viet dinh.jpgThe recent HP leak investigation scandal has drawn into the spotlight a legal celebrity of the first rank: Viet Dinh. Dinh represents venture capitalist god Thomas Perkins, in Perkins’s (rather tense) dealings with HP’s board and lawyers.
Dinh, for those of you visiting from other planets, is one of the highest-flying legal eagles in the country. He’s a former high-ranking official at the Justice Department, current professor at Georgetown Law, and former Supreme Court clerk (to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor).
Despite his platinum-plated résumé, Dinh is a grabby l’il guy. Here’s the lede of Anna Schneider-Mayerson’s very interesting profile of Dinh, in the New York Observer:

On the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Viet Dinh, one of the lead architects of the controversial Patriot Act, was standing in his Washington, D.C., office, waxing poetic about Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

“Justice O’Connor, I love her so much,” the 38-year-old law professor said. “I love her so much. She’s the best.”

As if to return the compliment, her image, in the form of a photo portrait signed to her former clerk “with respect and affection,” smiled back at him.

Hugs all around!

The effusive Dinh is, according to Schneider-Mayerson, “an avid and nonpartisan hugger.” As he readily admits, “I always hug [conservative lawyer] Ted Olson and [ACLU executive director] Anthony Romero,” he said.
Does this surprise us? Not in the least. Learn why, after the jump.


Viet Dinh’s reputation as “cuddly” is longstanding. Consider this testimonial, when Dinh was declared “second most-adorable former SCOTUS clerk” in attendance at the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention (2004):

Professor Viet Dinh (SOC, OT 1994), who is now back at Georgetown Law, after a stint heading up the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy (OLP), takes second place [as most adorable] behind Professor Eugene Volokh (his predecessor in SOC’s chambers). At the PATRIOT Act panel, Professor Dinh delivered “impressive and highly substantive” remarks, “sans notes.” (His delivery, however, could use some improvement: he spoke “too quickly,” making him “sound[] vaguely like Elmer Fudd.”) Professor Dinh is “so cute, you just want to take him home with you!”

(Get your minds out of the gutter, people! Clearly this correspondent wants to take home Professor Dinh — who came to this country at age 10, as a refugee fleeing war-torn Vietnam, in an “amazing and awe-inspiring turn of events” — so he can be taken care of, nurtured, and protected. If you have any doubt on this score, check out the picture (above right) of the “cuddly” Professor Dinh, which reveals his “sweet, boyishly vulnerable appearance.”)

Hugs all around, indeed!
A few more juicy tidbits from the Observer’s Viet Dinh profile:
If top lawyers are ever recruited for Project Runway, watch out for Dinh:

After some months in a refugee camp [after fleeing Vietnam and Malaysia], the Dinhs were sent to Portland, Ore. The family picked strawberries for menial wages, but when Mount St. Helens erupted, the crop damage was so severe that the family relocated to Fullerton in Southern California. There, Mr. Dinh worked alongside his mother in a sewing shop and flipped burgers after school. He earned a scholarship to Harvard and then attended Harvard Law School.

Dinh has come a long way, baby, since his days as a “boat person”:

It’s easy to detect a little reverse snobbery in the comments that friends and acquaintances make about Mr. Dinh’s attraction to the good life. There’s the persistent rumor that he had a car and driver. (Mr. Dinh claims that he only occasionally hitched rides with a courier that Bancroft hired for a period who used his car.)

Washingtonian magazine reported this month that Mr. Dinh and his wife, lawyer Jennifer Ashworth Dinh, sold their five-bedroom Beaux-Arts townhouse in Kalorama to World Bank lawyer Philippe Benoit for $1,950,000. They have moved to a three-bedroom house in Alexandria, Va.

Very nice. Professor Dinh, wanna have us over for a sleepover?
Hewlett-Packard Lawyer Dinh Gives Washington the ‘Viet-Spin’ [New York Observer]
H-P: Bill Lockyer, Viet Dinh, Morgan Lewis & More! [WSJ Law Blog]
Robing Room Report: Federalist Fiesta Collector’s Edition! [Underneath Their Robes]


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