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December 3, 2007


Jack Bray has played a part in so many notorious cases that a whole section of his shelves features books about them.   One of those is The Informant, the wild-but-true account of an FBI investigation into corporate giant Archer Daniels Midland that gave rise to the conviction of Jack’s client, ADM vice chairman Mick Andreas, on price-fixing charges.  The book is now being turned into a movie starring Matt Damon, with shooting scheduled to start in April.  Bisnow headed straight over to King & Spalding for a chat with Jack before more Hollywood agents jam his phone lines.

Another book on Jack’s shelves is All the President’s Men.  Jack represented Gordon Strachan, the only White House official indicted but not convicted in the Watergate cover-up.  Jack “played the nuances of the immunity laws with the skill of a concert violinist” for his client, according to Stonewall: The Real Story of the Watergate Prosecution, by Richard Ben-Veniste and George Frampton, Jr. 

Damon will play Mark Whitacre, former President of ADM’s Bioproducts Division, who for two years secretly taped meetings and conversations in which ADM and its foreign competitors conspired to fix the price of lysine, an animal feed additive.  Whitacre is reportedly the highest-ranking executive ever to become an FBI informant.  An ideal witness, or so it seemed . . . until lawyers at Williams & Connolly (who represented ADM) discovered he’d been embezzling millions from the company. 

The book was written by star business journalist Kurt Eichenwald, a former NY Times reporter and 2000 Pulitzer finalist, who called Jack with news that the book was headed for the big screen.  Eichenwald asked who Jack wanted to play himself.  Jack’s response:  “I just hope it’s not Mr. Bean.”


Too bad they can’t cast a young Jack Palance in the role—we think he’s a pretty good fit for Jack’s lawyerly look. 

Send your casting suggestions for Jack or Reid Weingarten of Steptoe (who represented Terry Wilson, another ADM division president convicted of price fixing) to Steven Soderbergh, who is signed on to direct the picture.

Jack’s office looks onto the same stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue from which he watched JFK’s funeral procession.  He started out as a trial attorney in the Honors Program under Attorney General Bobby Kennedy.  One of Jack’s fond memories is the time Bobby called Jack and a few other prosecutors into his office to talk shop over a case of Budweiser.  (Strangely, Jack offered only non-alcoholic beverages during our interview.)  During one of his first assignments in the AG’s office—an investigation of violence at the University of Mississippi after its integration—Jack tells us he drew the duty of interviewing the beauties on its Sorority Row. 

Jack came to King & Spalding 10 years ago, after 20 years at his own boutique of “eclectic trial lawyers,” which included the legendary Earl Silbert.  He lives about 6 blocks away from the apartment he rented in Cleveland Park when he first arrived in Washington back in 1962.  Jack and his wife got to design their house, built on property that housed an old National Cathedral School dormitory that had gone to seed.  The house-building process involved thousands of tiny decisions, but Jack says that he and his wife agreed on “every single one of them.” 

He may or may not have given us a wink as he said this.

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