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20 Questions

David Boies

Sometimes it seems that whenever a lawsuit hits the headlines, David Boies, cofounder of the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, is at the center of it.

BY WORTH | Sep 18, 2017
Illustration by Graham Smith
  • 01 What are you listening to these days? The Beatles, Janis Joplin, some Frank Sinatra.
  • 02 Favorite book? The Bible. As a text and for religious reasons.
  • 03 What are you reading now? I watch television shows more than I read.
  • 04 Do you have a favorite show? The Americans. It deals with an era that is part of my memory but also far enough away to reflect on.
  • 05 Favorite film? The Searchers. Casablanca. The Left Hand of God—it’s a Humphrey Bogart movie.
  • 06 What’s the best film about a lawyer? There are a number of good movies about lawyers: A Time to Kill. The Verdict. To Kill a Mockingbird. Anatomy of a Murder. They all tell you something important about the law and the practice of law.
  • 07 Favorite legal character? Perry Mason—but not of the TV show, of the Erle Stanley Gardner books. The Perry Mason of the books was grittier.
  • 08 Most important rule for winning a case? Preparation and patience. Why patience? It’s about learning everything that you can before you put your stake in the ground.
  • 09 Beer, wine or spirits? Wine. I’d recommend Hawk and Horse cabernet sauvignon—that’s my vineyard. And the 2012 Opus One and 2012 Quintessa are really good wines.
  • 10 Do you have a favorite watch? Not really. I’ve been given watches, and I always give them to members of my family who appreciate them more.
  • 11 What do you drive? My favorite car for many years was a 6.6-liter Trans Am convertible. But I’ve got a Tesla right now, and it is an amazing car.
  • 12 Sailboat or motorboat? Sailboat. I like blending in with the wind and the water as opposed to trying to overcome them.
  • 13 Exercise of choice? Bicycling. Mary, my wife, and I go on at least two bicycle trips a year.
  • 14 Biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome? For any parent, it’s dealing with your children, trying to find the right mix between letting them develop and protecting them.
  • 15 Best advice you’ve ever received? “Listen before you speak.” That’s what my father told me and what I told my children.
  • 16 Guilty pleasure? Hot fudge sundaes, fried chicken, watching television—too many to count.
  • 17 Who are your heroes? Jesus Christ. Daniel Webster. Abraham Lincoln.
  • 18 What’s one thing about you that would surprise judges? Maybe how nervous I still get. If you’re doing something that you care about, you’re always going to be nervous.
  • 19 What’s the most important thing that you’ve learned about power? To respect the obligations that possession of power gives you. Power is a trust.
  • 20 How would you like to be remembered? As somebody who cared about his family, and cared about justice.

This article originally appeared in the October/November 2016 issue of Worth.

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