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      In Smell Test, seasoned business lawyer and author Jim Freund has created a unique and compelling book for lawyers of all ages and experience levels. He entertains the reader with ten fictional short stories about business lawyers who find themselves facing challenging situations challenges they sometimes rise to yet often come up short.

      After each story there is a detailed commentary, in which the author analyzes the key actions taken the crucial decisional points faced by the fictional lawyers. The essential questions are then posed for the reader: Do you approve of what Jack did at this juncture: If not, why not? What would you have done instead? It's an invaluable exercise for anylawyer testing his or her judgment on how to deal with thorny situations that face business lawyers.

      Jim Freund then explains in detail how he would have handled the particular situation applying to these difficulties the good judgment honed over a lifetime of practical experience. And he offers valuable advice about the larger lawyering issues involved. The book explores the numerous conflicts that a business lawyer faces: lawyer-to-lawyer, often at the negotiating table, between lawyer and client (or prospective client); and inside the law firm between partners, or partners and associates. Some of the most wrenching conflicts take place within the lawyer's mind, as his better and baser instincts wrestle over how to handle a sticky situation.

      A number of the tales in Smell Test have an ethical issue on the core, such as a lawyer deciding whether his firm should take on some questionable (but profitable) new business. Some of the most sensitive moments involve a lawyer agonizing over the implications of telling the truth. Several stories deal extensively with negotiating lawyers strategizing and bargaining over deal terms, facing difficult choices along the way.

      Reading Smell Test is a great way to help you improve your lawyering skills and understand how to deal with similar situations while being entertained by the lively adventures of your fictional brethren. It also provides valuable primary materials for conducting training programs and professional seminars.


Comments on Smell Test

“Jim Freund has done it again. This time he has written a lawyer’s how-to-do-it series of fictional short stories about a firm of lawyers confronting situations raising issues of judgment that are illustrative of real-life legal practice. Each story is followed by a perceptive discussion of what went wrong, or right, and how the situation should have been handled. Only a lawyer of Jim’s wide experience, great judgment and keen sense for avoiding problems could write this book. Only a person with Jim’s sense of humor and story telling skills could combine fiction and practical advice into the compelling “read” that is Smell Test.”

Martin Lipton, founding partner, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz


“The Manhattan law firm Jenkins & Price forms the stage for dramas of professional and human conflicts, angst, fear, greed, courage and – yes, even nobility – stories of business lawyers facing difficult moments in their lives and careers. Whether it’s Dwight Bentley agonizing whether he should follow his ethical instincts which might deny his firm lucrative business, Dan Barton trying to explain what he does for a living to his twelve year old, Paul Garson churning over the firm’s partnership decisions, Jack Lawrence confronting the possibility that he has unwittingly sponsored false testimony, new partner Ted Ashburn cushioning the counterproductive bombast of pompous senior partner Ralph Landry, Alex Gibson literally cleaning up a client’s mess in the men’s room or Elliot Cheever dealing with the stinky associate and the gamey one or the other lawyers he writes about, Jim Freund tells stories that not only ring true but illustrate the dilemmas that lawyers face daily. These are the problems they don’t teach you about in law school.”

“Freund tells his stories with zest, in compelling plots told from many vantage points. Then he follows up with commentaries or the lessons to be drawn from the stories. These reveal facets of the stories and the problems that did not occur to the reader, and provide the insights  of a wise and insightful practitioner of the first rank.”

“In all, Smell Test is a masterful achievement that should be read by lawyers, young and old – for although the characters change, the contexts very and outcomes differ, the problems Freund writes about are both old and new. They renew continuously. Freund has written the casebook for actually practicing our profession.”

– The Honorable Vaughn Walker, U.S. District Court Judge, San Francisco


“I’d like to think that when The Bard, in his Henry VI, called for the swift extermination of the legal profession, he would likely have granted a pardon to counselor and fellow-wordsmith Jim Freund, whose canny writings about business law have long enlightened practitioners and clients alike. The stories that form the core of Smell Test make for both engaging and instructive reading as they usher us behind the scenes to witness struggles of conscience and judgment at a high-stakes law office. And Freund’s side commentaries offer non-preachy guidance for any of us – whether inside the legal field or vested onlookers – who from time to time lose our way in the thickets of conflicting values and could use his moral compass to find the right way out.”

Richard Kluger, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Simple Justice


“This is an ideal book for law students wishing to better understand the profession they will be entering; it is also an entertaining, mind-opening work for everyone who cares about the ethics of legal practice and the law. Jim Freund was written a graceful, sophisticated, wise, and deeply satisfying book.”

– Harvey Goldschmidt, Dwight Professor of Law, Columbia University; former Commisioner, SEC


“By any measure, this is a hugely entertaining and enlightening collection that will appeal not only to lawyers, but to the general reading public as well – of which I am a proud member.”

 – Bruce Jay Friedman, novelist, playwright, and author of five short story collections


“Leave it to Jim Freund to both entertain and educate us through a series of amazingly realistic short stories that illustrate the challenges confronting deal lawyers. Perhaps most important, the stories accomplish the hardest task of all – teaching young lawyers how to exercise good judgment.”

– Franci Blassberg, partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLC


“Jim Freund, with his profound understanding of lawyers, has given us a unique perspective into the world of contemporary law firms. Smell Test is interesting and insightful and a must read for business lawyers in private practice or in corporate law departments.

– Dennis S. Hersch, President, N.A. Property, Inc., director, Limited Bands, Inc.


“I think I have read every one of Jim Freund’s books that advise the best of lawyers how to handle the tricky, ticklish issues they confront every day. This one is even better because these are his own imagined hypotheticals illustrating a variety of issues, lessons and best practices. The wisdom in universal. It is just as helpful and applicable in a company law department as it was to me as a young law firm associate just out of law school. Indeed, it spoke volumes to me as a mature law firm partner. Best of all the stories are as engaging and entertaining as they are instructive. Jim is a true talent in the world of lawyering.

– Michael Schell, Executive Vice President – Business Development and Law, Alcoa


This book can be purchased through the American Bar Association website, (discounts for multiple purchases can be arranged with Anne Geron of the ABA at or 312-988-6107), This book is also available at, and at Crawford and Doyle Booksellers (Tel. 212-288-6300 email: