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Law And More: Much of Power Operates on a Stealth Basis


“… the most powerful person in the banking industry, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon …”

That’s the assessment of three Bloomberg journalists in an article about the troubled retail sector. 

Wouldn’t it have been more objective – and perhaps accurate – to write that he is among the most powerful in the banking industry? Not the closed-system phrase “the most powerful?”

There are myriad power players in Big Banking. There are those not directly in the industry who also affect it significantly.

Some of them in both categories unleash the high-impact kinds of decisions on a stealth basis. That is, they operate behind the scenes.

That reach is equivalent to the invisible power brokers in politics who are the real kingmakers. Very few know who they are. I have analyzed that phenomenon on the political system of my hometown: pre-gentrified Jersey City, New Jersey. The controlling Hague Machine in the 1950s and beyond had many secret moving parts. That generated the old survival adage in that old-line urban area: You don’t know who they know. Watch it.

The insider game of influence, of course, relies on identifying who is really in charge. Of course, not often is it the professional with the title. Before accepting a position or even an assignment the common question is: Who is really calling the shots? You know to play in that force field.

It’s really no newsflash: Webs of global influence – in every industry as well as non-profits – are quite complex.

That includes Big Law. Although I have been covering some law firms for years it took standing back, opening the hood, and just poking around with questions to notice the points of connection with the institutions and players of most use to them.

In my recent retainer relationship with law firm Paul Weiss for communications services, I perceived myself being locked out of the overlay of influence. Since I have ghostwritten for powerful leaders, both in title and in a more indirect way, I was disappointed. But perhaps that period of time was jam-packed with the firm’s revenue-producing work and emergencies and it was impossible to focus on how I could create value for the firm. Maybe.

During the two months before I pulled the plug, the middleman on that Luke Ferrandino didn’t give me one actual assignment. On June 1st, the day I resigned, he did give me one: Provide analytics of my blog posts and the repurposing on social networks..

About those blog posts and repurposings: Unmoored and scared I grabbed onto dreaming up what I could post about that law firm on my two blogs and social networks. Pony up the analytics on that cooked-up work? That was the assignment?

In addition, what was confusing was this: There was no NDA for me to sign. There was no contract specifying my duties.

I remained puzzled.

Influence is an economy of scarcity. Given that reality, perhaps I was naive to anticipate that I would have move-the-dial assignments to do. Maybe only now am I getting it: I was not a player in that sandbox. And I was not going to be one.

Last night I accepted an offer from a financial firm for part-time contract editing work. The objective was for me to edit content in ways that will increase its influence. Maybe I am back on my game. Time will tell.

Connect with Editor-in-Chief Jane Genova at janegenova374@gmail.com. She helps businesses conjure up magic in their storytelling. One client said, “She makes shipping containers ‘sexy.’”


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