What was your “I have to get the f**k out of here” epiphany?(He's not related to Judge Posner, by the way.)
Never had it. It wasn’t a single light-bulb moment. Instead, I did this pro bono lawsuit (that was unsuccessful) for twins of a Nazi concentration camp. And during the four-year course of gathering documents and doing research, I became an expert of sorts on the so-called Angel of Death, Josef Mengele. When the suit was over, I approached a publisher, McGraw-Hill, without an agent, and they figured this obsessive work of mine might make a good biography. I never expected to never practice law again. But I so liked writing the book (a bit like doing a giant brief on a tight deadline) that I never looked back....
Do you think your legal background gives you an edge as a reporter?
Big time. The major thing is that I’m not afraid of documents, after getting used to them in the antitrust litigation against IBM while at Cravath. So when I approached the JFK assassination, reporters would say there are tens and tens of thousands of pages of docs. And I’d think, “So?” Also, non-lawyers tend to be more impressed with a legal degree than they should—it helps open up doors.
June 12, 2009
"Divorce was almost viewed as though an associate had made the decision to stay with the [Cravath law] firm rather than have a personal life."
Gerald Posner tells the story of his transition from a big law firm into a life of writing books. Lots of great stuff at the link. Excerpts: