RICHARD E. WILEY
First Interview – June 5, 2013
This interview is being conducted on behalf of the Oral History Project of the Historical
Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. The interviewee is Richard E Wiley, Esquire. The
interviewer is George Jones, Esquire. The interview took place at Mr. Wiley’s office at Wiley
Rein LLP in Washington, D.C., on June 5, 2013.
This is the first session of the oral history of Richard E. Wiley being conducted at his
office at Wiley Rein LLP in Washington, D.C. The interviewer’s name is George Jones.
Today’s date is June 5, 2013.
Mr. Jones: Mr. Wiley, you were born in Peoria, but I wanted to start a little earlier than that.
What were your parents’ names?
Mr. Wiley: Joseph H. Wiley and my mother’s name was Jean Wiley. J-e-a-n.
Mr. Jones: And what sort of work did your father do?
Mr. Wiley: He was a manufacturer’s agent, I think, for McGraw Edison’s small electronics
Mr. Jones: And was he in retail sales in Peoria?
Mr. Wiley: No, not retail sales. I don’t recall precisely but I think he helped place McGraw
Edison equipment with various retailers.
Mr. Jones: Okay. And how long did you live in Peoria?
Mr. Wiley: Just a few years. We moved to the Chicago area when I was four or five years
Mr. Jones: Chicago was a long ways from Peoria. Do you recall—
Mr. Wiley: Not very far. A couple hours.
Mr. Jones: I mean figuratively speaking Chicago seems to be quite a different place than
Peoria, or at least my imagination of Peoria.
Mr. Wiley: Peoria was a cosmopolitan town. Certainly nothing to compare with Chicago.
Caterpillar was the big manufacturer in Peoria.
Mr. Jones: Oh, is that right.
Mr. Wiley: Yes.
Mr. Jones: I don’t think I’ve ever heard Peoria referred to as cosmopolitan.
Mr. Wiley: (Laugh) Well it’s the quintessential capital of middle America. Let’s put it that
Mr. Jones: Okay. Alright. Did you have siblings?
Mr. Wiley: I had two older brothers. One about 12 years older than I was, and one 4 and a
half years older.
Mr. Jones: What were their names?
Mr. Wiley: Joseph H. Wiley, Jr. and Gerald H. Wiley.
Mr. Jones: So when your family moved to the Chicago area, you moved to a suburb.
Mr. Wiley: Right, Winnetka, Illinois. My parents hadn’t gone to college, it was a different
era then. My dad’s father had died when he was eight years old leaving seven
children. But my father really believed in education, so he sought, I think, a
suburb that had excellent schools which was very fortunate for me.
Mr. Jones: Did your uncle and aunts live in Illinois?
Mr. Wiley: They live in Peoria.
Mr. Jones: Were you close to any of your uncles and aunts?
Mr. Wiley: Not particularly.
Mr. Jones: Alright, so you’re in Winnetka. Where did you go to school in Winnetka?
Mr. Wiley: I went to Winnetka public schools and ultimately to New Trier High School,
T-r-i-e-r, New Trier.
Mr. Jones: Okay. And I understand you were a baseball player.
Mr. Wiley: Yes I was. I played varsity baseball at New Trier.
Mr. Jones: And what position did you play?
Mr. Wiley: First base, some outfield.
Mr. Jones: And this was around 1947 to ’51.
Mr. Wiley: Yes, I graduated in 1951.
Mr. Jones: What was Winnetka like? That’s right after World War II?
Mr. Wiley: Well it was a very nice suburb then and now as far as I know.
Mr. Jones: So you play any other sports in high school?
Mr. Wiley: I played JV basketball.
Mr. Jones: Okay. Okay. What kind of team did New Trier have. What kind of baseball
Mr. Wiley: Quite good. We played in the Suburban League which was challenging.
Mr. Jones: Were you a Cubs fan?
Mr. Wiley: Definitely a Cubs fan, then and now.
Mr. Jones: But I’ve never understood this. I’ve spent some time in Chicago. There seems to
be a very clear difference between Cubs fans and White Sox fans.
Mr. Wiley: Well Wrigley Field, where the Cubs played, was relatively closer to where I grew
up so it was easier to get there. Comiskey Park, on the south side, was quite a
ways. We went down to see the White Sox play, but it was harder to get there.
Took a lot longer in those days, in particular, and so I think you just identified
with the Cubs more if you lived to the North, and the reverse would be true for
people who grew up in the south side of Chicago or in the south suburbs, and
there were a lot of those.
Mr. Jones: Calumet.
Mr. Wiley: And Harvey, and Thornton, and what have you.
Mr. Jones: So it’s geographic?
Mr. Wiley: I think it was primarily geographic.
Mr. Jones: Then and now. So you were very excited when the Cubs won—did they win?
They were in the World Series.
Mr. Wiley: Nineteen forty-five but they lost.
Mr. Jones: That was the last time?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. Well they won in 1907 and ’08. As people say, anybody can have a bad
century. We’ve had hard times, but we’re always hopeful.
Mr. Jones: Weren’t the Cubs recently in the playoffs?
Mr. Wiley: They’ve been in the playoffs from time-to-time, but have never won. They
haven’t been in the World Series since 1945.
Mr. Jones: Well, you should feel right at home in Washington whose sports teams have
difficulties, except for the Redskins.
So, Winnetka High School. What else did you do in high school other than play
Mr. Wiley: Well, New Trier was an excellent school and they grouped students by, I guess,
ability level you might say—homogenous grouping—so I found myself in some
outstanding classes with excellent students. Many of them were planning to go to
Ivy League schools, and I really had no experience in that. But it was a good
opportunity to be in school with children like that.
Mr. Jones: Did you make friendships that lasted into adulthood?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, I’ve kept in touch with my class and with other people that I have known out
there. And we have an alumni organization, so to speak, and still get mailings
from them, and what have you.
Mr. Jones: (Laugh)
Mr. Wiley: I haven’t lived out there for many, many years but I think all New Trier graduates
still have an affinity with the school.
Mr. Jones: Indians’ fans, when they go back to Chicago they see high school games?
Mr. Wiley: Perhaps.
Mr. Jones: Did they change the name? You said they changed the name.
Mr. Wiley: Yes they did. For a while they were the New Trier Indians, now they’re the
Trevians. Don’t ask me what a Trevian is. Basically, after moving around a bit,
my father bought a home right across the street from New Trier so I particularly
had a feeling for the school.
Mr. Jones: Absolutely. And were there any teachers or other adult influences who were
particularly important to you in high school.
Mr. Wiley: The teacher that I remember the best was a man named Lionel Lightner who was
both my great books class teacher and the baseball coach. And he made quite an
impression on me. I say he would rank #1 in my high school influences.
MR. JONES. Did he encourage you to go to college?
Mr. Wiley: He suggested, because I was younger – I was going to get out of high school at 16
– that I might consider prep school. But I really didn’t know much about prep
schools. And I really didn’t know much about colleges to be honest with you. It
was not something I got a lot of guidance on.
Mr. Jones: Now you say a lot of your high school classmates were considering Ivy League
Mr. Wiley: Absolutely.
Mr. Jones: Did you think about applying to Ivy League schools or not?
Mr. Wiley: I really didn’t. I didn’t know where they were. I was somewhat naïve. So, I
ended up drifting into the school that was closer to where I lived which turned out
to be an excellent university, of course, Northwestern. I had always been a
Northwestern fan growing up. I was interested in athletics. I’d seen many
Northwestern games, so going to Northwestern seemed like a good deal to me.
Mr. Jones: Did you apply only to Northwestern?
MR.WILEY: I also applied to Washington of St. Louis primarily because we had lived very
briefly in St. Louis during the war years.
Mr. Jones: And at Northwestern you continued your baseball career?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, I did play varsity baseball at Northwestern. I was not a star. I want to make
that quite clear, but it was a compelling interest in my life. I would have to say
that my initial career plan was to be a high school teacher and a baseball coach. I
really patterned my thinking along the lines of what Mr. Lightner had done, only
obviously I changed my mind along the way.
Mr. Jones: Did you tell him that you wanted to be a baseball coach and a high school teacher
Mr. Wiley: Well I may have discussed that with him at some point, I don’t recall that
precisely. But he kept in touch with me while I was going to school at
Mr. Jones: So you played baseball at Northwestern. What else did you do?
Mr. Wiley: I studied a lot. I was a pretty devoted student and I think those were my primary
interests. I also had a good time like every young guy would have in school, but I
was a pretty straight-laced student, I would say.
