David Boies: Legendary Litigator

You’ve got to be an extremely capable and brave lawyer to leave a firm like Cravanth and start you own successful practice.  And you have to be incredibly famous to be included in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, even for a lawyer.

Variously described as “a brilliant trial lawyer,” a “latter day Clarence Darrow” and even a “mad genius” this month we take a closer look at the legendary legal career (which is still going) of David Boies.

Legal Education

Boies attended undergraduate at the University of Redlands and went on to graduate magna cum laude from Yale Law School in 1966.  Upon graduation, he began working for Cravath, Swaine & Moore where he became partner by 1973.

Boies left Cravath in 1997 when a major client objected to his representation of the New York Yankees in a suite against Major League Baseball.  Though there was no quarrel with his firm, Boies departed and started his own practice.

Boies has also been awarded numerous honorary degrees such as an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from University of Redlands, New York Law School, and New York University to name only a few.

Major Trials

While Boies has represented clients in numerous high profile cases, he is known for two major trials: Bush v. Gore and the United States vs. Microsoft.

Boies represented the Justice Department in United States vs. Microsoft.

The Washington Post has an excerpt of the trial which shows the evasiveness of Microsoft executives, and the thoroughness with which Boies posed, and re-posed his questions:

Q: BY MR. BOIES: I’m not now talking about what you do in competition with other products or other companies. What I’m talking about is whether or not you’ve had discussions with people within Microsoft in which you talked about the need to undermine Sun, using those words, if that will help you, within Microsoft?

A: I don’t remember using those words.

Q: You don’t?

A: No.

Q: Do you think you did use those words or you just don’t know one way or the other?

A: I don’t know.

Q: Would it be consistent with the way you felt about Java for you to have told people that you wanted to undermine Sun?

A: As I’ve said, anything about Java you’ve got to show me a context before I can answer because just the term Java itself can mean different things.

In general, Bill Gates was reported as being evasive, disputing definitions of words like “compete,” “concerned,” “ask,” and “we.”

Bill Gates famously stated that Boies was “out to destroy Microsoft.”

Arthur Miller, a litigation specialist at Harvard Law School of Law, notes that Boies is the type of lawyer that doesn’t use overblown rhetoric, but brings his opponents down with “a thousand paper cuts.”

3 Other Notable Trials

From 1991-1993 Boies was lead counsel to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, recovering $1.2 billion from companies who sold junk bonds to failed savings and loan associations.

Boies assisted top litigator Thomas D. Barr in defending IBM during the 13-year antitrust cases brought by the Justice Department along with numerous private competitors.

Boies teamed up with former rival attorney Theodore Olson in Perry v. Schwarzenegger seeking to overturn the state of California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage.