quinn boot camp made Lanier realize that he couldn’t succeed on natural talent alone. “I learned more in eight weeks trying that case with O’Quinn,” he says, “than I had learned in the previous eight years.”
At trial O’Quinn and Lanier divvied up responsibilities: O’Quinn handled the damages portion of the case, and Lanier tackled liability. The four-week trial featured little of the pizzazz that has come to characterize a Lanier production. Lanier says he was more concerned about learning the ropes than delivering knockouts. But a knockout would come nonetheless. Jurors awarded the plaintiff $417 million. The parties later settled for a little under $50 million_a far cry from the verdict, but still enough for Lanier, who says he collected several million dollars in fees, to realize a drastically upgraded lifestyle.
After crossing the Rubicon, Lanier’s career took off. Instead of seeking out older lawyers for help, he could sit back while attorneys called on him. And call they did, sending Lanier every manner of personal injury case, from automobile accidents to medical malpractice claims. In 1994 one Mississippi lawyer sent Lanier 1,500 asbestos clients; Lanier had never handled an asbestos case, but he would soon learn. In the mid-nineties, Lanier handled a steady stream of trials and perfected his dramatic courtroom style.
In court Lanier makes no apologies for looking to create Perry Mason moments. He wants jurors to “ooh” and “aah.” He wants adverse witnesses to break down crying on the stand. His goal is not to prove merely that a defendant caused a plaintiff’s injury but to show further that the defendant is evil_and the plaintiff, virtuous.
Lanier is particularly effective at delivering his overheated message, say lawyers who have seen him in action, because he speaks to jurors in a language that they can understand. Lanier often recasts his arguments as simple moral axioms_in the Rubicon case, his consistent message to the jury was, “Your word is your bond.” He also uses Scripture to illustrate claims. In one 1997 trial involving a boating accident, Lanier quoted so heavily from the Bible that the defense lawyer, Spencer Markle, says that he thought that Lanier had gone overboard and possibly offended the jury. Still, Markle says that he couldn’t resist quoting the Good Book himself. In his closing argument, Markle argued that if the plaintiff is so religious, why didn’t he follow Apostle John’s mandate in Corinthians to “not sue thy Christian brother.” Lanier immediately stood up and objected. Apostle Paul wrote that passage, Lanier said, not John. Lanier won the scriptural battle_the judge sustained his objection_ and the legal war; his client recovered a $100,000 verdict.
Another favorite Lanier device is to develop testimony through the medium of stories, or vignettes, drawn from everyday life. A typical example comes from a trial last year, in which Lanier argued that a hospital hadn’t adequately fed his client. When he examined the attending nurse, Lanier asked her if she had children. The nurse said that she did, so Lanier sketched out a hypothetical about baby-sitters. “When I leave my children with a baby sitter, I will leave some food to eat or money to order a pizza,” Lanier told the nurse. Then, he says, he asked the nurse the following question or one close to it: “Now, how would you feel, if you came back one night, and the baby-sitter says, “Pay, pay me.” And you ask, “How did the kids do?” And she says, “Oh, fine but I decided not to feed them.” What if the baby-sitter has your kids all day long but doesn’t feed them breakfast, lunch, or dinner, how good would you feel?” Lanier doesn’t recall the answer, but he says the answer is irrelevant. “The mere asking of the question was the key,” he says. “You want everyone on the jury to address that question in their mind.” Lanier settled the malpractice case, midway through trial, for $1.45 million. “Lanier’s strength is that he can mix well with common people. He really connects with juries,” says Jeffrey Hastings of Houston’s Spain Hastings & Wood. Hastings lost a $2.75 million verdict to Lanier last year in a suit involving a man struck and killed by a train.
