If you’re like us, you read the New York Times wedding announcements religiously every week. It’s one of the most addictive forms of résumé porn. Consider the trenchant analysis of David Brooks:
The wedding page is a weekly obsession for thousands of Times readers and aspiring Victor Hugos. Unabashedly elitist, secretive (believe me, I’ve tried to get information out of the page’s editors), and therefore totally honest, the “mergers and acquisitions page” — as many of its devotees call it — has always provided an accurate look at an important chunk of the American ruling class. And over the years it has reflected the transformation of the American establishment….
[As the WASP elite has declined,] a new elite has coalesced, and it is found — as much as anywhere — on the wedding page of the New York Times. Whereas the old establishment was based on birth and breeding, this new establishment rests on education and career.
And what educations! What careers! Reading the Times wedding page and secretly comparing yourself to all the featured brides and grooms is a recipe for depression.
Well, we’re here to help. Each week we’ll read the Times wedding page, so you don’t have to. We’ll pick out selected marriages involving members of the legal profession and offer colorful commentary on them. Think of it as like the Veiled Conceit blog, but centered on lawyers.
We’ll score each couple in three to four categories: (1) their résumés; (2) their families; (3) couple balance (how well-matched they are); and (4) beauty (but only if there’s a picture of the happy couple). We’ll average these scores to produce an overall score. The couple with the highest overall score is the winner for that week!
The inaugural installment appears after the jump.
It used to be exceedingly rare for a federal judge to leave the bench for private practice. But times are changing.
Earlier this summer, Fourth Circuit Judge J. Michael Luttig — frequently mentioned as a possible Supreme Court candidate, and the nation’s top judge when it comes to feeding his clerks into prestigious Supreme Court clerkships — surprised the legal world by flying the Article III coop. He headed off to Boeing, to assume the position of general counsel at the aerospace giant.
And now the acclaimed Southern District of New York, generally regarded as the nation’s most prestigious federal trial court, is losing its chief judge. Chief Judge Michael Mukasey is returning to the partnership of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, where he practiced before President Reagan appointed him to the bench. In addition to his partnership draw at Patterson, where profits-per-partner are in the seven figures, he’ll receive his annual judicial pension of $165,000. KA-CHING!
Mukasey will be replaced as chief judge by the luscious Kimba Wood. Judge Wood, of course, is the ex-Playboy bunny who reigns as the #1 Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary.
Judge Mukasey is known as an efficient, hardworking, and occasionally cantankerous judge. One lawyer who appeared before him describes him as someone “who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.”
Sounds like the transition to Biglaw partner will be pretty easy for Mukasey. As Judge Leaves for Law Firm, His Legacy Is Remembered [New York Sun]
Sometimes a dying person twitches and convulses violently before finally biting the big one. Such is the case with Milberg Weiss, which is showing a few final signs of life. The New York Law Journal passes along this good news for our favorite class-action complaint assembly line:
A New York judge has given a boost to Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman by appointing the embattled law firm co-lead counsel in a consolidated suit over stock-option backdating….
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Richard Lowe said in a decision dated July 13 that the firm’s indictment had no bearing on its ability to handle a batch of derivative suits on behalf of individual investors in voicemail software company Comverse Technology, Inc., whose top executives allegedly enriched themselves by almost $400 million by repricing stock option grants.
In addition, in a catty footnote, the judge took a swipe at Bernstein Litowitz, one of the firms that tried to replace Milberg Weiss as lead counsel:
Justice Lowe also said in his footnote it was “disingenuous” for Bernstein Litowitz to raise the issue of Milberg Weiss’ indictment and its impact on the Comverse matter “since the attorney representing LSERS [Bernstein's client] was himself a partner at Milberg Weiss, a member of its Management Committee, and was at Milberg Weiss when this action was commenced.”
The judge was referring to Salvatore Graziano, who announced plans to leave Milberg Weiss in March.
How Appealing reports that the Senate has just confirmed Jerome A. Holmes to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, by a vote of 67-30. The Tenth Circuit, a moderate and quasi-boring appellate court, hears appeals from six underpopulated states in the heart of flyover country.
So why is the Holmes confirmation newsworthy? For those of you who haven’t been following this story, Holmes is a highly respected, exceptionally well-credentialed attorney. Who happens to be extremely conservative. Who happens to be African-American. And who happens to be quite outspoken on a number of issues, including affirmative action — which he strongly opposes.
One of our Hill sources describes Holmes as “the next Clarence Thomas,” who has liberals running scared. Our source opines: “They [Senate Democrats] would have loved to have stopped the Holmes confirmation. But given his credentials, and the fact that he’s black, there was nothing they could do. [Sen. Arlen] Specter scheduled several hours of floor debate, basically daring the Democrats to speak out against him. This is a fight the Republicans wanted to pick.”
And in the end, it’s a fight that they won. We’ll be keeping an eye on Judge Holmes. At the young age of 45, he has at least a decade left of possible viability as a Supreme Court nominee. The U.S. Senate has confirmed Jerome A. Holmes [How Appealing]
We used to work in a U.S. attorney’s office, so we know firsthand that federal government service ain’t Fat City. Having to chip in $25 to attend a colleague’s farewell party, at a venue bearing a suspicious resemblance to a Knights of Columbus Hall, would never happen in the private sector. Law firm good-bye lunches are held at Le Bernardin and Jean-Georges. There’s a reason they call it public service.
But it seems fiscal conditions have worsened since we left government service. The Los Angeles Times reports:
At the [Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's] office in the downtown federal courthouse, basic supplies, like envelopes and binder clips, are scarce.
“It’s nickel-and-dime stuff,” said another member of the office. “If you want to fly a witness in or travel to interview someone, they’re really taking a look at that stuff now.”
