The Hippo

HOME| ADVERTISING| CONTACT US|

 
Dec 19, 2018







NEWS & FEATURES

POLITICAL

FOOD & DRINK

ARTS

MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE

POP CULTURE



BEST OF
CLASSIFIEDS
ADVERTISING
CONTACT US
PAST ISSUES
ABOUT US
MOBILE UPDATES
LIST MY CALENDAR ITEM


A photo illustration created by Tristan Collins of Bill Shaheen (left) and Steven Gordon (right), who were photographed in front of their Concord office on May 3 and May 7, respectively. Photos by Gil Talbot, giltalbot.com.




 How “Billy” met “Jeannie”

What follows is Bill Shaheen’s version of how he and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen first met and got married. The Shaheens have been married 48 years and have three daughters and seven grandchildren.
It’s the summer of ’69 and Bill Shaheen has just returned home from his tour of duty in Germany at the beginning of the year. After saving some money working as a laborer in the labor union, he started a retail business with his brother-in-law at York Beach in Maine.
It’s May and he’s up a ladder scraping paint off the wall of his store, wearing a large sombrero with red pom-poms on the fringe, when a young woman walks in asking where she can find an apron. 
Shaheen thinks she’s pretty the moment he lays eyes on her and says he’ll help her as long as he can get her name and phone number. 
The 22-year-old woman, Jeanne Bowers, tells him to “drop dead.”
She’s just finished college in Pennsylvania and is starting a job at a professor’s friend’s lobster pound in Cape Neddick, Maine, which is why, on this fateful day, she is in need of an apron. 
Shaheen helps her despite his failed attempt to trade the information. And he doesn’t see her again until July.
There’s a party at the lobster pound coming up and Shaheen needs a ride. It just so happens that the young woman he remembers as the “apron girl” returns to the store. 
He’s only got a jalopy of a truck with a footstool for a passenger seat, so he asks her if she will give him a ride to the party. She relents under one condition: Be ready to go.
When Shaheen gets in the car, he announces he has just one stop to make first. Shaheen is certain he’s testing the limits of her patience, but he is undeterred.
He directs her to his family’s summer beach house so that he can take a quick shower. It’s the weekend and the house is bustling with the entire extended family, as is often the case on the weekends. So, while Shaheen showers, his mother takes it upon herself to introduce young “Jeannie” to the entire family as “Billy’s new girlfriend.” 
Now, Jeanne is not happy, because she is in fact already involved with a college boyfriend, who happens to be coming to work at the lobster pound with her in two weeks.
Shaheen realizes he has two weeks to win her over, so he hatches a plan. He sees her constantly, taking her out for lunch and for dinner, pursuing her relentlessly.
Just before the boyfriend’s arrival, Shaheen proposes that the men split their time seeing Jeanne. She finds this reasonable. The boyfriend, after driving from Pennsylvania for nearly a day in a heat wave without air conditioning, does not find it reasonable and turns right back around and heads home.
Five or six weeks later, Bill and Jeanne elope. 
To this day, Bill Shaheen said, marrying him was probably the most impetuous thing Jeanne ever did.
How “Billy” met “Jeannie”
What follows is Bill Shaheen’s version of how he and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen first met and got married. The Shaheens have been married 48 years and have three daughters and seven grandchildren.
It’s the summer of ’69 and Bill Shaheen has just returned home from his tour of duty in Germany at the beginning of the year. After saving some money working as a laborer in the labor union, he started a retail business with his brother-in-law at York Beach in Maine.
It’s May and he’s up a ladder scraping paint off the wall of his store, wearing a large sombrero with red pom-poms on the fringe, when a young woman walks in asking where she can find an apron. 
Shaheen thinks she’s pretty the moment he lays eyes on her and says he’ll help her as long as he can get her name and phone number. 
The 22-year-old woman, Jeanne Bowers, tells him to “drop dead.”
She’s just finished college in Pennsylvania and is starting a job at a professor’s friend’s lobster pound in Cape Neddick, Maine, which is why, on this fateful day, she is in need of an apron. 
Shaheen helps her despite his failed attempt to trade the information. And he doesn’t see her again until July.
There’s a party at the lobster pound coming up and Shaheen needs a ride. It just so happens that the young woman he remembers as the “apron girl” returns to the store. 
He’s only got a jalopy of a truck with a footstool for a passenger seat, so he asks her if she will give him a ride to the party. She relents under one condition: Be ready to go.
When Shaheen gets in the car, he announces he has just one stop to make first. Shaheen is certain he’s testing the limits of her patience, but he is undeterred.
He directs her to his family’s summer beach house so that he can take a quick shower. It’s the weekend and the house is bustling with the entire extended family, as is often the case on the weekends. So, while Shaheen showers, his mother takes it upon herself to introduce young “Jeannie” to the entire family as “Billy’s new girlfriend.” 
Now, Jeanne is not happy, because she is in fact already involved with a college boyfriend, who happens to be coming to work at the lobster pound with her in two weeks.
Shaheen realizes he has two weeks to win her over, so he hatches a plan. He sees her constantly, taking her out for lunch and for dinner, pursuing her relentlessly.
Just before the boyfriend’s arrival, Shaheen proposes that the men split their time seeing Jeanne. She finds this reasonable. The boyfriend, after driving from Pennsylvania for nearly a day in a heat wave without air conditioning, does not find it reasonable and turns right back around and heads home.
Five or six weeks later, Bill and Jeanne elope. 
To this day, Bill Shaheen said, marrying him was probably the most impetuous thing Jeanne ever did.
 
The next generation: Meet Michael Noonan
Ten years ago, Bill Shaheen passed the mantle of managing partner to Michael Noonan, a lawyer who had been with the firm since 1990, right after graduating from law school. 
As Shaheen recalls, Noonan came to the firm for an interview in a suit and tie to find Shaheen and other partners in jeans, doing renovation work on their offices.
Noonan asked the tmen where he could find the partners and when he learned the men in jeans were the partners he said, “I guess I came overdressed.” 
Shaheen liked his sense of humor.
“I was hired as a young general research and writing associate,” Noonan said.
Noonan soon became one of the firm’s most valuable lawyers and a partner.
“He’s like a younger brother to Steven and I,” Shaheen said.
Steve Gordon said Noonan brought order to his and Shaheen’s chaos. 
He would create budgets and spreadsheets where Shaheen and Gordon would often fly by the seat of their pants and expect everything to work out.
Gordon said, like Shaheen, Noonan had a particular knack for personal injury cases.
About 10 years ago, Shaheen said, Noonan was curious to look at what Shaheen was doing when it came to managing the firm. Shaheen offered him to just start managing it. 
“I think I just came at the right time, and as the firm grew, I grew with it,” Noonan said.
Noonan said he loves the “puzzle-making of a business.” He’s detail-oriented, when most lawyers prefer to look at the big picture.
When Shaheen and Gordon retire, Noonan will remain to lead the firm. But he believes the spirit of freedom and flexibility, and of representing the little guy over big institutional clients, will remain after they’re gone.  
 
 




When Gordon met Shaheen
A look back with the duo whose law firm sued the FBI, helped lottery winners keep their privacy and just won one of the largest defamation cases ever

05/10/18



 By Ryan Lessard

news@hippopress.com
 
Steve Gordon  
Steve Gordon first came to New Hampshire by way of Boston to clerk for a federal judge. After working as legal counsel for a U.S. senator in Washington, D.C., and not enjoying it, he applied to be a trial lawyer in the U.S. Attorney’s office, where a newly appointed Bill Shaheen was trying to hire his team. It was 1977, and Gordon said he did an interview with Bill just before taking off to hitchhike across the country.
 
Had you not met Bill before that?
I had not met him at all. And I had heard about him because he was Jimmy Carter’s campaign manager in New Hampshire. … Bill decided to extend me an offer and I took it.
 
What were the kinds of cases you were mostly working on then?
Well, I started out my first trial, which I still remember was removing of a rock in a … national forest, which I was quite proud of because I won it. That case involved, actually — I’m not kidding — it was a barrier rock that they put along a fire road so people wouldn’t drive up it. And a couple people from Massachusetts decided that they didn’t want to be stopped from driving up this road, so they took their car and they towed the rocks out of the way. That was my first prosecution as a federal prosecutor, but they went up in scope after that. … We had a three-month tax evasion case, we had a Medicaid, Medicare fraud case, bank robbery cases, complex fraud cases. When we got to the U.S. Attorney’s office, there was a … backlog of cases that were just not previously prosecuted. So, when we got there, there was this waiting line of agents who wanted to try cases and … it was myself, Bill Shaheen, Bob Lynn, who’s now the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and another attorney, Bob Kennedy. And for three and a half or four years we just tried cases. … I think I did maybe two or three drug cases and probably did far more in excess of that on what I would call traditional white-collar crime cases.
 
What did you do after you left the U.S. Attorney’s office?
I started the law firm. It was four of us. It was Bill Shaheen and Dan Cappiello who were in Dover. And I started a small little office with Bob Stein here in Concord, New Hampshire. So, the first iteration of the firm was Shaheen Cappiello Stein & Gordon. 
 
Who had the idea to do that?
I would say that we all had the idea. I enjoyed trying cases. I wasn’t sure how I would fit in in some other firm cultures and was used to being my own spirit. 
 
What were some of the things in the other firms’ cultures that you were chafing against?
When I was looking at some firms, there was — from my perspective, it may not be true but — there was an established culture of, I would just say a somewhat more rigid one than I would like to have. I never got dressed up to go to work. I never felt the need to wear ties or join associations or attend golf events and try to market that way.
 
Before you started the firm with those guys, how had your relationship developed with Bill specifically, when you were still in the U.S. Attorney’s office. Were there moments when you got to know each other better maybe out of the office or in the office working on cases? 
Well, there’s something about trying cases. It’s almost like a bunker mentality, I’ll call it. We tried some difficult, high-profile cases that we were criticized about and you get to know somebody and appreciate their character and their intellect, but mostly their sense of loyalty, team play, camaraderie, good judgment. And with Billy and Bob Lynn, who’s now on the Supreme Court, we really forged a really strong, good relationship with each other where we … trusted each other.
 
I’m picturing late nights with Chinese food, spitballing, going through records. Can you paint a picture for me of some of those ‘bunker’ moments?
I can give you a couple of them. Never Chinese food. It was kind of my modus operandi that I would never eat until I stopped working. … One case stands out. ...[A] highly regarded, respected lawyer from a highly regarded, respected family … was working in the prison and there were allegations. There were a series of bank robberies in New Hampshire, creative bank robberies, where motorcycles were used, kayaks were used, bicycles were used. There were about three of these robberies and there was focus on who were the bank robbers. … And there started to be rumors that [the lawyer] was laundering the money from these bank robberies and he was working with these bank robbers to launder the money. Now, that sounds pretty preposterous, right? … We indicted him and we went to trial, Bill and I. We got a lot of publicity and were accused of being reckless and inexperienced and we just tried the case as hard as we could and we ended up prevailing. He was convicted. Sad case, but I remember late hours and I remember Billy taking the slings and the arrows and just shaking them off and saying, ‘Let’s go back to work.’
 
