In Machiavelli’s masterpiece, The Prince, chapter 19 — “That One Should Avoid Being Despised And Hated” — contains Machaivelli’s only suggested restrictions on the Prince’s absolute power. Machiavelli essentially argues that the Prince must not take the people’s sheep (“sheep” being a metaphor for the ability of peasants to have enough food) or their women (“women” being a metaphor for women). He writes: “It makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain. And when neither their property nor honour is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many ways.”
These are good restrictions for all who find themselves in positions of inscrutable power. Most men will suffer any other form of servitude so long as they have enough to eat and are allowed exclusive access to their own wives. The 1% will be just fine, so long as they don’t institute some kind of system of polygamy that allows the wealthy to marry-up all of the available women.
Machaivelli’s advice applies just as easily to a totalitarian ruler of a country as it does to a managing partner of a law firm. Managing partners, ignore Machiavelli at your peril. You could end up with a full-scale revolt on your hands — or, at the very least, an embarrassing lawsuit from a former, allegedly cuckolded partner….
We’ve written before about the merger of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge and the ever-popular Wildman Harrold. But we didn’t know that the Edwards Wildman managing partner, Walter Reed, was allegedly interested in merging with other firm assets.
A new lawsuit alleges that Reed carried on an affair with Laurie Hall, also a partner at Edwards Wildman. Why is such salacious speculation in a lawsuit? Because it’s a lawsuit filed by Hall’s husband, Lawrence Cohen, who was also a partner at Edwards Wildman.
“Was” being the operative word in that sentence. Thomson Reuters News & Insights picks up the story:
The lawsuit asserts that Reed’s alleged affair with Hall, a partner in Edwards Wildman’s estate planning practice, led to Cohen’s loss of a leadership appointment and clients and to lower pay. He claims that the situation forced him to resign in November.
Cohen and Hall separated in September. It is unclear if they are divorced….
The 19-page complaint asserts that Reed and Hall began an affair in 2009. Cohen claims that because of the affair he was excluded from firm events, including two weekend leadership retreats. The complaint also alleges that Hall and Reed in 2010 began “to spend increasing time in the office alone and behind closed doors.” The lawsuit further alleges that Reed and Hall announced their relationship to a meeting of firm partners in November and said that they were divorcing their spouses.
OUCH. Having the managing partner announce to the whole firm that he’s been banging your wife has got to sting. Damn straight he had to resign. It’s amazing that Lawrence Cohen didn’t have to leave the country in search of his manhood.
Cohen is now a partner at Nixon Peabody. Can you imagine his partnership interview?
COHEN: So, I have to ask an important but potentially uncomfortable question.
NIXON PEABODY: Yes, of course, our method for calculating your draw is actually very easy to understand.
COHEN: No, I have to ask, are you the kind of people who f**k other men’s wives?
NP: Excuse me?
COHEN: Don’t be coy with me goddamn it. Are you wife-f**kers? If I leave you alone in the room with my wife, will she come back un-f**ked?
NP: Sir, please. We don’t understand the question. [Quick huddle.] Obviously “married” secretaries are fair game, are they not?
COHEN: I mean the wives of your fellow partners!
NP: Oh, of course not. We are not heathens. Your wife is off limits.
COHEN: Okay. That is good to know. I don’t really need to look over any of these other papers, I’m ready to sign the partnership agreement now.
I think we need to hear from Laurie Hall about these allegations. This isn’t 1532; Hall had a say in how this all went down.
Attorney sues over wife’s alleged affair with firm leader [Thomson Reuters News & Insights]
The Prince: Second Edition [Amazon (affiliate link)]