Journal of the Legal Profession
Shark Tank: Greed, Politics, and the Collapse of Finley, Kumble, One of America’s Largest Law Firms is a non-fiction potboiler written by Kim Isaac Eisler. The story is generally about the decline and fall of an institution instrumental to capitalism that prospered during much of the 1980s. In particular, it is about the decline and fall of men whose hubris and greed make the decline and fall so satisfying to read.
While it would be easy to dismiss the demise of Finley, Kumble, because it was not an old, established “white shoe” law firm, or to analogize it to the other capitalistic excesses of the 1980s, the story gives readers some insight into the future of law firms and the legal profession. Additionally, it outlines two stories which need to be studied in order to more fully appreciate the sociology of the large law firm: the extent to which the influence Steven Brill and The American Lawyer has affected large law firms, and the value of and method by which a law firm achieves “white shoe” or establishment status in the practice of law in New York City.
Although there are several disconcerting gaps in character development, Eisler competently tells the reader the story of how Finley, Kumble grew into the second largest firm in the United States, and how it crumbled quickly thereafter. This makes Shark Tank worthwhile, mildly diverting entertainment, designed for lawyers, businessmen, and other professionals to peruse at the beach.
Michael S. Ariens, Just a Bigger Fish (book review), 15 J. Legal Prof. 329 (1990).