And that’s when you began developing that mutual respect?
Yup. And then we had one of the first … Medicare prosecutions in the nation. It was actually our first case that we tried together. This was a case that was declined by the former U.S. Attorney and the agent came to Billy and I and said, ‘We’d like you to review it.’ We reviewed it and then Billy and I tried it. It was about a three-week trial. Billy did the closing argument, I remember, and he was just fun to work with. He told the jury, I remember it now today, that he told them the case was going to end on a Thursday, because we thought it was going to be a short case. But it ended up being a very long case. And he said, ‘But I never told you which week or which month.’ … We also did some really wonderful things at the U.S. Attorney’s office. We brought suit against the Laconia State School to shut the Laconia State School down. … That was for developmentally disabled [people]. It was turned into a warehouse that would just warehouse people. And we brought a civil rights action and we worked on that case.
 
Can you describe the early offices of your firm when it first started? I assume these aren’t the same offices you’re in now.
They are not. Mine was at 21 Green St. [in Concord]. It was a very small reception area. My office could barely fit a desk. And Bob [Stein] had his office and a very small conference room. That was it.
 
So, what was the plan? You said you didn’t do any of that sort of country club glad-handing and stuff like that. So, what was your plan to drum up business?
I wish I could say I had a plan. The plan was work hard, take almost anything that would come to you and see what happens. That basically was the plan. No business plan, no nothing.
 
So, with the separate offices, has the dynamic always been sort of like separate but together? Like you have this satellite orbit going on?
At the beginning we each kind of did our own cases.  … Billy had a gift for [personal injury] cases, and Michael [Noonan], so some of those started getting moved over to Dover. But in some ways at the beginning they were standalone offices. But there was shared experiences and we’d talk a lot and we probably got together a lot more, just sitting around socializing a bit. Because we were friends practicing law. 
 
What was the moment things really started to pick up for the firm? I’m sure it was a gradual process over the decades, but was there maybe a big case or a couple big cases that came along at some point that was a turning point?
I started doing some federal criminal defense work. And I tried a case in Boston, and it was one of my first [times] defending a case. And it was in the federal court in Boston, which was a grown-up court, as we say. And I got 286 not-guilties in one of my first trials. And that started leading to people … referring me cases. … It was a case that involved allegations of bank fraud. There were about four defendants in the case and my client was the sole one who was acquitted on all charges. … And that started leading to more case work for me, so I started doing far more federal criminal work. … [This was] ’80s into ’90s.
 
How did that feel? It must have been weird going from being a former federal prosecutor to defending federal criminal cases.
It didn’t feel weird at all. Being a prosecutor felt weird. Because I was the man. I was representing the power, I was representing the state, the government. That was weird. Defending was not weird at all. That was much more suited to my personality. 
 
Which, I’m gathering, for someone who went hitchhiking in the ’70s, is someone who was a bit more of a free spirit?
Or at least trying to be. [Laughs]. It’s not for me to say how free a spirit I was but, yeah. 
 
So this felt more natural and this was a turning point for you. Was it the same for the rest of the firm? Did Bill have his own turning point?
You’d have to ask Billy because Billy’s life was so imbued with politics too. 
 
And you kept kind of clear of that, for the most part?
I did legal stuff. Like, I had had an interest in voting rights. When I started in the firm I was legal counsel to the ACLU in New Hampshire, doing work for the ACLU in New Hampshire. So, I did it more legally. Billy, he could go talk to four Rotaries in four different parts of the state in one day and think that that was a perfect way to spend his day. I would shoot myself doing that. So, he had his niche. 
 
[During the 1990s, some of the firm’s founding partners parted ways but Shaheen and Gordon stayed together to continue the firm in its current iteration. According to Gordon and Shaheen, this was due to a disagreement over the kinds of cases they would focus on and the size of the firm. At the time, Shaheen said Gordon was single-handedly representing Honda of America across the country, but other partners weren’t interested in helping with that. Shaheen said it brought in millions of dollars in business for the firm.]
 
