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He had it all, and then he lost it. But why did he do it, risking everything—wealth, success, livelihood, freedom, and the security of family?
Eat What You Kill is the story of John Gellene, a rising star and bankruptcy partner at one of Wall Street's most venerable law firms. But when Gellene became entangled in a web of conflicting corporate and legal interests involving one of his clients, he was eventually charged with making false statements, indicted, found guilty of a federal crime, and sentenced to prison.
Milton C. Regan Jr. uses Gellene's case to prove that such conflicting interests are now disturbingly commonplace in the world of American corporate finance. Combining a journalist's eye with sharp psychological insight, Regan spins Gellene's story into a gripping drama of fundamental tensions in modern-day corporate practice and describes in perfect miniature the inexorable confluence of the interests of American corporations and their legal counselors.
This confluence may seem natural enough, but because these law firms serve many masters —corporations, venture capitalists, shareholder groups—it has paradoxically led to deep, pervasive conflicts of interest. Eat What You Kill gives us the story of a man trapped in this labyrinth, and reveals the individual and systemic factors that contributed to Gellene's demise.
"This is a spell-binding book that . . . does for corporate and bankruptcy law what A Civil Action did to illuminate the practice of personal injury law. . . . It is no puffery to describe [it] as a spellbinder and a page-turner. . . . [Eat What You Kill] deserves to be adopted as supplemental reading in courses in legal ethics, bankruptcy, corporate law, and for courses in the legal professions. . . . [This is] the first book that shows how the 'eat what you kill' ethic has permeated the top firms and challenged the ethics of top graduates from the top law schools."
—Michael L. Rustad, Thomas F. Lambert Jr. Professor of Law & Co-Director of Intellectual Property Law Program, Suffolk University Law School
"Eat What You Kill is gripping and well written. The story is fresh and will appeal to a wide audience consisting of business and law students, lawyers, and the academic community. It weaves in academic commentary and understanding of professional ethics issues in a way that makes it accessible to everyone."
—Frank Partnoy, University of San Diego Law School
"Professor Regan's book provides a valuable insight into the behavior of one lawyer, John Gellene, whose downfall is well known to both bankruptcy academics and the practicing bankruptcy bar...a wonderful character study of someone whose cognitive dissonance ("I am brilliant, therefore I must be doing everything correctly") led directly to his downfall. Students would do well to read this book before venturing forth into a large firm, a small firm, or any pressure-cooker environment."
—Nancy Rapoport, University of Houston Law Center
". . . a thoughtful book . . . Regan shows talent in the straightforward presentation of extremely tangled facts."
"Regan's well-written and well-researched book confronts the reality of law as a business and he suggests how to make it a reasonably honorable business."
—Jacob A. Stein, Legal Times
"The book makes for sobering reading, precisely because it is about much more than the downfall of an individual lawyer or a black eye to a prestigious firm. . . . If you read only one book about the legal profession this year, let it be Eat What You Kill."
—Anthony E. Davis, Partner, Lawyers for the Profession practice group at Hinshaw & Culbertson
"[Regan] chronicles an interesting tale of a lawyer who lost his way in an ethical minefield. He writes lucidly about difficult legal concepts and issues, and he offers important historical background and context. This book is a valuable addition to the literature of the law profession and legal ethics."
—Western Legal History
". . . should earn itself a place in law school ethics classrooms across the country."
"Eat What You Kill is one of those rare books that illuminates an entire subject—here, the transformation of the legal profession in the last quarter of the 20 century—by showing how a particular case is a microcosm of the whole. The book makes for sobering reading, precisely because it is about much more than the downfall of an individual lawyer or a black eye to a prestigious firm . . . Most of all, it is about the changes that our profession has undergone in the last three decades. If you read only one book about the legal profession this year, let it be Eat What You Kill."
—Anthony E. Davis, a partner in the Lawyers for the Profession practice group at Hinshaw & Culbertson