General Electric GC: Talk To Me

March 6, 2015, 4:02 PM

Brackett Denniston III, General Counsel of General Electric Company, ignores legal marketing materials when judging a lawyer.

He explains why in the third and final part of our interview with him, and also gives advice on the best way to reach him and offered his own musings on Deflategate, the scandal that briefly enveloped his beloved New England Patriots on their route to a Super Bowl victory this year.

Part III Excerpts:

“I usually find a good conversation the best form of marketing, and a body of experience.”

“I get a million emails ... but, like most people, I’m not able to keep up with them all.”

"(Deflategate) was an inflated scandal and totally mishandled.”

Below is the edited transcript of the final installment of our three-part series with Denniston.

Big Law Business: Does law firm marketing influence you much?

Denniston: Zero. I don’t pay any attention to it, and I don’t think most lawyers here do. By marketing, I mean materials and things like that. I have been to a thousand lawyer pitches and they occasionally are helpful, but I usually find a good conversation the best form of marketing, and a body of experience. Once in my life I tried to pick judges, and suggest them to the governor. I didn’t look at marketing materials. I talked to people. I looked at their body of work. [Editor’s note: From 1993 to 1996, Mr. Denniston served as chief legal counsel to Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld.]

Big Law Business: What’s the best way to reach you?

Denniston: The best way is to talk to me. I get a million emails so that’s sometimes a way, but, like most people, I’m not able to keep up with them all. I go to a lot of things, and I approach people and I talk to them.

Big Law Business: Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice?

Denniston: Really hard question. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to name one. I have always admired both of the Harlans ( John Marshall Harlan and John Marshall Harlan II ). The elder wrote the dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, as I recall. He was careful, restrained, reasoned well, and clear. You didn’t always agree with him, but you admired him.

I wouldn’t list people who I simply agree with. I list people who I admired.

The more modern the courts get the more difficult it is to say. It has to season. For different reasons, I admire Breyer ( Stephen Breyer ) and I admire Rehnquist ( William Rehnquist ), even though I disagreed with them on a number of issues.

I admired Justice Ginsburg ( Ruth Bader Ginsburg ). I don’t’ agree with her a lot, but I admire her because she is plucky and she’s tough. I admire Scalia ( Antonin Scalia ) in many ways because he can write and he can tear you apart. That teaches you something.

Big Law Business: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Denniston: I’m a big sports fan. Red Sox and Patriots. I also like exercise. I swim and bike. It keeps you sane.

Big Law Business: What did you think of “Deflategate”?

Denniston: It’s a bunch of BS. It’s an inflated scandal and totally mishandled. When you have to hire Ted Wells to investigate footballs, that’s just ridiculous. Ted Wells should be investigating something serious. I’m more in the Bob Kraft camp about this. [Editor’s Note: Patriots’ owner Kraft wants an apology if the NFL investigation clears his team of allegations that it used an under-inflated football to win a key playoff game.]

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