Mr. Jones: You mentioned that neither your father nor your mother had gone to college, but
were both advocates of continued education for you.
Mr. Wiley: Yes, particularly my father.
Mr. Jones: How was the adjustment from New Trier High School to Northwestern for you?
Mr. Wiley: Not too much. I took exams as to whether I needed to take the freshmen courses
and I found that I didn’t have to do so because New Trier was such an advanced
school. And so I was in sophomore classes pretty early. That helped. It gave me
more opportunity later to take different kinds of courses.
Mr. Jones: But you were probably among the youngest people in the class.
Mr. Wiley: Yes, I was.
Mr. Jones: So you were 16 or 17. You were 16 I guess.
Mr. Wiley: Well I’d just turned 17.
Mr. Jones: Seventeen. And everybody else is 18 or 19.
Mr. Wiley: Yes. I found that particularly evident on the baseball team because a lot of people
were more mature physically and I think Mr. Lightner’s advice about going to
prep school probably would have been a good idea. But I wasn’t going to be a
superstar anyway in baseball. One day, a professor at Northwestern suggested
that I ought to go to law school and that’s something, I can tell you, I had never
thought about. I think that professor saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself
at the time.
Mr. Jones: Do you remember who it was?
Mr. Wiley: It was a man named Mr. Grow. Milton Grow.
Mr. Jones: And what did he teach?
Mr. Wiley: He taught guidance counseling and I was in the school of education, of course,
planning to be a teacher. Mr. Grow said why don’t you, over the Christmas
holidays, take some competency exams. And when I did so, he said, “Let’s not
beat around the bush, you ought to go to law school.” So the light went on, you
know. And so I took the LSATs, I did quite well on them, and this time applied
to Harvard, Yale, Michigan and Northwestern, and got admitted to all of those
schools. My plan really was to go to an Ivy League school and get away from
Chicago for a while. But Northwestern offered me a three-year scholarship and
my folks didn’t have a lot of money. Thus, I ended up going to Northwestern.
Mr. Jones: It’s not a bad school.
Mr. Wiley: It’s a very good school. And I have been quite active in the law school. I’ve been
president of the law alumni society and I gave the commencement address one
year. So I’ve had an affiliation with the school that maybe I wouldn’t have had at
Harvard. I have never regretted going to Northwestern Law School at all. But
geographically I would have liked to have gone someplace else.
Mr. Jones: When Mr. Grow suggested that you consider going to law school, did you discuss
it or did you just say okay?
Mr. Wiley: I think I was influenced by him quite a bit, and I said, “Really, Mr. Grow, I have
no experience in that. Why would you say that?” And he just said, “You have
abilities that would stand you in good stead in law school.” I was impressionable
and, you know, this was sort of a father figure who was suggesting something to
me and so I thought I would try it.
Mr. Jones: Did you know any lawyers?
Mr. Wiley: I knew some. Parents of some of my friends in Winnetka were Chicago lawyers.
Mr. Jones: Did you have a sense of what it would be like to be a lawyer? To practice law?
Mr. Wiley: I really did not.
Mr. Jones: Did you—
Mr. Wiley: But I knew that lawyers dealt with words and logic and reasoning, and those were
things I felt I had some facility with. So it seemed like a good fit to me, and when
I did well on the LSATs that was reassuring.
Mr. Jones: And off you went.
Mr. Wiley: You may have had a different experience, but I just didn’t have that background.
Mr. Jones: Well, when we finish I’ll tell you my story.
Mr. Wiley: In any case, I wasn’t sure when I took the LSAT how it was going to turn out, and
I was very pleased that it turned out as well as it did.
Mr. Jones: So you were an education major in college?
Mr. Wiley: Yes. My major was in history and political science. And I took a lot of liberal
arts and economics courses because I didn’t have to take the original freshman
Mr. Jones: When did you have this conversation with Mr. Grow?
Mr. Wiley: I think maybe my junior year, as I recall.
Mr. Jones: So you take the LSAT, you do well. You apply to four of the best schools in the
country and get into all of them—
Mr. Wiley: Right.
Mr. Jones: But Northwestern gives you the most money so you say, “I’ll stay here.”
Mr. Wiley: That’s right.
Mr. Jones: Were there particular areas that you focused on in law school?
Mr. Wiley: I don’t think you did that in those days, and I wasn’t really certain what I wanted
to do. When I got out of law school at age 22, I felt maybe I had the time to get
an MBA and combine the law degree with an MBA and think about an executive
position. So I took the GMAT.
I didn’t take any preparation for it. I just went in and took it and
surprisingly—because I don’t consider myself to be a math expert or anything like
that—I did even better than I did on the LSATs. And I got admitted to the one
business school that I applied to, and that was Harvard. And I had always kind of
wanted to go to Harvard, so I was headed to Harvard business school. But this
was in the 1950s and at that time the government was still drafting young men for
two years of basic training. In my senior year of law school a colonel from the 5th
Army Headquarters in Chicago had come around and asked some of us if we
would consider a 3-year commitment to the Army Judge Advocate General’s
Corps. I told him that was an attractive option but—Colonel Ryan, his name
was—I said, “I’m going to Harvard. I’m going to business school.” However, I
got a call from my draft board in Evanston, saying, We think you’ve had enough
education for now and we’re going to give you a low draft number and you can
expect to be drafted. So I called Colonel Ryan back and said, “You know, I’ve
changed my mind. (Laugh) If that’s still available, I’ll opt for the JAG Corps.”
And that’s exactly what happened. I got a telegram to report to basic training and
then on to the Judge Advocate General school at the University of Virginia.
Mr. Jones: We’ll come back to the JAG Corps. In law school were there any professors or
classes that you particularly enjoyed.
Mr. Wiley: What was most memorable is I got a job with a firm called Hart, Stevens &
Rothschild. And I had a chance to work with the future Justice Stevens. I still
know him. I also had Willard Wirtz who had been Secretary of Labor as a
professor, and I was very impressed with his course.
Mr. Jones: You worked with the Stevens firm in the summer?
Mr. Wiley: No, just during school.
Mr. Jones: Oh, during school. Were you a legal assistant?
Mr. Wiley: Just a legal assistant doing research. Things like that.
Mr. Jones: What was Justice Stevens like?
Mr. Wiley: He was a wonderful man. He still is. He lives out near where I do. Likes tennis
like I do.
Mr. Jones: He still plays.
Mr. Wiley: He still plays.
Mr. Jones: Remind me to tell you about that too. I have that connection as well.
Mr. Wiley: Okay, good.
Mr. Jones: Was Wirtz at the same firm or was he a teacher?
Mr. Wiley: He was a teacher at Northwestern, and I thought he was a very good one and so I
got interested in labor law. But that just shows the influence of good teachers,
you know. But I didn’t have any set view at all on an area of practice. But in my
three-and-a-half years in the JAG Corps, I became really focused on becoming a
practicing lawyer. That was really the first time I did.
Mr. Jones: Were people at Northwestern mostly from Illinois or did they come from
throughout the country?
Mr. Wiley: Today it’s very much more a national school, less so then. I think they’ve done a
great job. Dean Van Zandt, in particular, was the dean there for a long time and
he really focused on making it less of a Chicago and Illinois school and one that
has a national following. Some of my classmates were from California and
various places, but a lot of them turned out to be Chicago lawyers.
Mr. Jones: Were you particularly good friends with any of the people in your class in law
Mr. Wiley: Oh sure. I’ve maintained those relationships.
Mr. Jones: Anything else memorable happen in law school?
Mr. Wiley: (Both Laugh) During the summertime I continued my interest in playing baseball
and still continued to follow the dream, so to speak, but I was beginning to see
that I didn’t quite have the ability that would take me to where I might want to go.
Mr. Jones: Now you mentioned playing amateur baseball.
Mr. Wiley: Yes.
Mr. Jones: Did you continue that all during law school?
Mr. Wiley: Quite a bit of it.
Mr. Jones: What teams did you play for?
Mr. Wiley: The Kenosha Chiefs was one of the teams I played with around Wisconsin, and a
variety of other teams that you would never have heard of.
Mr. Jones: They are amateur leagues?
Mr. Wiley: Right. We couldn’t take payment, you know, because during college it would
impair your amateur standing. So you got meal money and that was about it. One
year I got up during the summertime over 300 times, so we were playing 5, 6
games a week.
Mr. Jones: (Laugh) But did you do that during law school?
Mr. Wiley: I did it only after the first year. Then after the second year one of my roommates
and I decided that we would take some summer courses at the University of
Colorado. James William Moore, a famous civil procedure professor, was
teaching. I thought I would get civil pro out of the way and also take another
course and see Colorado. I had never been in the West at all. I really hadn’t
traveled that much. Again, that was not something we did in those days, at least
coming from the kind of environment that I was in. It was a terrific experience,
and that was the summer I began to wean myself away from baseball.
Mr. Jones: (Laugh) And I take it that that was before the time when law students worked at
Mr. Wiley: Absolutely. I didn’t know anybody who was working.
Mr. Jones: How did you and your law school classmate get to Boulder?
Mr. Wiley: We drove.
Mr. Jones: I don’t know how long that is.
Mr. Wiley: Well, a long trip. But it was great. I hadn’t seen some of those areas, so I
enjoyed it tremendously. And Boulder, I don’t know whether you’ve been there
or not, but it’s an interesting place. It’s the foothills of the Rockies, so to speak.
And Moore was a wonderful teacher.
Mr. Jones: He ended up at Yale.
Mr. Wiley: Well he was at Yale. This was a summer program. He had the definitive treatise
in civil procedure at the time.
Mr. Jones: Was that common for law students to take extra courses during the summer?
Mr. Wiley: I don’t recall. I just thought, gee, that it would be interesting. I was single and I
didn’t have any particular obligations. My school was paid for, and it made it a
little more leisurely. You were able to take more optional courses in your senior
year—seminars, so to speak.
Mr. Jones: Who was the other professor that you took at Colorado?
Mr. Wiley: You know, I don’t recall. I’m blanking on what the course was now, but it was
not particularly memorable.
Mr. Jones: Okay. Alright. You did well in law school?
Mr. Wiley: Yes.
Mr. Jones: Thought Mr. Grow must have been right?
Mr. Wiley: Well, who knows. (Both laugh) But certainly he had an impact on my life. I
would say he would be one of the two men who had the most impact on my life.
We’ll get to the other one down the road, you know.
Mr. Jones: So, if you hadn’t met Mr. Grow, and Mr. Grow hadn’t suggested going to law
school, what do you think you’d be doing?
Mr. Wiley: Well, I might have been a teacher. I was in the school of education and I really
was enjoying teaching. I ended up teaching law school for eight years. I also
have taught courses in communications around here at night from time-to-time.
So, I’ve got a natural proclivity for that kind of activity. But Grow was a
particularly impressive man who had a wide background in business and worked
for General Electric. He came with some authority when he said things. And I
was young, so somebody saying that to me, it made an impression.
Mr. Jones: Now what did he teach? Oh, he was a guidance counselor.
Mr. Wiley: Guidance counselor.
Mr. Jones: Alright. So, you graduate from law school, still young
Mr. Wiley: Why not get an MBA then? Right. That was the decision. I should go get an
But I just went in and took the GMAT and the results were kind of
stunning to me. But it did get me into Harvard business school. And I was
definitely planning to go. I still think the combination would have been quite
Mr. Jones: Oh, no. Absolutely. But the draft board had another plan for you.
Mr. Wiley: Yes. They said if you got to age 24, you didn’t have to be drafted. I think that’s
what they told me. And they said, We think you’re trying to avoid the draft. And
I said, “No, that’s really not my purpose.” It really was an educational purpose.
And I sketched my career plan for them—to a very skeptical audience I might
Mr. Jones: Oh, I’m sure.
Mr. Wiley: And they rejected it and said, Our plan is that you should expect to be drafted. So
two years as an enlisted man against three years as an officer in the legal area—it
was an easy decision. I think we had about 60 people in the JAGC class, and they
told us part way through you’ll get your choice of assignments depending on how
well you do in school. I was a bachelor and I kind of wanted to go to
Washington, DC. So I worked hard and got my choice of assignments basically.
I chose the Pentagon and the government appellate division. I worked on appeals
from general courts martials, which were the serious crimes. My job was to
sustain the conviction on appeal. Down the hallway was a group, many of them
my classmates from the JAG school, who were in defense appellate. And their
job was to try to find holes in the decisions below. And so we would write
opposing briefs and face off before boards of review at the Pentagon, and also in
the Court of Military Appeals—COMA, as it was called then. I think now it’s the
United States Court for the Armed Services, or something like that. So, there I
was, fresh out of law school, twenty-three years old maybe, arguing cases before
federal judges with black robes. It was kind of intimidating. After a while you
did get used to it.
But then 1960 came and John F. Kennedy was elected president. And the
decision was made, for reasons I don’t know, but to reduce the number of line
JAG officers in the Pentagon and keep only one lieutenant-level person, and I was
selected. And they said to me, We’re going to transfer you from government
appellate—I’d spent a year and a half or so doing that kind of work—and we’re
going to put you in legal assistance. You are going to be the legal assistance
officer for the Pentagon. We’re going to give you a private office and we want
you to wear a suit. By the way, I only had one suit, and so I said, “I’d like to wear
my uniform some time because I was counting on that.” (Both laugh)
Over the next two years, I saw 5,000 clients. They were mostly officers,
all the way up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but also enlisted men and dependents.
Fortunately, the Pentagon had a very good law library, and so I found myself
down there trying to bone up on a lot of the subjects I had to know. Now the
subjects weren’t great constitutional law issues of the day, they were primarily the
run-of-the-mill type work a small town lawyer—maybe, say, from Peoria—would
be doing. But for me it was a tremendously rewarding and maturing experience
because I had to deal with all kinds of people. And, I had to be Johnny-on-thespot because I was scheduled as tight as I have ever been in my legal career. All
day long with appointments every fifteen minutes or half an hour.
Mr. Jones: And you did that for about two-and-a-half years?
Mr. Wiley: About two years. I’d spent a year-and-a-half in the appellate division. So I
thought it was a very good combination but I also wondered what my classmates
were doing in Chicago and thought they’re working on probably pretty big,
complex matters for big law firms. Here I am drafting wills, talking about
divorces, real estate deals, small contracts, and what have you. And I just
wondered how am I going to match up when I go back to Chicago, which was
definitely my plan. My folks were older and I definitely wanted to go home.
So I decided to get a master’s degree of law at night at Georgetown. And
I also started writing articles on military law for the Federal Bar Association
publication. One day I got a call from somebody at the ABA who had seen one of
those articles in Chicago and said, you know, We’d like you to write an article for
the Young Lawyers Speak—specifically, on the voir dire process.
Well I had never selected a jury in my life but I thought this was going to
be a pretty good opportunity. I didn’t want to say no, so I went down to the law
library again, read a lot of books on the voir dire process, and decided on an
article entitled “50 thoughts on selecting a jury.” I don’t know what happened but
I must have been miscounted because when it came out in print I was just shocked
when I saw the title: “49 thoughts on selecting a jury.” My editors liked it and
requested similar articles on direct examination and after that on crossexamination. None of these subjects were in my knowledge base, I can assure
you. (Both laugh) But I repaired once again down to the law library, did the same
process, and produced 49 thoughts on direct examination and cross-examination.
And they are laughable now in a way, but I saw myself reading those humble
articles in state bar publications for the next few years.
As a result of all this, I was asked to be the editor of the publication, and
later, Chairman of the Young Lawyers Section of the ABA which turned out to be
very important to my career. In all, I tried to make the most of my years in the
Mr. Jones: Was your plan to go back to Chicago to work at a big firm?
Mr. Wiley: Yes, that’s what I wanted.
Mr. Jones: What were big firms in those days?
Mr. Wiley: Big firms in those days? I think the firm I ultimately joined had 40 people. But
that was one of the larger firms in town at the time. Meanwhile, my personal life
was changing. I went to church one morning and met a lovely Arlington school
teacher and it worked very well between us. And after a year of courtship or
something, we got married. And during the Pentagon years, we had our first
child. Then, in June of 1962 we moved to Chicago and I started practicing law
I was interested in litigation primarily at that point, and I chose a firm that
specialized in antitrust/trade regulation work. It was Chadwell Keck Kayser
Ruggles & McLaren. And Dick McLaren was the partner for whom I worked
mostly, and he later became head of the antitrust division at DOJ. And that’s part
of the story also.
When I got back to Chicago and started working I felt like it would be
good to hone my legal skills by teaching legal writing and research. Northwestern
and Chicago didn’t have night school divisions. I went over to John Marshall
Law School which was a couple blocks from 135 South LaSalle where I was
practicing with the Chadwell firm. And I asked the dean there if he could use a
legal writing and research teacher. I got there just before school was going to
open and he said, We’ve got it all filled, but do you happen to know torts because
our torts teacher just died.” And, of course, did I happen to know torts (laugh)?