Attorneys have been advised to remove microwaves and small refrigerators from their offices because high power bills have prompted their landlord, the General Services Administration, to threaten to raise the rent.
What’s next? Telling assistant U.S. attorneys that “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down”?
And it’s not just a West Coast problem. Sources also tell us that a number of U.S. Attorney’s Offices on the East Coast have unofficial hiring freezes in effect. These include the venerable Southern District of New York — the traditional “golden child” of federal prosecutors’ offices — and its neighbor across the river, the District of New Jersey. The New Jersey office has over a dozen AUSA vacancies right now, roughly ten percent of the total positions in the office.
The upshot: It’s hard out here for an AUSA.
Attorney’s Offices’ Staffing Is Decried [Los Angeles Times] Lawmakers Urge Funds for U.S. Attorneys [Washington Post]
Milberg Weiss, the plaintiffs’ side class-action factory under federal indictment, continues to fall apart before our very eyes. The former legal powerhouse, which just lost partner Christopher Jones, suffers another defection. CalLaw’s Legal Pad reports:
The most recent [departure] is William Fredericks, a New York-based partner who’s joining rival Bernstein, Litowitz, Berger & Grossman.
“We’re thankful to have a partner of Bill’s background and experience on the Bernstein Litowitz team,” Bernstein partner John “Sean” Coffey said Monday.
Milberg Weiss, the plaintiffs’ class-action mill currently under federal indictment, continues its swift disintegration. Here’s the latest news:
Indicted law firm Milberg Weiss has lost another partner. Christopher Jones announced Friday he’s leaving the firm’s Boca Raton office to join Saxena White.
Right now you’re scratching your head: “Saxena White, Saxena White… Didn’t I see one of her films when I took that due diligence trip to South Dakota, and stayed in the motel with the vibrating bed?”
But no, Saxena White isn’t a porn star — it’s a law firm:
[The] firm was founded last month by former Milberg partner Maya Saxena and associate Joseph White, who left a few weeks after the firm’s May 18 indictment.
Perhaps they split off from Milberg and started their own shop to avoid criminal liability. Or maybe they wanted a shot at winning Above the Law’s first annual contest for “Law Firm That Sounds Most Like a Porn Name.”
We never thought that immigration law — yes, immigration law, that form-dominated legal backwater in which underpaid attorneys struggle valiantly against the USCIS’s* mind-blowing incompetence — could spawn a feature film. But check this out:
Two years ago, Reed Smith associate Jayne Fleming won a Ninth Circuit appeal on behalf of a woman who had been raped by three soldiers at her home in Guatemala and was seeking asylum.
Now Fleming’s work on behalf of refugees could become the subject of a Hollywood film.
The Oakland-based lawyer says that after more than a year of talking with screenwriter James Dalessandro and producer Steve Chicorel, she signed an agreement allowing them to pitch a film about her work to financial backers.
Paging all Latina actresses who lust after gold statuettes. Salma, here’s your chance to nab the Academy Award that eluded you for Frida. Young Associate’s Crusade May Become Hollywood Film [New York Lawyer]
* “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services” is the new name of the INS, which pulled an Altria and dumped its former moniker (with all of its toxic associations).
In a web-exclusive article published yesterday — and picked up by Drudge, so tout le monde read it — Time magazine proffered this delicious tidbit:
[President Bush] is curtailing his traditional August working vacation at the ranch so that he can barnstorm before the midterm elections. Their outlook thus far seems so ominous for the G.O.P. that one presidential adviser wants Bush to beef up his counsel’s office for the tangle of investigations that a Democrat-controlled House might pursue.
This report is consistent with what we’ve heard about the staff of White House Counsel Harriet Miers. (Yes, that Harriet Miers — she of the unfortunate hairstyles and aborted Supreme Court bid.)
Here are some of the forthcoming additions to the White House Counsel staff:
* The strappingly handsome Brent J. McIntosh, currently a deputy assistant attorney general at the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy, is joining the ranks of Miers’s minions. McIntosh is replacing his Yale Law School classmate and good friend, conservative legal superstar Brett Gerry. (Gerry — a former law clerk to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, as well as a descendant of American founding father Elbridge Gerry — is taking a high-ranking post at the Justice Department’s new National Security Division.)
* Wachtell Lipton associate Kenneth Lee is leaving that renowned Manhattan sweatshop — with its killer hours and eye-popping paychecks — to join the White House Counsel’s office. Lawyers in the White House Counsel’s office work long hours. But this move might be a lifestyle improvement for the beleaguered Lee, a veteran of some of Wachtell’s grimmest cases (e.g., the Larry Silverstein/World Trade Center litigation).
Among federal appeals courts, the Sixth Circuit is legendary for the lack of collegiality — nay, outright dischord — among its members. In this respect, it is perhaps rivaled only by the Ninth Circuit.
And the Sixth Circuit’s fine tradition of internal strife and judicial cattiness continues. In an opinion issued today, the fairly liberal Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey — mentioned back in 2000 as a possible Al Gore Supreme Court pick — delivered this bench-slap to her staunchly conservative colleague, Chief Judge Danny J. Boggs:
I write separately in order to express my dismay at Judge Boggs’s unjustified attack directly on both the capital defense bar and indirectly on the members of this court. For the chief judge of a federal appellate court to state that it is “virtually inevitable” that “any mildly-sentient defense attorney” would consider playing the equivalent of Russian roulette with the life of a client is truly disturbing. Such a comment is an affront to the dedication of the women and men who struggle tirelessly to uphold their ethical duty to investigate fully and present professionally all viable defenses available to their clients. It also silently accuses the judges on this court of complicity in the alleged fraud by countenancing the tactics outlined.
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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