Vol. 77, No. 4, April
Corporate Ethics: The Business Code of Conduct for
By Steven R. Barth (Boston, MA: Aspatore Publishing,
2003). 153 pgs. $17.95. Order.
Reviewed by Donna M. Jones
Steven R. Barth begins and ends Corporate Ethics on an
appropriately unsettling note: Enron. Barth, a transactional and
securities attorney, begins by stating that publicly traded companies
are now legally required to adopt and implement corporate codes of
conduct, as a result of recent dramatic and far-reaching corporate
collapses like Enron. He ends by placing the 30-page "Enron Code of
Ethics July 2000" in the appendix. In between, he emphasizes that proper
adoption, implementation, and enforcement are critical to the
effectiveness of a company's code. "If your company does not live your
code, it won't be effective." "Look no further than Enron for an
example. Enron had a wonderful written code of conduct."
Businesses should remember that point as they consider using this
valuable handbook. When developing a code of conduct that adapts to its
culture, a business can choose from three general types: rules-based,
principal-based, or comprehensive codes. Corporate Ethics
provides specific guidance for developing codes of conduct covering
ethical treatment of customers, suppliers, the company, competitors,
employees, and the community. Specific corporate obligations also are
covered regarding confidentiality, complying with the law, maintaining a
company's financial integrity, political activities, and international
business ethical considerations.
Barth shares considerable business law expertise in an excellent,
straightforward manner, while emphasizing several points. First, it is
good business to operate ethically, as reflected in the results of two
cited studies. A 1992 Harvard study of 207 large U.S. firms concluded
that firms with an "ethic focus" had greater increases in revenue,
workforce, stock prices, and net income. A 2002 McKinsey Investor Survey
found post-Enron that a majority of "investment fund managers avoid
poorly governed companies" and "that they buy or sell a company's stock
based on their corporate governance practices." Second, corporations may
be subject to civil and criminal penalties for unethical conduct. In the
case of insider trading or tipping, for example, penalties can include
"up to three times the profit gained or loss avoided, and imprisonment."
Third, an effective code enhances a corporation's values, image,
reputation, honesty, morale, and communications. Finally, an effectively
implemented code prevents employees' illegal or unethical activities or
reduces corporate liability when such activities occur. It's simply
smart business. That's the bottom line.
A Jury of One's Own
By Dan Bell (Edgewater, FL: Denlinger's Publishers Ltd.,
2003). 191 pgs. $11.95 paperback, $6.95 electronic (plus S&H).
Reviewed by Thomas P. Solheim
Trial lawyers, like surgeons, are sometimes required to act so
audaciously that they cannot be expected to have the usually expected
sense of human fallibility and humility. As one seasons, such
occupational traits become more embedded in a person's character. Gant,
the main character of A Jury of One's Own, exemplifies these
phenomena. He is a seasoned lawyer, practicing criminal law and other
trial specialties in a small firm in Madison, but he has flaws.
Dan Bell's tale humorously recounts Gant's work on a trial for a
motorcycle gang member accused of homicide, his stormy relationship with
his law partners, and his journey into the past to attend a high school
reunion in North Carolina. The journey recapitulates the author's
migration from our law school days at the University of Wisconsin,
through his early practice with Jack McManus and others in Madison, on
to the Cape Fear area of North Carolina. Bell now practices law, writes,
and sails his 34-footer, Irish Eyes, out of Kure Beach, N.C.
This is his first published novel.
Gant has developed a symbiotic relationship with the local chapter of
motorcycle outcasts. He takes the occasional criminal or tort case for
them and they serve as a steady referral source, much to the distaste of
his more discriminating law partners. In the latest case, in which one
of the leaders lost control of his bike to the permanent detriment of
his passenger, Gant has made some big promises to his client.
Complications arise with the client's gang colleagues, Gant's partners,
fee arrangements, and the prosecuting attorney with whom Gant has
previously shared a very personal relationship. This provides fertile
ground for the blooming of Gant's hubris and for Bell's rich dialogue
and narrative. In this excerpt the main character is searching for a
legal strategy that will give him some chance of success in his
"Gant paced the thick carpet in front of Larry the Law Clerk. Good
kid, he thought. Smart, quiet, respectful. Full of the ignorance,
innocence, and faith in the law which had been undisturbed by his formal
education. A student's typical bipolar view - black or white, good or
evil, right or wrong. After two years here, Gant knew, he'd understand
lawyers keep these ideas displayed on a shelf like precious antiques,
well-cared for but rarely used. He'd learn to use instead the
gray-colored tools of the trade such as mitigating circumstances,
ambiguities, and reasonable doubt."
The same cynical self-confidence (over-confidence?) that leads Gant
to embrace a serpent by exploiting his relationship with the gang also
leads Gant to plan a triumphant, in-your-face return to his high school
reunion, in the role of an outlaw biker. The persona is a total fiction,
but thoroughly prepared (as befits a trial lawyer). He takes an
intensive course in biker-outlawry and even acquires a
rent-a-biker-chick. As the reader becomes acquainted with Gant, and
watches as the stage is set, the sense that "no good can come of this"
The portrayal of biker life, both with Gant's clientele and with his
reunion odyssey, is not so much verisimilitude as fantasy. Dan Bell went
through a biker stage but not as a member, or even a groupie, of a gang.
This subcommunity of the book's population is depicted in the spirit of
camp and fun, not as journalistic documentation.