No, but I said, “Sure.” I said, “I’d be happy to teach that course.”
I managed to stay ahead of my classes somehow during the first semester,
and for seven-and-a-half years, all the time I was in Chicago during that period, I
taught night law school before catching the train to go out to the suburbs. I
worked during the daytime and I’d teach that class at night. Along the way the
Viet Nam war came and my classes grew from 35 to over 100. (Laugh). And the
only thing that was interesting about that is that for years and years thereafter I
would run into people out here who’d say, “I took your course in torts.” So it was
kind of amusing.
During this same period, I began to get into local Republican politics.
My dad was a Republican. If you were a small businessman from Peoria
at the time, you’d probably be a Republican, you know. And this came at the
same time when I became Chairman of the Young Lawyers Section. When the
1968 election began, the Nixon folks called me and asked if I could suggest some
young lawyers who might work in the campaign. The people I recommended
were well-received. As a result, I was invited to go down to the Republican
Convention in Miami and, later, to take a position in the campaign.
So I took a leave of absence from my job, moved temporarily to DC and
worked at the Willard Hotel, which was then sort of in a state of disrepair. That’s
where the United Citizens for Nixon/Agnew was located which was primarily an
adjunct of the campaign to interest independents in being involved. I worked
pretty hard and thought maybe I might get a position in the new administration.
But nothing happened. I really had no contacts with any top persons in the
Nixon administration. So I went back to Chicago, made partner in my law firm,
moved to a different house and basically forgot about it. However, this is where a
second man who had a great influence on my life entered the scene. George Bell
was a retired real estate executive who worked with me at the Willard. George
took a liking to me for some reason. And he said, “If anybody should ever get a
job in the administration, it ought to be you.” And I said, “Well George, it didn’t
happen. I’m back to Chicago.” But every once in a while he would call me in
Chicago and say, “How would you like to be working in the Arms Control
Disarmament Agency or at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.” And I said,
“George, I’ve made partner now, I’m heading in a different direction, I have a
wife and a couple of kids. I’ve got to concentrate on what I’m doing. It was a
dream but it’s not happening.” However, I also said, “If you ever get something
in Federal Trade Commission I might have some interest.”
One day he called up and said, “When could you come down to see
Chairman Weinberger”—Caspar Weinberger was the Chairman of the Federal
Trade Commission—and I said, “Well, now you’re talking. What about
tomorrow?” So he lined up an appointment for me to meet Caspar Weinberger
and we hit it off well. By that time I was a partner and I was 35 years old. I
wasn’t just going to come down here unless I really saw it was going to be worth
my while. Weinberger talked about the possibility of my being head of the
Bureau of Consumer Protection, which was a terrific job. The general counsel
position was what I was hoping for, but that was filled. So when George was
driving me back to National Airport he said, “What do you think.” And I said,
“Well, I think this is really good. But I’d really like to be general counsel.” And
he said, “Well there’s a general counsel’s position over at the FCC.” I had to
think for a minute – FCC: Federal Communications Commission. He said, “Why
don’t you come back next week and I’ll get you an appointment with Dean Burch
who’s the Chairman of the FCC.” My wife was wondering, What are you doing?
But I went back and told Dean Burch that I had no experience in communications.
I knew regulatory agency work, but not the FCC. He said, “Dick McLaren (who
by that time was head of the antitrust division) said you’re great and I think I’d be
interested in talking to you. I’m going to keep the existing general counsel on my
staff.” That was the guru of communications law, Henry Geller, and I thought at
the time he’s going to be on your staff and I’m going to be this junior grade
general counsel. That might not be the best job security. But Burch offered me
the job a couple weeks later and I took it.
That was the turning point of my professional career I would have to say —
to be general counsel at age 35, 36 years old. Once again, I left my wife and kids
in Chicago and moved down here. All day I’d work at the FCC and at night I’d
go into the library and try to read everything I could on communications law. I
had two big advantages: one, Geller had had a terrific staff and they were very
decent and helped me to get up to speed and, number two, the field wasn’t as
complex as it is today. You basically had broadcasting, telephone and telegraph.
So I, was able to learn a lot in those three months. And then my family joined
me. You said three stages. We’re at the end of the first stage.
Mr. Jones: Alright. Terrific.