Boies: Good to have on our side

With the start of the Prop 8 case in California, I’m finding that my optimism is elevated by the choice of our counsel.  David Boies and Ted Olson are leading the cause.  The pairing of the two is a pretty interesting occurrence.  These two were formerly opponents in the Bush v Gore case after the 2000 elections.

in the public discussion, with all the bitterness and acrimony during that case, you would think that the folks on either side would never be able to cooperate with each other in the future.  Instead, two leaders, from opposing sides, have united to pursue a goal.  Of all things, that goal is to overturn Prop 8 and restore the ability of gays and lesbians in California to marry.

The idea that such former adversaries can unite and cooperate provides an example of reconciliation that gives me hope that people can cooperate for the good of the country.  Ultimately, if we are ever to make progress in our democracy all sides need to help.

Aside from this somewhat mushy "lets all work together" stuff, Boies has been involved in some interesting cases.  The one that is closest to me is his role representing the US Government against Microsoft.  Among Microsoft employees, Boies is often regarded as a bitter enemy.  Bill Gates famously said that Boies was "out to destroy the company."  So in the Microsoft LGBT friendly community it’s an example of switching from a deep dislike, to rooting for him to succeed.

Also interesting in that case was the fact that the democratic administrations such as Clinton’s were viewed as more of a danger to the company than a republican one.  When Bush took office, there was a sense of optimism that the government would be more friendly.  

Boies was very successful in his work on that case.  He succeeded in getting a judgment against Microsoft and a the relief ordered was a breakup of the company.  That scenario was such an unthinkably catastrophic situation, that people were in disbelief.

Ultimately that relief was appealed and the company remains a single entity today.  However, a huge chunk of the company now operates with fairly oppressive compliance regulation.  Windows and certain related teams must perform much additional work to document interfaces, protocols and other things to the satisfaction of some pretty picky people.  The later trials in the EU have added to that workload.

As a result, Microsoft’s ability to keep pace with innovation is hampered.   Of course, for those who were hoping for a judgment against Microsoft, this is a good thing.  Now there is less chance that the behavior which was judged to be improper can happen.

Years prior, Boies was part of the team that represented IBM in it’s defense against a similar anti-trust suit brought by the DOJ.  In that case he was working from the opposite position as the Microsoft case.

Having someone who has experience in seeing an issue from both sides is a huge benefit.  As far as the Prop 8 case goes, the lesson is that Boies is serious business, and the other side should be appropriately worried.

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