Lanier does not rely on folksiness alone to reach jurors. He also tries razzle-dazzle. In one 1999 trial, for example, he used a three-foot water balloon for dramatic effect. The plaintiffs in the case claimed that their water had been polluted by an Exxon Corp. gas well. Exxon conceded that its well had leaked. But Lanier was keen on conveying to the jury that the well had actually suffered a more damaging blowout, not a mere “leak.” To illustrate the difference, Lanier took the water balloon, hoisted it onto his shoulders, and pricked it with a needle. A thin stream of water squirted out. That, Lanier told the jury, is a leak. Then Lanier pulled out a pair of scissors and said, ” “Let’s look at a blowout.”. . . When I cut the balloon, it exploded,” he recalls. “The water is all over my hair, my face, my suit. The jury cracks up, the court cracks up, even the witnesses and the bad guys are laughing.” (The jury returned a $7 million verdict, but it was reversed on appeal. The case is still pending on appeal.) “[Lanier] did a great job of taking a complicated case and simplifying it, making it readily comprehensible to someone with a high school-level education,” says Dennis Reich of Houston’s Reich & Binstock, one of the plaintiffs counsel in the case.
Lanier’s skills at simplification are perfectly attuned to the rural Texas counties where he files many of his lawsuits. Lanier is especially fond of filing cases in Angleton, a small, working-class town near Houston, where jurors are generally not highly educated but are known to be friendly to plaintiffs. Texas lawyers accuse Lanier of forum shopping and say that his gold-plated reputation is undercut by the fact that he often enjoys a home court advantage. The Rubicon case, for example, was tried in Bay City, Texas, another plaintiffs redoubt. “The question is whether [Lanier] can translate his success once he gets out of his favorable venues,” says a Houston trial lawyer, who spoke on background. But Lanier claims that he files cases outside of Houston, which has a very conservative judiciary, so that he can get to trial quickly, not to achieve a certain result. Whatever his motives, Lanier has done very well in the sticks.
It was in Angleton in 1998 that Lanier scored what is perhaps his greatest trial victory. He represented 21 steelworkers who claimed to have been injured by an asbestos-containing grinding wheel, which was made by the defendant, The Carborundum Company. Lanier was at his rabble-rousing best in the case. He sought to demonize the defendant by arguing that it had long known that asbestos was dangerous but had refused to own up to the dangers. Carborundum played into his hands by steadfastly denying that chrysotile asbestos_the asbestos at issue_was dangerous. In another classic bit of courtroom stagecraft, during the cross-examination of a defense expert, Lanier picked up a jar of salt and a spoon. Slowly, he filled the spoon. “I took very deliberate steps, trying to pour the salt almost grain by grain,” he recalls. He then held the spoon aloft and asked the expert if she had a son. Yes, the expert said, she had a 17-year-old son. According to the trial transcript, Lanier asked, “If [your son] came home and said, “Mom, I got a job, and in this job I’m going to have to breathe some asbestos, but I looked at it and I probably won’t have to breathe more than this spoonful maybe once a year”_are you going to say, “Hey, good, son. Go for it”?”
“I would be very happy he had a job,” the expert replied. “But that amount of asbestos is unlikely_if it’s pure chrysotile, it’s unlikely to cause disease.”
“So, it wouldn’t bother you?” Lanier asked.
“I’m not certain,” the expert said. “I would have to think about it before I decided.”
In the end, Lanier says, the expert’s answer was again irrelevant. If she had said no to the hypothetical, that would have helped, he says. But, he adds, if she had said yes, the ten mothers on the jury would have considered her a “fool and an idiot” and would not have trusted anything else she said. Lanier’s gambit evidently worked. He says that jurors later told him that it was the most important moment in the trial. They awarded the plaintiffs $115 million: $15 million in actual damages, and $100 million in punitive damages. Before trial, Carborundum had offered only $30,000 to settle the case. (Carborundum’s attorney, Jeffrey Marsh of Houston’s Mattingly & Marsh, did not return calls for comment.) Eventually Lanier settled the case for about $15 million, because, he says, he was certain that Texas’s conservative appellate courts would toss out his punitive award.
After the Carborundum case, Lanier became an even bigger force in the asbestos bar. He was asked to speak at industry confabs and share his trial secrets. Today, he continues to maintain an active docket of asbestos cases. All told, he says, asbestos work accounts for about 50 percent of his firm’s revenue.
But Lanier is quick to claim that he is not just an asbestos lawyer. Rather, he says, he is a trial lawyer. Lanier does, in fact, seem to have graduated into the sort of gun-for-hire who can cross genres with ease. In July, for example, he is scheduled to begin an antitrust trial pitting two large manufacturers of medical syringes against each other. He is currently advising one of the largest American food companies (Lanier won’t say who), as it prepares to defend itself against claims that it has contributed to an epidemic of obesity around the country. Recently, Lanier has even become a friend of Wall Street, forming The Lanier Group to advise stock analysts and brokers about public companies’ litigation exposure.
