HR Management & Compliance

Double Billing: A Young Lawyer’s Tale of Greed, Sex, Lies, and the Pursuit of a Swivel Chair

Employment law attorney Michael Maslanka reviews the book Double Billing: A Young Lawyer’s Tale of Greed, Sex, Lies, and the Pursuit of a Swivel Chair by Cameron Stracher. Review recommends book because of its inside look into how employment litigation gets out of control.

Michael Maslanka reviews the book Double Billing

Double Billing: A Young Lawyer’s Tale Of Greed, Sex, Lies, And The Pursuit Of A Swivel Chair is a well-written and informative book about a young lawyer’s time at a large New York law firm. We highly recommend it.

One of the book’s passages talks about how litigation gets out of hand and ends up with an employer paying huge fees (win or lose) and an employee reliving the unpleasant experiences of being terminated, demoted, or harassed at a job. Here’s what Stracher says:

Each side is certain they could kick the other side’s butt in a court of law. [But] like any archetype, the ideal does not exist in its pure form . . . but the archetypes are important in the rhetorical struggle between plaintiff and defendant in a lawsuit. . . . Plaintiffs are almost inevitably characterized as “gold diggers,” out for the quick buck, while defendants obfuscate, tying up truth with words and paper. The rhetoric becomes a kind of narcotic. It numbs reality and directs the mind to fantastic heights, capable of believing the truth of any proposition, justice in any dingy corner.

Well said. Perhaps what’s needed to reduce the ever-spiraling cost of legal fees (and the time and emotion put into employment litigation) is not a change in the rules of pretrial fact-finding (more on this in the next issue) but a change in our views of one another. It may be hard to do, but as Justice Frankfurter once wrote in changing his mind on an issue, “Sometimes wisdom never comes, so it should not be rejected merely because it comes late.”

Michael Maslanka is the managing partner of Ford & Harrison LLP’s Dallas, Texas, office. He has 20 years of experience in litigation and trial of employment law cases and has served as Adjunct Counsel to a Fortune 10 company where he provided multi-state counseling on employment matters. He has also served as a Field Attorney for the National Labor Relations Board.

Mike is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as a “Texas Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthly and Law & Politics Magazine in 2003. He was also selected as one of the best lawyers in Dallas by “D” Magazine in 2003. Mike has served as the Chief Author and Editor of the Texas Employment Law Letter since 1990. He also authors the “Work Matters” column for Texas Lawyer.

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