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]


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