As Lanier has rapidly scaled the trial ranks, he has left a few bruised egos in his wake. Some of Lanier’s opponents complain that he is overly aggressive and bombastic, though it is hard to find critics who will speak on the record. Robert Thackston is one attorney who openly questions Lanier’s flair for the dramatic. Thackston squared off against Lanier last year in an Angleton trial. Lanier’s client claimed that he had been exposed to asbestos at a Daimler Chrysler Corporation plant. Lanier found a history of Chrysler in a public library, which he used to craft his opening argument. Lanier told jurors that the car company had faced financial pressures in the 1960s and 1970s, which caused its plants to fall into disrepair and its plant workers to be exposed to asbestos. Thackston, who represented Chrysler, questions the accuracy of Lanier’s historical tale. “When I heard his opening, I thought, nice [John] Grisham novel. This would make a great movie,” he says. “I have never seen a lawyer talk about so much stuff that he couldn’t prove,” adds Thackston. “[Lanier’s] goal was to be very dramatic. . . . He was just trying to get the jury mad.” Lanier says he could have easily backed up his claims. In the end, he didn’t have to. The parties settled during trial for a confidential amount. “They paid well north of my pretrial demand,” Lanier boasts.
Lanier’s side business has also come under fire. Houston trial lawyer Scott Lassetter characterizes The Lanier Group as a conduit for thinly veiled scare tactics. He says Lanier tries to pressure his opponents into settling by threatening to disclose negative details about them to analysts. Lassetter is defending Union Carbide Corporation against an asbestos suit filed by Lanier’s client, Kelly-Moore Paint Company, Inc. Kelly-Moore is typically an asbestos defendant, but it is now looking for indemnity, claiming that Union Carbide sold it asbestos and falsely assured Kelly-Moore that asbestos was safe. Lassetter says that Lanier has talked to analysts about the litigation. “[Union Carbide] is outraged,” says Lassetter, a partner with Weil, Gotshal & Manges. “The disclosures that [Lanier] makes to analysts read like a plaintiff’s opening statement. . . . Corporations are asked to respond, but they are not as uninhibited in their comments as a plaintiffs lawyer.”
“I have yet to have someone settle with me because they feared I’d tank their stock price,” Lanier counters.
Late last year on a Monday morning, Lanier sat in his large Houston office, which was crammed with file folders and stacks of paper. He had recently purchased his own office building, a squat brick structure with “The Lanier Law Firm” emblazoned on its side. It is in the northwestern suburbs of Houston, only a few minutes drive from Lanier’s home; with five children and a packed trial schedule, Lanier doesn’t have a lot of time to waste on a commute. Today, though, over the course of several hours, he would put his work aside and recount some of his past trial glories. As is typical, he drew an audience; his assistant and two of his associates sat in his office and listened, surprisingly attentively (or dutifully), to war stories they must have heard countless times before.
Toward the end of the conversation, Lanier looked to the future. He said that he didn’t have any specific quantitative goals. He wasn’t looking to grow his firm to a certain size or to boost his earnings by a certain amount. A few years ago a younger, brasher Lanier was fond of boasting that he would one day top the epic $11 billion Texaco-Pennzoil verdict. But now, he said, he would focus on handling cases that excite him, like the Brobeck dispute.
Lanier was hired to work on the case by Stephen Snyder, a former Brobeck chairman, who was referred to Lanier by David McClain, a Bay Area plaintiffs lawyer. Lanier concedes that it won’t be easy to prove that Tower Snow, Jr., destroyed Brobeck by leaving in 2002 for Clifford Chance, with Brobeck partners and clients in tow [Bar Talk, November 2003]. But he says that he couldn’t pass up the case when he learned how distraught some partners were about the breakup of the firm. The suit has not yet been set for trial, but Lanier has already prepared his courtroom spiel: “We have Enron behavior at a law firm,” he says in a fever pitch. Snow referred questions to Clifford Chance, which has also been named a defendant. In a prepared statement the firm said, “We believe we acted appropriately in our dealings with Brobeck and with the former Brobeck partners who joined Clifford Chance.”
Lanier is ready for battle in the Brobeck case, but are Oakland jurors ready for him? The attorney doesn’t betray any doubt. He says that he is a chameleon who can easily “lose the Texas effect,” because he spent much of his childhood in flux. His father’s railroad job took the Laniers all over the country. Lanier, for example, lived in Rochester, New York, from the second through the seventh grades. Lanier says that he has actually conducted several mock trials in New York City_complete with virtual juries_because he has considered taking cases there. “I did well in the mock trials,” he says. He hasn’t filed a lawsuit in New York yet, but he says he is dying to do so_and plans to open a New York office in the next few years: “It is one of my favorite places on planet Earth.”
Leslie Gordon Fagen, co-chair of litigation for New York’s Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, thinks Lanier can do well in the Big Apple. “I don’t love Mark Lanier. He is a tough adversary,” says Fagen, who is opposing Lanier in a Texas antitrust suit. “But the truth is, he is very formidable, because he understands what moves and animates jurors. I think he has got the kind of instincts where he could be a good jury lawyer anywhere.”
On a recent Sunday several hundred people gathered in a large auditorium at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston. They were there to listen to Lanier’s weekly course on Bible literacy; it is the most popular Sunday school class at the 14,000-member church. The day’s tutorial was about the Book of Isaiah. At about 11 A.M. Lanier_dressed in a black shirt, black pants, and black shoes_bound-ed onto the stage. He attached a lapel microphone to his shirt and began to stride back and forth across the stage, rubbing his hands and smiling beatifically. He stopped abruptly and looked at the audience. “I am going to tell you about a vision today,” he said, “that can change your life, whether you’re old, young, blue, black, or green.” Lanier turned to the Bible’s account of the Prophet Isaiah’s first vision of God. Before the vision, Lanier suggested, Isaiah’s life was rudderless; but afterward, Isaiah found a voice and purpose in life. Many of us, Lanier said, are like the pre-vision Isaiah. “We are like rats running on a rat wheel. We are trying to get the wheel to go faster and faster, but we don’t know why,” he says, pawing at the air like a caged rat.
As Lanier talked, he used a Power Point presentation to flash key points onto a large screen. He spoke for an hour without any notes and sprinkled his lecture with jokes_ including one about an atheist being eaten by a bear_and pop cultural references to MTV and Prozac. If anything, Lanier appeared more like a motivational speaker than Sunday school teacher. The audience, which had already sat through an earlier church service, seemed to hang on his every word. Near the end of class, Lanier fixed on his main message: that Isaiah’s vision is an inspiration to us all. “If you are unhappy with your life, spend more time in the presence of God,” he bellowed. “Seek out God. Your life can be changed by the gift of God.” Exclamations of “yes” rang out.
After class, several students congregated around Lanier with questions. One student, a middle-aged black man, waited for the crowd to disperse before approaching Lanier. “I just want you to know that you have changed my life,” the student said in a faint Caribbean accent. “I’d love to talk to you more when you have time.” It was another example of Lanier’s persuasive powers, even if he would later admit that he hadn’t found the time to follow up on the encounter.
As Lanier maneuvered his green BMW sedan through a tangle of cars exiting the church, he mused about his good fortune. He has fulfilled two of his earliest career aspirations: preaching and lawyering. Politics is all that is left. Lanier paused for a minute to ponder the notion of candidate Lanier. He would only consider it, he said, if he could enter the public arena at a very high level_ the House of Representatives might not be high enough, he says. Lanier acknowledges that he is having too much fun at lawyering to seriously consider giving it up. Indeed, what is not to love? Lanier is a vivid example of the wonders of trial work_it is one of the very few professions (acting is another) where someone can become fabulously wealthy in a hurry, in large part on the force of his personality. Beyond experts and evidence, beyond legal precedents and pleadings, trials are still largely popularity contests_jurors often vote for who they like. It’s why so many corporations hate to step into a courtroom. And it’s why Lanier is turning so many heads.
E-mail: [email protected].
This article is reprinted with permission from the March 2004 edition of THE AMERICAN LAWYER. © 2004 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. For information, contact American Lawyer Media, Reprint Department at 800-888-8300 x6111. #001-03-04-0005
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