Bell's novel is entertaining, with a special appeal to lawyers. His
writing, like that of Tom Robbins, the author of the hilarious
Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, has a spirit of
irreverence and iconoclastic comedy. Attorneys, and perhaps
many others, however, also may see it as a Greek tragedy or a morality
play: It reminds us that whenever we are obsessed with saving others or
teaching them a lesson, we are probably destined primarily to learn a
difficult lesson ourselves.
Toxic Mold Litigation
By Raymund C. King (Chicago, IL: ABA Tort Trial &
Insurance Practice Section, 2003). 196 pgs. $125. Save
Reviewed by Tristan R. Pettit
Toxic mold has been described by some as the next litigation
frontier, much like asbestos claims were years ago. Thus the recent
publication of Toxic Mold Litigation could not have been more
timely. This handbook was authored and edited by various members of the
self-titled "Mold Team," a group of defense lawyers from a Dallas,
Texas, defense firm focusing on toxic mold litigation.
Described as a "practical handbook designed to assist both the
seasoned litigator as well as the new associate in working up and
litigating a mold claim," this handbook suffers from trying to do too
much for too many. While most of the chapters are specific to toxic mold
litigation and very comprehensive, certain chapters - those apparently
appealing to the "new associate" - digress into basic litigation
information that feels out of place next to the more complicated and
detailed information that comprises the majority of the text. Topics
such as dealing with jurors' preconceptions, using themes to communicate
your client's case to the jury, and the pros and cons of using focus
groups versus mock trials, should more appropriately be included in a
general primer on litigation, not in a handbook devoted to toxic mold
When the authors focus on their true audience - the more seasoned
litigator - the handbook proves to be very worthwhile. They provide a
nice survey of mold cases from around the country, provide a protocol
for systematically analyzing mold claims, and include an overview of the
types of experts that may be used in mold litigation.
One of the most enlightening chapters of this handbook details the
science behind the microscopic fungi that we call mold. The authors
explain the basics of the human immune system and then segue into recent
scientific advances that support and negate the causation arguments that
are at the heart of many toxic mold claims. A thorough discussion of the
possible effects of exposure to toxic mold also is included. While
clearly written from the defense attorney's perspective, the authors do
a nice job of providing material that will assist attorneys working on
either side of the issue.
A considerable portion of text analyzes the insurance coverage issues
that typically arise in toxic mold litigation. The authors also survey
both federal and state legislation pertaining to mold issues. The
chapter focusing specifically on issues related to expert witnesses
unfortunately attempts to appeal to a larger audience than is necessary
and thus digresses into topics like how an expert's opinion must be
grounded in facts supported in evidence, how expert witnesses must
possess expert qualifications, and how expert testimony on matters
within the common knowledge of the jury are not admissible. These are
topcis with which anyone handling a toxic mold case, or any piece of
complex litigation, should already be very familiar.
The 53 pages of forms, checklists, and other aids to assist both
counsel for the plaintiff and the defendant should prove to be very
helpful. These aids include form interrogatories, requests to admit,
requests for production of documents, deposition checklists, checklists
for the cross-examination of medical experts in toxic mold cases, and
sample release forms. Inclusion of a diskette containing these forms
would have been useful.
Overall, Toxic Mold Litigation is a helpful handbook that
should assist experienced trial lawyers handling mold claims, provided
they are prepared to weed through some of the basic and unnecessary
information that the authors included to appeal to a larger
Lease Negotiation Handbook
Edited by Edward Chupack (Philadelphia, PA: ALI-ABA, 2003).
782 pgs., with CD-ROM. $169. Order, (800) 253-6397.
Reviewed by Lee R. Ferderer
Like many fields in our modern economy, the world of commercial real
estate has become so complex and specialized that it has evolved into
its own discipline in both law and business. The general practitioner or
non-real estate attorney can from time to time, however, find himself or
herself in the uneasy position of having to provide legal advice on
drafting or negotiating a commercial lease. Uniquely, an attorney might
be called on to represent one side of the law (tenant) on one occasion
and the opposite side (landlord) on another. The strength of the
Lease Negotiation Handbook is that it examines every aspect of
modern commercial lease negotiations from both of these
This handbook discusses the entire lease negotiation process from
pre-lease issues, such as the use of letters of intent, through the
of a lease, whether by expiration of the term or default of one of the
parties, and everything in between. Each chapter focuses on one area of
the lease or lease transaction process
and is made up of two or more articles written by distinguished
commercial real estate lawyers or leasing professionals. Each article
takes either the tenant or the landlord's perspective in its discussion
of the topic. Many of the authors share sample forms and checklists,
conveniently provided on
The book is suitable for a wide audience. Within its 700-plus pages,
the leasing expert will find an informative discussion of the interplay
of various lease provisions as well as additional information and
opinions to challenge or supplement previously held convictions. At the
same time, the leasing novice will find an easy-to-read primer on nearly
every conceivable aspect of lease negotiations. In either case, when
preparing to negotiate a lease or when participating in a difficult
lease negotiation, the Lease Negotiation Handbook is an
excellent resource to gain insight on a specific leasing topic or to
appreciate the opposing party's vantage point.
To Review a Book...
The following books are available for review. Please request the book
and writing guidelines from Karlé Lester at the State Bar of
Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, (608) 250-6127, email@example.com.
- Guardianship and Protective Placement for the Elderly in
Wisconsin, Second Edition, by Gretchen Viney (Madison, WI: State
Bar of Wisconsin, CLE Books, 2004). 207 pgs.
- Tell the Court, "I Love My Wife": Race, Marriage, and Law - An
American History, by Peter Wallenstein (New York, NY: Palgrave
MacMillan, 2004). 305 pgs.