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Shark Tales

Shark Tales

True (and Amazing) Stories from America's Lawyers

QUESTION: How many lawyers does it take to finish the roof of a two-thousand-square-foot house with dormers?
ANSWER: Depends on how thin you slice them.

Lawyers, and, more to the point, lawyer stories, have been sliced, diced, and presented for consumption for centuries. Ever since Dick the Butcher suggested in Shakespeare's Henry VI Part 2 that "the first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," the profession has exhibited a strong appeal for readers...to say nothing of an enduring image problem. Today, stories about life on the front lines of the nation's courtrooms fuel everything from the novels of John Grisham and Scott Turow to television shows like The Practice, Ally McBeal, and L.A. Law. Now in Shark Tales comes a remarkable collection of witty, eccentric, and astounding war stories -- guaranteed to be mostly true -- supplied by hundreds of attorneys and displaying the nitty-gritty of life in court.
To create Shark Tales, famed Washington lawyer Ron Liebman solicited stories from hundreds of colleagues in America and Britain...and not just any stories. He asked them to supply humor, of course, but also to describe the day on which they were proudest to be lawyers, and the day when they were most ashamed. He asked for stories of wild divorces and tragic losses. He asked them to describe the worst judges and best witnesses they'd ever encountered. He reviewed actual court transcripts, and found material like the following:
QUESTION: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
ANSWER: All my autopsies have been on dead people.

Here is the tale of a case settled not by a fingerprint left behind at the scene of the crime, but an entire finger. Here is a lawyer agreeing to defend a client accused of passing bad checks...a client who promptly bounced the retainer check. Here you'll meet a proud son, having won his first case, telling his father -- also a lawyer -- that "justice has triumphed," to which the father replied, "Appeal at once." And here is a senior partner in a Washington law firm meeting with a group of Japanese corporate clients with whom he seems compelled to reminisce about the first time he saw Tokyo: as a bomber pilot in 1945.
Funny, revealing, sad, poignant, and even exciting, Shark Tales is a hugely entertaining book for legal junkies -- authentic slices of life that reveal what really makes the law everyone's obsession.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743211130 | 
  • February 2001
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Sex, Sex, and More Sex

There was this guy in my law school class. Although I can't remember his name (I think it was Bob something or other), I can still picture the two of us walking down the street near the law school one autumn day during lunch break. This was the late sixties, so I suppose we were wearing bell-bottoms and sixties hair. I do remember that Bob sported a handlebar mustache. Anyway, Bob was complaining. Not about the rigors of law school: the endless days of classes, the mountains of cases and statutes to read, the never-ending demands of our professors. No, Bob was focused on none of that. Bob was... see more

About the Author

Ron Liebman
Photo Credit: Ralph Alswang

Ron Liebman

Ron Liebman spent two decades at the Washington, D.C. office of one of America's top law firms. He specialized in litigation, both domestic and international. He is the author of Death by RodrigoGrand Jury and Shark Tales. He is married to the artist Simma Liebman. Their two daughters live and work in New York.

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