311: David Boies
David Boies (born March 11, 1941) is an American lawyer and chairman of the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner. He has been involved in various high-profile cases in the United States including Supreme Court case Gore v Bush (2000), arguably the biggest of case of the last 40 years since Brown v Board of Education.
Boies was born in Sycamore, Illinois, to two teachers, and raised in a farming community. He has four siblings. His first job was when he was 10 years old—a paper route with 120 customers. Boies has dyslexia and he did not learn to read until the third grade. In 1954, the family moved to California. Boies graduated from Fullerton Union High School in Fullerton, California. Boies attended the University of Redlands, received a B.S. from Northwestern University in 1964, a law degree magna cum laude from Yale Law School in 1966 and an LL.M. from New York University School of Law 1967; he was awarded an hononary LL.D. from the University of Redlands in 2000. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, which is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.
Boies, Schiller & Flexner headquarters in Armonk, New York
Boies was an attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, where he started upon law school graduation in 1966 and became a partner in 1973. He left Cravath in 1997 after a major client objected to his representation of the New York Yankees even though the firm itself had found no conflict. He left the firm within 48 hours of being informed of the client’s objection and created his own firm, now known as Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.. It is currently rated 17th in “overall prestige” and 12th among New York law firms by Vault.com, a website on legal career information.
Boies was also Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the United States Senate Antitrust Subcommittee in 1978, and served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee in 1979.
- At Cravath, Boies assisted top litigator Thomas D. Barr in defending IBM in the 13-year antitrust cases brought by the Justice Department and many private competitors.
- Also at Cravath, he represented the Justice Department in the United States v. Microsoft case. Boies won a “victory” at trial, and the verdict was upheld on appeal. The appellate court overturned the relief ordered (breakup of the company) back to the trial court for further proceedings. Thereafter, the George W. Bush administration settled the case. Bill Gates said Boies was “out to destroy Microsoft.” In 2001, the Washington Monthly called Boies “a brilliant trial lawyer”, “a latter-day Clarence Darrow,” and “a mad genius” for his work on the Microsoft case.
- Boies represented New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in a suit against Major League Baseball. This involved an action against all the teams. The Atlanta Braves were owned by Time Warner, a longtime Cravath client, who objected to his representation of the Yankees.
- He defended CBS in the action brought by General William Westmoreland. The general abandoned his case during the trial.
- Following the 2000 U.S. presidential election, he represented Vice President Al Gore in Bush v. Gore.
- Boies defended Napster when the company was sued by the RIAA for facilitating copyright infringement.
- In November 2003, he represented Andrew Fastow, deposed Chief Financial Officer of Enron.
- Boies was retained by the SCO Group, during the SCO-Linux controversies, in their pursuit of alleged infringement of their rights to the Unixintellectual properties.
- In 2006, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP negotiated a major settlement with The American International Group on behalf of its client, C. V. Starr, a firm controlled by Maurice R. Greenberg, the former chairman and chief executive of A.I.G.
- Boies negotiated on behalf of American Express two of the highest civil antitrust settlements ever for an individual company: $2.25 billion from Visa, and $1.8 billion from MasterCard.
- Boies is representing filmmaker Michael Moore regarding a Treasury Department investigation into Moore’s trip to Cuba while filming for Sicko.
- On June 24, 2009, following the California Supreme Court ruling on Strauss v. Horton, Boies joined former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, the opposing attorney in Bush v. Gore, in the lawsuit Perry v. Schwarzenegger seeking to overturn the state of California‘s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. In August 2010, the trial judge ruled in their clients’ favor.
- Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP assisted the government in obtaining a $155 million settlement from Medco Health Solutions related to a qui tam complaint which alleged that Medco, “systematically and intentionally switched patients’ prescriptions in an effort to increase the market share for certain pharmaceutical manufacturers, and thereby increased hidden rebate payments it received from pharmaceutical manufacturers.” In response to the settlement, Mr. Boies said, “I am very happy that lawyers from Boies, Schiller & Flexner were able to contribute to the litigation and settlement of this qui tam case, which will result in important changes in the way pharmacy managers do business by increasing their level of accountability to their patients. We are also very happy we could help the government recover the money it was erroneously billed by Medco, and that Medco agreed to execute a Corporate Integrity Agreement which will govern their conduct in the future.”
- On August 20, 2009 the Golden Gate Yacht Club announced that he had been retained in their ongoing dispute with Société Nautique de Genève regarding the 33rd America’s Cup.
- In March, 2010, David Boies joined the team of attorneys representing Jamie McCourt in her divorce from Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.
- Boies is part of the legal team representing the National Football League in their antitrust litigation, Bradyv. NFL.
- Boies represented the National Basketball Players Association during the 2011 NBA lockout. He joined sides with Jeffrey Kessler, who opposed Boies as a representative for the players in the 2011 NFL lockout.
- Boies was the lead counsel for Oracle Corporation in its lawsuit against Google on the use of Java (programming language) technology in the Android (operating system). The case decided that Google did not infringe on Oracle’s patents.
- In 2012 Boies represented three tobacco companies, Philip Morris USA Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Liggett Group LLC in their appeal of a $2.5 million Tampa jury verdict in the death of smoker Charlotte Douglas.
In popular culture
Boies was portrayed by actor Ed Begley, Jr. in the 2008 film Recount, by Jack Laufer in the 2010 TV Series “Proposition 8 Trial Re-Enactment”, and by George Clooney and Morgan Freeman in the 2012 play “8“.
- Professorial chairs:
- $1.5 million to the Tulane University Law School to establish the “David Boies Distinguished Chair in Law.” Two of Boies’ children earned their law degrees at Tulane.
- A “David Boies Professor” was established at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently held by Professor of History and Sociology Thomas Sugrue. The professorship is named after David Boies’ father, a high school teacher of government and economics.
- A “David Boies Chair” at the Yale Law School was formerly held by Professor Robert Post before he became dean of the law school.
- David and Mary Boies endowed a chair in government at the University of Redlands, the college that David Boies attended. Arthur Svenson currently holds this chair.
- Mary and David Boies also endowed a “Maurice Greenberg Chair” at the Yale Law School.
- David Boies and his wife, Mary, donated $5 Million to Northern Westchester Hospital, in Mount Kisco, New York. Part of an ongoing capital campaign, the Boies’ money is being used to build the hospital’s new emergency room.
David and Mary Boies also fund the “Mary and David Boies Fellowships” for foreign students at the Harvard Kennedy School. The Boies give an annual picnic at their home for the incoming Teach for America corps for New York City (300–500 people). They support the Central European and Eurasian Law Institute (CEELI), a Prague-based institute that trains judges from newly democratized countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. There is a “Mary and David Boies Reading Room” at the CEELI Institute in Prague.
- “Never in a thousand years could I have predicted such a large recovery. Mr. Boies has to be the Tiger Woods of the legal profession.”
- “Few lawyers today can rival Boies’ string of major triumphs… Boies’ strengths include an encyclopedic mastery of the facts of a case and a chess player’s sense of predicting a course of action.” Cary Reich, New York Times Sunday Magazine, June 1, 1986
- “[Maxwell] Blecher [“one of California’s savviest and most experienced litigators”] was flabbergasted that this young kid knocked him out of the box, really in the first round, ” said litigator and partner Thomas D. Barr to the New York Times Sunday Magazine, June 1, 1986
- “The one talent of David’s that stands out is his ability to lay out a course of action that would take into account any sort of complicated facts and develop a far-reaching scenario. It’s a chess player’s sense: If I do this, the following 15 things are going to happen, and if step 11 goes so, I’ll do this rather than that. It’s a fantastic game-playing ability.” Thomas D. Barr, quoted in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, June 1, 1986
- “No lawyer in America has tried and argued on appeal as many landmark cases in as many different areas as Mr. Boies.” Citation in Milton Gould Award for Outstanding Advocacy, October 1996
- “In court and out, he speaks a brand of English so simple and direct that he sounds like the high school teacher he once thought he would become.” Time Magazine, “Get me Boies!” by Daniel Okrent, December 25, 2000
- “The Boies memory is one of the first things cited when people discuss his strengths. What’s most impressive about that gift – focused as it may be by the intensified concentration that his dyslexia demands – is Boies’ uncanny ability to recall a key fact, legal citation or piece of contradictory testimony at moments of the most intense pressure.” Time Magazine, “Get me Boies!” by Daniel Okrent, December 25, 2000
- “David is the best lawyer I have ever seen, bar none… No question, David Boies is hard-wired different than everybody else. His brain works different. I was there at the counsel’s table when he argued Bush v. Gore, I have seen other things he’s done. He’s just different. He’s not human, in a very real way. He’s capable of keeping track of five different things in a way that most very, very good lawyers could keep track of one of them… When it comes to a lawyer-lawyer, David Boies is far and away (the best).” Tom Goldstein, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
Awards and honors
- Time Magazine named Boies “Lawyer of the Year” in 2000. Boies was a runner-up to George W. Bush as “Person of the Year.”
- Milton Gould Award for Outstanding Advocacy, October 1996
- Lifetime Achievement Award from LD Access Foundation, October 2001
- Outstanding Learning Disabled Achievers Award from the Lab School in Washington, DC
- William Brennan, Jr. Award from the University of Virginia School of Law, 2002
- Pinnacle Award, International Dyslexia Association, November 2005
In his 2001 book, prosecutor and author Vincent Bugliosi criticized Boies’ abilities as a trial lawyer, arguing that Boies “wasn’t forceful or eloquent at all in making his points” in Bush v. Gore. “[A]lthough he seemed to have a very good grasp of the facts, he seemed completely incapable of drawing powerful, irresistible inferences from those facts that painted his opposition into a corner”.