March 2, 2008
Michael Clayton Finds His Ethics, as General Counsel Loses Hers
Posted by Alan Childress
After re-watching Michael Clayton yesterday, I realized that one could read its ethical barometer as saying that the outside Biglaw firm lawyers just want to do good, if only if it were not for the evil though angst-ridden General Counsel. I promised Jeff Lipshaw today that I would note here that there are some remarkable similarities between the movie and Jeff's pre-professor career (with no parallels between his looks and Clooney's, or for that matter Tilda Swinton's). He was, inter alia, General Counsel and VP at Great Lakes Chemical Company, which has a name as generic (and thus fake-sounding per Hollywood) as does U/North Agricultural. He insists, and I tend to believe him, that he never hired a hitman (or even the politically correct hitperson) to knock off a senior partner of an outside-counsel NYC law firm.
Good to know.
Update: Here is Columbia's Michael Dorf on the movie, also posted this weekend. Dorf says the movie is 'unfair to lawyers' in part because the ethical dilemma that the senior partner had is a false one, readily resolved under current ethics and discovery rules. There is a nice exchange in the comments.
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