April 2014

howard dean young man.jpg* Who is the hottest dean? Your nominations are needed.
(At right: A portrait of Howard Dean as a young man. Seriously.)
* Who is the Paris Hilton of the federal judiciary?
* Are you a professor at a private law school? If so, how much money do you make?
* Why are those Florida judges always getting themselves into trouble?
* It’s interview season — for law firm jobs, judicial clerkships, etc. Do you know the do’s and don’ts of interviewing?
* Legal Eagle Wedding Watch: It’s a tie!
* Congratulations to Alice Fisher and Ken Wainstein, who were (finally) confirmed by the Senate as, respectively, heads of the DOJ’s Criminal Division and National Security Division.
* Outstanding Discovery Requests: Handicapping the Race to Partnership, Skaddenfreude (Academic Salaries), Internal Memos.

Some random reading recommendations, which don’t have much to do with law. But that’s what weekends are for, right?
* Suffering from Entourage withdrawal? Read about a real-life agent dumping (by Jim Carrey). [Defamer]
* Suffering from Project Runway withdrawal, since there was no new episode this week? Get your hands on the New Yorker’s fantastic fashion issue. The profile of Diane von Furstenberg — by Larissa MacFarquhar, who once profiled Judge Richard Posner — is especially worthwhile. So is Andrea Lee’s article about high-end handbags (“The Bag Lady”). [New Yorker (table of contents; most articles not online)]
* Suffering from Harriet Miers withdrawal? Head over to the blog of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston. Then run a search (ctrl-F) for “LOL.” [Cardinal Seán’s Blog via New York Times]

porno judge.JPGOkay, maybe he should be “Judge of Yesterday,” since this was in yesterday’s paper (and was picked up by How Appealing yesterday too). But it’s Saturday, and we’re still working hard to entertain you, so stop your quibbling.

A judge who repeatedly viewed pornography on the computer in his chambers apologized Friday after receiving a public reprimand from the Florida Supreme Court for violating judicial ethics.

Circuit Judge Brandt C. Downey III of Clearwater told the high court he was “sorry” after Chief Justice R. Fred Lewis called his conduct “truly shocking” and an embarrassment to his friends, his family, the judiciary and the citizens of Florida.

It may have been, er, somewhat imprudent for Judge Downey to check out porn in chambers. But at the risk of sounding like libertines, we have to ask: What’s the big deal? Millions of Americans enjoy pornography.
As for the workplace aspect, we say: If he’s keeping up with his judicial workload, who cares about de minimis use of his computer for, um, other activities? Is it that different from, say, making flight arrangements online for your Hawaiian vacation, while on your lunch break?
To put it another way: What’s wrong with a judge admitting he shares something in common with at least 14 percent of American men? (A figure that’s surely on the low side, due to the study’s reliance upon self-reporting.)
What’s next? Judges getting censured for banging their own gavels? What century are we living in? Or, for that matter, what country — a theocracy?

[At the hearing, Judge Downey] added that he believes God has forgiven him. He said his family and friends also have forgiven him and urged him to seek re-election, but he declined to avoid further embarrassment and publicity, Downey said.

So we don’t think judicial porn viewing is such a big deal. These allegations are far more problematic:

Downey allegedly showed inordinate interest in a young state attorney, asking her to approach the bench to tell her that she “looked nice today.”

He also was accused of asking another female lawyer to approach the bench for personal conversation and sending her an e-mail saying “it was nice seeing u in court looking so pretty.”

“What were you thinking?” Lewis asked.

Using “u” instead of “you” in an email? Now THAT warrants censure.
(Final observation: What is up with these Florida state court judges? See Wednesday’s Judge of the Day.)
Judge Apologizes, Gets Reprimand for Viewing Porn in Chambers [Associated Press via How Appealing]
Earlier: Judge of the Day: Richard Albritton Jr.

patek philippe.jpg* “Bless him Father, for he has sinned”: Msgr. John Woolsey made some unauthorized withdrawals from his church’s collection plate, which he blew on golf vacations and Rolex watches. (Monsignor: A Rolex is so unoriginal. Why not, say, a nice Patek Philippe?) [Judicial Reports]
* Newly confirmed Tenth Circuit judge Neil M. Gorsuch — a member of the Elect, former partner at the super-elite Kellogg Huber firm, and former Principal Deputy to the Associate Attorney General — has a new book out. It’s entitled The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. We have no idea what it says; but it was probably smart of him to get confirmed before it was published. [How Appealing]
* Planning a trip to Ireland? Law professor William Birdthistle has some recommendations for you. [Forbes]
* Gov. Jon Corzine’s picks for the New Jersey Supreme Court have cool names: James Zazzali, nominated to be the next Chief Justice, and Helen Hoens, nominated to fill Zazzali’s vacated seat. We support Judge Hoens’s nomination, ’cause we’re suckers for alliteration. And assonance, too. [New York Times]
* This is a long and juicy article; we’ll probably blog more about it later. For now, some key terms to whet your appetite: insider trading, ballroom dancing, trips to Cuba, BMWs, strippers. Oh, and a forklift operator. Don’t forget the forklift operator. [Fortune via WSJ Law Blog]

ken wainstein kenneth wainstein kenneth l wainstein.jpgOkay, so he’s no Alice Fisher — the ball-busting, badass blonde, recently confirmed to head the DOJ’s Criminal Division, who has white-collar criminals shaking in their boots. But he’s still a highly regarded attorney — and pretty cute, too.
So ATL sends its congratulations to Kenneth L. Wainstein, just confirmed by the Senate as assistant attorney general for the Department’s brand-new National Security Division (NSD). Previously Wainstein served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
The Wall Street Journal — which criticized the Democrats for holding up Wainstein’s nomination 4-evah — describes Ken Wainstein’s new job as follows:

Mr. Wainstein is waiting to fill a new post recommended in last year’s Robb-Silberman report to further break down the “wall” between intelligence and law enforcement. The new post would bring Justice’s counterespionage, counterintelligence and wiretapping units under one Assistant AG. Mr. Wainstein would also be the law enforcement world’s primary liaison with the intelligence community.

President Bush approved the change, Congress authorized it while renewing the Patriot Act earlier this year, and Mr. Wainstein’s offices are humming with computers. All that’s missing is a leader.

Letting Wainstein go through was a smart move for the Democrats. We’re no political strategists, but we do know this much: With an election just a few weeks away, it’s unwise for the Democrats to hold up the nomination of someone with the words “National Security” in his title.
Wainstein, by the way, is putting together a real A-team of legal talent over at the NSD, including several members of the Elect. As we previously reported, one of them is conservative legal superstar Brett Gerry — the Silbermaniac and former Kennedy clerk, who was associate general counsel to the Robb-Silberman commission. Also onboard: John Demers (O’Scannlain/Scalia), the affable legal genius who previously did a tour of duty with the Office of Legal Counsel (which works on many national security issues).
So congrats again to Ken Wainstein. And best of luck to his band of brainiacs, as they tackle some of the toughest issues facing our nation.
Kenneth Wainstein bio [WhiteHouse.gov]
Gonzales Statement on Confirmation of Ken Wainstein as Assistant Attorney General for National Security Division [DOJ Press Release]
Security Holdup [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]
Earlier: Congratulations to Alice Fisher!
The White House Counsel’s Office: Here Comes the Cavalry

stephen breyer in track suit.JPGLately you haven’t been sending many legal celebrity sightings our way. C’mon, guys — we know you can do better. If you harbor doubt as to who constitutes a “legal celebrity” in our book, please review this post.

Due to your delinquency, we’ll have to resort to some rather hoary sightings. Here’s the first, inspired by our recent post about legal hotshots chowing down:

As for food sightings, I hear that Leonard Leo has his own wine locker at Morton’s. One day this past summer, he was there and Miguel Estrada was in the next booth.

For those of you outside the Beltway, Leonard Leo is Grand Poobah of the Federalist Society — ringmaster of the good Senatrix’s “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Miguel Estrada — aka “the kid from Teguicalpa” — is the brilliant Latino lawyer, and former nominee to the celestial D.C. Circuit, who is often talked about as a possible SCOTUS nominee (in a Republican administration).

And what do great legal minds do to work off all those calories? Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Judge Consuelo Callahan (9th Cir.), and Judge Kathleen Cardone (W.D. Tex.) are aerobics aficionados. And all three, coincidentally, used to teach it. Justice O’Connor led the female law clerks in aerobics at the Supreme Court; Judge Callahan was an instructor at Jack La Lanne Fitness in Stockton, California; and Judge Cardone led classes at EP Fitness in El Paso, Texas.

Meanwhile, Justice David Souter, feeder judges J. Harvie Wilkinson (4th Cir.) and Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain (9th Cir.), and ex-Judge Michael Chertoff (3d Cir.) enjoy running. And they’re not the only ones:

An older sighting (March), but a good one. I was driving my car in Georgetown one Sunday morning behind a jogger (blue/black long spandex pants and windbreaker). He was trotting right down the middle of the street, leaving no opportunity to pass on either side.

We followed behind him for about 2 blocks, going an infuriating 4 mph. When he hits the end of the block, he turns and starts jogging the opposite way, and now he’s heading straight in our direction. It was unmistakably Justice Stephen Breyer.

We commend Justice Breyer for his fitness regimen (which may explain why he’s one of the more svelte of the justices). But please, Your Honor — show some consideration for the motorists.

(Yeah, we know — those brick sidewalks in Georgetown can be a real bitch. But remember the words of Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”)

people who need people.JPGRemember the not-so-little secret we let you in on the other day: that all big law firms are pretty much the same?*
If you question that conventional wisdom, consider this interview tale:

I walked into an on-campus interview with a prominent DC firm. The interview room had a big window, and the interviewer must have been relying all day on the natural light coming through the window. So he had forgotten to turn the overhead light on. However, my interview was in the early evening…. The result was a dark room, with only one light on: a desk lamp, which happened to be shining directly into my face. It felt like an interrogation.

