Bush v. Gore may have divided the country, but it brought together the two attorneys arguing it: Theodore B. Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, an assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration and future solicitor general for President George W. Bush; and David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, a former aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy, who represented the government in U.S. v. Microsoft. In the aftermath of the 2000 election the two men became friends, sharing summer bike trips with their wives and an interest in wine. And in 2009, they famously teamed up in the Proposition 8 case, winning back the right for same-sex couples to marry in California.
In January, Super Lawyers Magazine sat down with Boies and Olson at the Four Seasons in New York City for a wide-ranging discussion about marriage equality, law firm culture, what each looks for in a new hire and the future of the billable hour.
Q: What advice would you have for a young man or woman looking to go to law school in this environment?
Boies: Even before they decide to go, I’d say, “Why are you going?” If you’re going to get a really good education that will teach you to think and solve problems, regardless of whether you practice law or not, that’s a good reason to go. If you’re interested in the justice system, that’s an even better reason to go. If you’re just trying to mark time, that’s a poor reason to go.
Olson: Don’t go to law school because you want to make lots of money. There are other ways to make lots of money. If you really get a bang out of practicing law and solving problems and trying to persuade and doing something very creative, and if you like the history and you like the law and you like the structure of our legal system, then you’re going to be spending your life doing things that you like. That’s the only reason to do it.
Q: Is that what you’re looking for when recent law school graduates try to get jobs at your firms?
Olson: Absolutely. You want people that really love to work, and want to work hard, and have manifested, through their achievement in college and law school, that they have the ability to think these problems through. It’s the enthusiasm. You can see it in their eyes.
By Erik Lundegaard and Cindy Larson (2014 Washington D.C. Super Lawyers Magazine)