Were there other major developments for the firm after things starting ramping up?
Well, we had a split of the firm in 1996 where we stopped being Shaheen Cappiello Stein & Gordon. Andy Volinsky worked with us for a while and, in ’96, for a variety of reasons we decided, Billy and I and Andy and Bob decided that they would—that we should just split. And so Andy and Bob stayed at their office and Billy and I started up Shaheen & Gordon. We took some of the lawyers with us and some of the lawyers stayed with Bob and Andy, but the Concord office kind of split.
 
What was behind that? What happened?
I would say personalities and visions of growth … and I was doing a lot of work for American Honda at that time and representing them all over the country. And I just think that there were different visions, so we just decided to each pursue our own vision. 
 
Was it a bitter breakup or was it amicable?
At the time, it had a tad of bitterness to it, never to the point of litigation. And now, we’ve all now remained good friends. In fact, Andy is a very close friend of mine. But it had its moments.
 
[Last year, Gordon won the largest personal injury settlement in New Hampshire history, $274.5 million in damages, in a lawsuit against mortgage broker Michael Gill. Gordon represented three businessmen, Andy Crews, Dick Anagnost and Bill Greiner, who sued Gill for defamation because Gill used his large digital billboards and social media to make slanderous allegations against the businessmen. Gill is now missing.]
 
Lately, you guys have been in the news for a number of high-profile cases, not least of which is a record-setting settlement you were able to get in the Michael Gill case. Can you talk about how things are today? Looking back, does it seem like ‘How did we get here?’
Well, isn’t that the David Byrne line where he says, ‘How did I get here?’ I think that there is that sense of ‘How did I get there, how did we get here?’ There was one case that is worth mentioning because I think it was a high water mark for the firm and me as well. And that was our case against the FBI and Whitey Bulger. Or, principally, the FBI. That was the first time the FBI has ever been held liable for a murder. And that was bare-knuckled litigation. The Department of Justice fought us every which way. They engaged in bad faith in how they defended. Attorney’s fees were awarded against them and it was myself and Bill Christie who tried the case. We didn’t have a big team here, we didn’t have a fancy database, we just slogged through it, and getting the FBI found to be … civilly responsible was, I thought was going to be the high water mark of my career, until Michael Gill came along. … It was in the 2000s.
 
You said you think the Michael Gill case is an even higher water mark. Is that just because of the dollar amount?
Part of our culture is the use of social media to defame, to injure, cause harm to people’s reputations because words don’t matter in the currency of today, particularly on the internet. And it’s my hope that part of our litigation will have an impact, that if people defame others and use social media in order to do that, bullying or otherwise, that there’s a consequence that comes with it. And you’re actually seeing it politically with Trump. He tweets these statements that I’m reasonably confident that people are going to start suing him and he’ll be held accountable for his words and I hope that there are a lot of people out there, capable, strong, good lawyers, who will just take him to task for his abusive practices. And Gill was part of that sewage flow that’s occurring in our country. … And if you ask Dick Anagnost, when Dick came to me, a lot of lawyers said to Dick before we were hired, ‘Don’t fight him. You lay down with a dog, you get fleas. You go after a skunk, you stink.’ You know, all those adages. And when Dick came to me, and said what do you think, I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ Because, if you don’t do it, the bully wins.
 
Were you confident that you were going to win from the beginning?
I hate to say so, but yes.
 
Why would you hate to say that?
Because I think that anybody who is confident when they start out a case is a fool. And humility is probably the best character trait of a trial lawyer. So I’m generally not confident about cases. I work hard. But I was fairly confident about that one.
 
Why is that? 
I met Andy Crews, I knew Dick Anagnost, I met Bill Greiner. And when I met Andy Crews, he told me about his background and why he was doing the litigation, and I was ready to salute the flag after he got through telling me why he was willing to do the case. So I felt reasonably confident that we would get there. … Because Andy said, ‘These are all lies and if I don’t do this case — I’m somebody who has been blessed in life, I have a good family, I have money — and if I don’t fight him, who is going to fight him?’ 
 
So, do you think this sets an important precedent for future cases, maybe related to social media?
I think it will. How much, I don’t know. But it was the sixth-largest verdict in the country last year. And it’s got a lot of press arising just from the size of the verdict.
 
How does it balance First Amendment rights? I’m guessing that was their main defense, right?
Right. Speak the truth. If you speak the truth or you express your opinions and you do so in a deliberate fashion, then the First Amendment is alive and well. If you tell lies about people and you say that they’re drug dealers, they’re killing children, they’re selling machine guns, they’re laundering money from drug proceeds — you say those things, there’s a consequence. 
 
What do you think is ahead for you and the firm in the years to come?
I hope I live a long healthy life. I celebrate my grandchildren. ... I take every day as a day and try not to get too far in front of myself. 
 
You plan on retiring anytime soon?
I kind of struggle with that. It’s kind of like a work in progress. I don’t know what retirement actually means. Does it mean never coming into the office, coming into the office just a little bit, working on cases that I like and I’m interested in? So I’m trying to figure that out actually at this precise time.
 
Bill Shaheen
When I walk into his office in Dover, Bill Shaheen, known by friends and family as ‘Billy,’ is looking out the window. ‘I’m getting nostalgic,’ he said. Just a block away, the brick building at 10 Locust St., where his first law firm was located, is in the process of getting demolished. That’s where he was when he was thrust into the spotlight for the first time.
Born and raised in a large Lebanese family in Dover, Shaheen worked a wide variety of ‘dirty jobs,’ including a summer at a wastewater treatment plant. After getting his bachelor’s at UNH, he served in the Army as a captain and returned home to meet the young woman who would become his wife soon after — and later make history as the first woman in the United States to be both a governor and a U.S. Senator.
Years before Shaheen founded Shaheen & Gordon with Steve Gordon, he was already getting involved in politics. Motivated by the Watergate scandal, he met Jimmy Carter and became his state campaign chairman in 1975. He graduated from law school at the University of Mississippi just two years before that. Through his connection to Carter, he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the state. 
 
I’d like to talk a bit about your origin story. You mentioned the 10 Locust St. location. You want to start there?
When I graduated from law school, this guy, this old retired judge who had the office over here on the corner I just showed you, on Locust Street, he ended up giving me a job. And I worked for him for two or three years and then an older lawyer had died and his younger partner asked me to join him, so I had joined him. The name of the firm was Keefe, Dunnington & Shaheen. Keefe is the guy who died. … We went out and borrowed a whole bunch of money to refurbish the law firm. The law firm was just shooting up like a rocket because of my connections with Carter. I was on the federal judicial selection board, I was on the White House scholarship board. It was wonderful, everything was coming in. And then, to make a long story short, I applied for the U.S. Attorney’s job and then I withdrew from it … because the Senator, Tom McIntyre, had wanted somebody else, and Carter wanted me to have it. And I didn’t want to embarrass the Senator because it was an election year. … The weekend before [the appointee] was supposed to be sworn in, he was stopped for DWI and McIntyre called me up the next morning, Saturday morning, and said, ... ‘I want you to take this job.’ But [I said], ‘I don’t want the job. I just borrowed 50,000 bucks to renovate my law firm. I’m happy.’ ‘No, no, no. … You’re the only one who’s passed the FBI background stuff and I got to get this off my plate.’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m gonna have to think about it.’ Then he called my father up and my father came over and told me what I was going to do, because that’s how it is in a large Lebanese family. Your family tells you what to do and you do it. So I got another friend to take my place in my law firm and I went over to be U.S. Attorney. … It didn’t interest me, because no one knew what the U.S. Attorney did, because the U.S. Attorney didn’t do anything. At least, not that I saw. But we changed that. Steven and I changed that. So, I get sworn in to be the U.S. Attorney and all the assistants at the time, traditionally back then all of the assistants resigned. … So, when I got there everyone was gone, all the lawyers were gone. They had four, I think, maybe, at the time. I offered them [a chance to stay] because it was a really good job. They paid big money. I mean, top money in the state. And I said, I’m gonna be a different U.S. Attorney. I’m not gonna be … political. … We’re not Democrats or Republicans, we’re Americans.
 