The interviewer himself didn’t help matters. This partner looked like he hadn’t slept in a week. He was dour and unfriendly. It was one of those lazy interviews, where the interviewer just lets you ask questions. So I asked my litany of innocuous, and boring, questions.

After a few, he tilted his head and said, “You know, none of those questions will do anything to distinguish our firm from any other major firm in DC.” Taken aback, and a bit annoyed, I replied, “Well then, what really does set your firm apart?”

He paused in thought. Then he said, “Not much really. I can’t think of anything.” I pressed him, asking, “Why did you decide to join [this firm]?” “Oh, I don’t know. A bunch of my friends went there, so I went too.”

Hey, at least he was honest…

The interview went on for about ten more painful minutes. As I was about to leave, the interviewer said, “You know, I guess if there’s one thing that really does set our firm apart, it’s the people. The people here are friendly and collegial and down-to-earth.”

Umm, right….

* All the same except for Wachtell Lipton, which pays much better — but where you work much harder.
Earlier: Prior Interview Horror Stories (scroll down)

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGIn response to our recent request for information about academic salaries, a number of you reminded us that the salaries of many professors at state law schools are already publicly available. We had a vague recollection of this, but were too lazy to dig up links.

Thankfully, a number of you did that for us. Here they are….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: Private Law School Salaries, Please”

boston sweatshirt.jpgOur series on Interview Horror Stories has released a wave of funny interview anecdotes throughout the blogosphere. In addition to yesterday’s amusingly awkward anecdote from David Bernstein, check out Eric Muller’s two contributions: a funny-but-evil law firm story, and a butt-clenchingly mortifying faculty job talk story (anecdote #2).
And now, our latest funny/embarrassing interview story, courtesy of a kind reader:

I was interviewing mostly with Boston firms. Inevitably I was asked about my Denver-heavy resume, and I had developed a whole spiel about why I wanted to work in Boston. On my last interview of the day, the interviewers asked the resume question right out of the gate.

I launched into my nearly memorized response: “Rest assured, my desire to work in Boston is sincere. I’ve been in Boston for college and law school. I love it here. There’s a rhythm and a dynamism here that you just don’t find out West. I have a real connection with the city, and frankly, I can’t imagine practicing law anywhere but Boston.”

The two interviewers looked at each other, then at me. Then they reminded me that they were, in fact, from a Silicon Valley firm. I did not get a callback.

(For the record, everything worked out. I did end up practicing in Boston for several years, before the lure of home brought me back to Denver.)

Good stuff. Have your own interview horror story that you’d be willing to share? Please email us. We define “horror” loosely; we’re just looking for stories that pass the “mildly amusing” test. We will omit your name and any firm names, unless you request otherwise. Thankee kindly.
Law Faculty Hiring Horror Stories [Is That Legal?]
My “Most Unethical Law Firm Interview” Story [Is That Legal?]
My Funniest Law Firm Interview Story [Volokh Conspiracy]
Earlier: Prior Interview Horror Stories (scroll down)

paris hilton.jpgVoter turnout in our ATL reader poll, Who Is the Paris Hilton of the Federal Judiciary?, has been surprisingly good. Not as good as turnout in our ERISA Hotties Contest; but certainly stronger than the anemic response to the August 2006 Couple of the Month survey.
If you haven’t already voted, you can review the field and cast your ballot by clicking here. Please note that the poll is being administered by Pollhost. As a result, we have no control over any technological glitches (e.g., being told you already voted when you didn’t — this is probably because someone else in your office already did, and Pollhost treated that IP address as yours).
At the current time, Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit — the reigning male Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary — has a strong lead. But his colleague on the Ninth Circuit, Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw — the federal judiciary’s #2 Female Superhottie, as well as its #1 Gay Icon — is running right behind him (her Manolos be damned).
Here’s what one reader had to say about the results thus far:

I am astounded by the vote tally. Judge Kozinski is no Paris Hilton. He’s more like Sean Puffy Combs.

We see this reader’s point. First, Paris Hilton is a woman — and oh what a woman! So the three female judges may have a better claim to her bejeweled mantle than the two men.
Second, the Kozinski-Combs comparison is strong: both men are international superstars, with devoted fans, who are believed to enjoy tequila and fabulous parties.
(But, with all due respect to Judge Kozinski, Sean Combs is a better dresser. The black velvet tux that he wore to the Oscars two years ago is way more stylish than any black robe.)
With the voting well underway, it’s time to declare when the contest will end. The polls will close on Tuesday, September 26, at 1 PM (Eastern time). This will allow the candidates to campaign over the weekend (e.g., by spamming all their former clerks). It will also allow West Coast readers — and contestants — to vote one last time when they get into work that morning.
We wish these five distinguished jurists the best of luck in their quest for this distinction. If they have any campaign messages to disseminate, we invite them to email us.
Think about it, Your Honors. Wouldn’t “The Paris Hilton of the Federal Judiciary” look great in the “Miscellany” section of your Almanac of the Federal Judiciary write-up? Fun stuff!
Earlier: ATL Reader Poll: The Paris Hilton of the Federal Bench

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