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The Independence Principle

One of Frank Ginn's most important principles was that the Firm must maintain its freedom and independence to turn down any representation. Marvin Bower was a Jones Day associate before becoming a founder of McKinsey, the well-known management consulting firm. He said that one of the most memorable lessons he learned during his early professional life was the value of institutional independence, as taught to him by Frank Ginn. As one example, Ginn once turned down a significant merger engagement because he was convinced it was the result of investment bankers pushing something that could never be accomplished. The banker said he would take the case to another law firm; when Ginn turned the representation down, he promptly did so. The other firm litigated the matter for an extensive period of time and ultimately lost. Ginn’s initial position was well known at the Firm at the time; once the case was lost, it became known to much of the Cleveland business community as well. The decision to decline the representation had clear short term economic consequences for the Firm but, as Bower himself later expressed it, "if you are not willing to take pain to live by your principles, there is no point in having principles."

Ginn's independence was recalled years later when Jones Day partner H. Chapman Rose refused the representation of President Nixon in the presidential tapes case because of Nixon’s refusal to let his lawyers listen to the tapes. As the Firm has grown, its foundational values of integrity, dedication to client service, Firm independence, a Managing Partner with authority to act for the Firm, and the principle that all clients be treated as clients of the entire Firm, have survived intact from the traditions established at the time of Frank Ginn.

During this time, the Firm was involved in numerous reorganizations and recapitalization projects required by the impact of the Great Depression and the 1933 bank crisis. It represented Cyrus Eaton’s Otis & Company as the underwriter in the 1930 formation of Republic Steel, which remained a long-time client through its merger with Jones & Laughlin and the subsequent bankruptcy of the combined firm some half-century later. Jones Day also represented The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in lengthy litigation with the Federal Trade Commission concerning the legality under the antitrust laws of the pricing of tire contracts with Sears, Roebuck and Co. The case was said to be a major impetus for the passage of the Robinson Patman Anti-Price Discrimination Act, and the contract with Sears was terminated because of the new legislation. The FTC continued to pursue the case, however, and eventually the Sixth Circuit held that the type of pricing arrangement Goodyear had with Sears prior to 1936, and prior to the passage of the Robinson Patman Act, was legal under the antitrust laws.