Did they take you up on your offer?
Nope. They all said, ‘Thank you very much, we appreciate it. But we’ve already made other arrangements.’ So I’ve got to fill the … lawyer staff. … So I went about doing it and selecting people, and Steve Gordon had written me a letter asking to be considered. And I did some research on him. I probably had about 100 to 125 applications for four jobs. I asked some people, because I didn’t have a whole lot of trial experience at the time — if you can imagine it’s ’73 and I was a brand new lawyer when I got out of law school, and this is ’77. … I wanted people who were like-minded. Not like-minded politically, because I liked the diversity, I liked the challenge. In fact, one of the assistant U.S. Attorneys we ended up hiring, that I hired, was Bob Lynn, who just got appointed the chief justice of the Supreme Court. And he was a Phil Crane right-wing Republican supporter. And he wanted to know why I picked him. I said this is America’s U.S. Attorneys, not the Democrats and Republicans. We’re here to do justice and I think you’re a hell of a trial lawyer, from what I can read. And I love the story. I loved the fact that he was raised by a single mother. And I figure if I can put him and Gordon in the same room together, they can come out united, [then] I had a pretty good team, I had great balance. We were at [Bob Lynn’s] swearing in last week and he commented on how I got him out of Connecticut to come here and work as the assistant U.S. Attorney, and thanked me for that. Because he wouldn’t have come to New Hampshire otherwise.
 
This was 1977? How old were you?
I was the youngest U.S. Attorney in the nation. I was 33. And we built an impeccable record. We increased our caseload by 500 percent, we didn’t lose a single trial, major trial. We lost an ancillary one, a felon in possession of a firearm. But that wasn’t the main case, which was all drugs. Never lost a case the whole four years we were there. … Back then, they called us the mad dogs.
 
What did you do after leaving the U.S. Attorney position?
We really were a family and I welcomed every one of them to join in my new law firm. I was going to open a new law firm. I still couldn’t work for somebody else. 
 
So, how did you start Shaheen & Gordon?
Steven and I became more than just associates at the U.S. Attorney’s office. We became brothers. We did a lot of things together. We’d go canoeing and portaging throughout Canada, we went on sailing trips where we sailed our own boat. We really became close. … I tell people, and I really mean this, God didn’t give me a brother but he gave me Steven, which is better than a brother. And he feels the same way about me. There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for each other. It’s been that way since 1977. It’s still that way today. We’ve never had a disagreement. Sometimes I’ll say he’s the longest partner ever, with the exception of my wife. … But the only difference between my wife and Steven is we never argue. I always see the best in him and he always trusts the best in me, and we’ve just never had a harsh word. I’ve been with him when his mother died, when his kids were born. And he’s been there for me in reverse. … And we wanted to build a law firm that represented our values. So we never carried any debt. We do now, but back then it was you pay your staff first, pay your bills second and whatever’s left you get. Sometimes it was nothing and a lot of times it was a lot. And we kept adding lawyers and lawyers and offices and offices and now we’re at the stage in our lives — I’m 74, Steven is pretty close to 70 — where it’s now the time to turn the reins over. 
 
Would you say you and Steve and the business you got from Honda created the foundation of what was to come? 
Yeah. Well, … what kept us together was Steven and I, what keeps us together now is Steven and I. When you’re not working with someone every day, you don’t know if there is a bond there or not. … But the bond that Steven and I created at the U.S. Attorney’s office is the one that cemented everything. He just has to ask and it’s done. I don’t question it, I don’t kick the tires on it. I would do anything to protect him. … It’s not like a typical law firm. … We’re really like twins, in a sense. We both want to do the right thing all the time. And it doesn’t matter where it takes us. It doesn’t matter if we’re shunned, it doesn’t matter if we’re glorified and praised. It doesn’t matter. It only matters that we do the right thing every time. 
 
