Bimonthly Review of Law Books
September/October 2004

Corporate & Wall Street Ethics

By Michael L. Rustad
Thomas F. Lambert Jr. Professor of Law
Suffolk University Law School.

This book is a profile in courage, describing in moving detail the saga of a private attorney general who suffered great personal costs while serving the public interest by uncovering corporate wrongdoing. Keith Schooley’s well-written book is an odyssey of his struggles with Merrill Lynch management that took him on a journey through nearly every regulatory agency, a blue-ribbon arbitration panel, and finally the Tenth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals…

Mr. Schooley illustrates the ways the “powerful and mighty” play the game inside and outside of a court of law, including employing unethical and perhaps illegal tactics. It is a powerful story of the personal costs of whistle-blowing and doing the right thing as well as an insider’s guide to the world of the securities industry… Mr. Schooley’s lawsuit did vindicate the public’s interest in uncovering unsavory practices. As Justice Brandeis reminds us: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” In view of the current climate of corporate scandals – Enron, Arthur Anderson, WorldCom, Adelphia, and others – Schooley’s book is an important one that offers a hard and disturbing look at Wall Street’s largest securities firm. As a former employee of Merrill Lynch, Schooley gives a backstage view at what goes on behind the impression-managed front-stage. The public relations voice of corporate America differs significantly from the reality. Mr. Schooley documents a pattern of problems at the firm ranging from brokers to senior management, and suggests that the problems could even be traced to the board of directors.

This is a book that should be read by not only Merrill Lynch clients, but all investors… In an era of lax industry and governmental control, we need more private attorneys general like Mr. Schooley. We need more brave litigants and trial lawyers willing to take on corporate America more than ever.