Aside from your foundational friendship, to what do you attribute the success of the firm?
I think it is the love of the law. … And wanting to make this a better place. It’s the law and politics together. They go hand in hand. The desire to march toward a better union, a more perfect union, and that’s in everything we do, whether it’s politics, whether it’s law, whether it’s business. Everything we do is always to make it better, and instill in the younger lawyers that work for us that same mantra. … Money always comes, it seems it always comes our way. But we don’t do it for money. In a very small example, occasionally someone will come in to [see] me, put $15,000 across the table and say, ‘I want you to be my lawyer and I want to take this person over the coals.’ And I’d take the money and give it back to them and say, ‘You got the wrong lawyer. You gotta find somebody else because that’s not me.’ … So, we’ve refused clients. It’s not about money.
 
You mention the role of politics and how it’s all part of the same mission. You were more involved in politics than Steve was.
Yes.
 
Did those connections help out with the firm’s growth?
I’m not sure. It kind of hurt it, because we had a really good shot at getting the tobacco case but because Jeannie was governor at the time we couldn’t do it. So we lost millions of dollars on that deal. … I don’t think politics helped out. The name of the firm, yeah. But, no. … I don’t think politics has helped us financially.
 
Speaking of money, how did you guys end up running the trusts for both the recent lottery winners?
Well, the first one, they weren’t clients of mine. They had won the ticket and they sat on it for a month. And when they engaged me and asked us to represent them, we always ask people, ‘Why did you come here, to this firm?’ And the reply was that, ‘We’ve spent the last 30 days researching law firms and lawyers and you’re the one. We want you to represent us.’ And because we were so successful at achieving anonymity for the first one, I think that was why the second one [came to us]. Because they realized that we had a special skill set and system to preserve anonymity and they wanted anonymity too. So that’s how we got the second one. Now … we have a track record, we know all this stuff, we know who to call, who not to call, what you can do, what you can’t do, the way you should do it, the taxes you should pay. … We build Chinese walls around people so that no one else knows who they are even inside the law firm. No one in this law firm knows who they are. Just me and one other person. Not even Steven. … He knows who the second people are; he doesn’t know who the first people are.
 
How do those deals usually work for the firm?
We bill by the hour, normally. And if they want us to do something beyond that, if they want us to take a trustee role, that’s outside the law firm, because there’s no law involved. You’re the trustee, you’re handling their money. It’s not a legal issue, that’s a financial issue.
Are you the trustee for those?
I am for the second one. I’m not for the first one anymore. You get up to a certain stage and they want to take it someplace else and you let them go. 
 
What is the bulk of the caseload these days?
Steven likes to do cutting-edge stuff … like we did with the anonymity part of the second Powerball. He loves that stuff. The juices start to flow in him. Anything that’s unique, Steven loves doing. And he’s fearless. I’m sure he told you about the McIntyre case, with the FBI. … You think about that, the significance of that. It took us 10 years to do it. And we were just relentless, like mad dogs. We just would not let go of that bone. It was him and Bill Christie. It wasn’t me. But it makes you proud when you’re a part of it. … The Mike Gill case, the other one. He loves that stuff. 
 
What about you? What were your favorite types of cases?
I like it when I’m going against all odds. I like it when I’m down and no one thinks I can win and then I win the case. I love that stuff. That stuff means a lot to me. It could be a personal injury case, where nobody thinks I’ll be able to do anything, then I get a great verdict. Or I make a difference in someone’s life. That’s the other thing. I used to do a lot of marital [cases]. I like changing people’s lives. I like getting close and making their life different because of me. That’s what I like doing.
 
These interviews were edited and condensed. 





®2018 Hippo Press. site by wedu