(And if you’re REALLY good, we’ll reward you with more Nina Totenberg stories. Ask and you shall receive!)
Another day, another blog post about Chambermaid, the controversial clerkship novel by lawyer-turned-writer Saira Rao. The latest post is by Professor Scott Burris, who clerked for Third Circuit Judge Dolores K. Sloviter — Rao’s former boss, widely rumored to be the basis for the central villain of Chambermaid, the tyrannical Judge Helga Friedman.
But Burris — unlike, say, fellow law prof and ex-Sloviter clerk Mike Rappaport — takes issue with the scuttlebutt equating Sloviter and Friedman:
What I really object to in the whole affair is the way Rao and some of her blogging readers have negotiated the delicate question of Judge Friedman’s correspondence with Judge Sloviter, and the rationale offered in several quarters for “outing” mean judicial bosses….
Aside from a couple of tics, Helga Friendman is not a portrait, nor even a recognizable caricature, of Dolores Sloviter. Hell, I didn’t even recognize Rao’s Center City Philadelphia.
Additional discussion — if this issue doesn’t interest you, just stop reading here — appears after the jump.
Just a quick follow-up to our recent post about Saira Rao and Chambermaid, her novel about a law clerk’s challenging year clerking for a federal judicial diva. A tipster writes:
I just left a lunch where Saira Rao spoke to the South Asian Bar Association of Delaware, and she clarified something [from the recent Philadelphia Inquirer article].
I believe the article said something to the effect that she was pushed out of Cleary once people found out what her book was about. [Ed. note: Here's the quote from the Inquirer: "[Rao] left her New York law firm, Cleary Gottlieb, in November when the subject of her book became known, and, she said, the firm made her feel unwelcome.”]
According to her, it appears the opposite was true. She mentioned that the firm was actually accommodating to her needs as a writer and essentially created a new position for her so that she could concentrate more on the book. She also said she received two months off to allow her to finish up some edits on the book as well. She actually said she loved the firm and had a wonderful experience…. [Ed. note: For more, see this comment.]
In addition, she also mentioned that the book was recently optioned to be turned into a television series, so be on the lookout. No word yet on how involved she will be beyond the title of “consultant”.
With respect to the account of Rao’s departure from Cleary, our understanding is that the “firm made her feel unwelcome” statement wasn’t based directly on anything said by Rao herself, but reflected the article writer’s interpretation of events.
We love to engage in juicy speculation about workplace departures as much as (if not more than) the next guy. But it’s best when the scuttlebutt is actually accurate. Update: We have an email in to Carlin Romano, the Philly Inquirer book critic who wrote the article. We’ll let you now if and when we hear back from him. Lifetime raises Sunday stakes [Variety] Earlier: Chambermaid: Judge Sloviter Speaks
Today is our lucky day in terms of media coverage. In addition to the great WaPo shout-out, Above the Law is also mentioned in the Philadelphia Inquirer (front page, above the fold).
The article, by Inquirer book critic Carlin Romano, is all about Chambermaid, the highly entertaining debut novel of Saira Rao, loosely based on her clerkship for Judge Dolores Sloviter of the Third Circuit. You’ve probably already read tons of blog posts and articles about this buzz-generating book.
But this piece is different. It includes some choice comments from Judge Sloviter herself — who, until now, has remained silent about her former clerk’s literary endeavors (as far as we know).
More discussion, after the jump.
Check out the woman at right. She is the Honorable Dolores K. Sloviter, and she sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Judge Sloviter seems like a kindly old lady, doesn’t she? We’ve seen her on the bench, at multiple oral arguments. Based on her grandmotherly appearance, we once quipped to a colleague: “She seems so nice! When is she going to descend from the bench and feed us homemade cookies?”
Answer: not anytime soon (unless the cookies are laced with arsenic). From one of Judge Sloviter’s former clerks, Professor Mike Rappaport:
In 1985, having just graduated from law school, I arrived for my first day of work as a law clerk to Dolores K. Sloviter of the Third Circuit….
My two co-clerks, who had arrived a week earlier, took me to lunch. I asked how things were going, and they looked kind of uncomfortable. They explained that on their first day, a week earlier, they had gone to lunch with the holdover clerk, and had asked her, almost making small talk, how her year had been. [T]hey listened as she spent the next hour and a half detailing the horrors of the experience, and how she wasn’t sure how she had gotten through it.
That law clerk’s year of hell turned out to be quite similar to our year….
(That’s just an excerpt. You can read the entire post by clicking here.)
But should any of this come as a surprise? As regular ATL readers surelyrecall, Dolores Sloviter is the alleged inspiration for the nightmarish Judge Helga Friedman, central villain of Saira Rao’s delightful new novel, Chambermaid.
Additional thoughts on hellacious clerkships, plus a call for reader tips, after the jump.
Stone, a former chairman of a state bar committee on federal practice and procedure who handles a wide swath of issues, including insurance, RICO, real estate and ethics, has been practicing for 20 years. He’s now a partner at the Roseland firm of Walder Hayden and Brogan.
Back in December, we suggested that Judge Noel Hillman (D.N.J.) was probably going to be nominated to the Third Circuit. We wrote: “[N]ominating Judge Hillman to the court of appeals actually makes political sense for the White House — especially in its current, weakened state…. Picking a nominee who made it through the Senate just a few months ago would be a shrewd move. Since the two New Jersey senators supported Hillman for the district court, it would be awkward for them to oppose him for the circuit court now.”
But things appear to have changed. From the Newark Star-Ledger:
In an abrupt about-face, President Bush has decided against nominating Noel Hillman, a veteran prosecutor and now federal judge in Camden, to the seat on the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that was held by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr….
Hillman confirmed the news. He said the speculation about his possible elevation to the court of appeals was “flattering,” adding he now has “every confidence that our president will choose someone for the current vacancy worthy of his trust, worthy of the position, and worthy of Senate confirmation.”
Some questions for our readers:
1. What’s behind the White House’s change of heart? Was it, as suggested by the Star-Ledger, concern “that Hillman’s Senate confirmation hearing could become an inquisition into the behind-the-scenes operations of the Justice Department”? Or is there something more here, perhaps specific to Judge Hillman?
(If the White House is worried about Hillman hearings turning into another fishing expedition into the DOJ, we can hardly blame them. After all, look at all the dirty laundry that got aired when former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified yesterday. What a mess!)
2. Now that Judge Hillman is out of the running, who is likely to get the nod?
Chef Robert Invine was given a challenging task. He was directed “to prepare a stately array of hors d’oeuvres,” to be served at the Inaugural Ball of Judge Rendell’s husband, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell.
The number of guests: 4,000. The amount of time available to him: 24 hours. Despite the difficulty of the project, Chef Irvine completed his mission.
But we were a little disappointed with the episode, for a number of reasons….
“Chef Robert Irvine faces his most daunting assignment yet. In a surprise meeting, the governor of Pennsylvania [Ed Rendell] challenges Robert to prepare a stately array of hors d’oeuvres for his Inaugural Ball. In just 24 hours Robert has to create and prepare Pennsylvania delicacies to feed 4,000 attendees!”
Television commercials reveal that Judge Rendell will appear on the show. I suspect that it will be diva-licious!
We agree. And perhaps Judge Rendell, who has given musical guidance to Jon Bon Jovi, can teach Irvine a thing or two about cooking.
By day, Judge Marjorie O. Rendell of the Third Circuit develops groundbreaking precedents affecting fundamental constitutional rights. By night, First Lady Marjorie “Midge” Rendell of the Governor’s Mansion develops… recipes!
Have any of you — maybe there are some former Rendell clerks among you — sampled Judge Rendell’s cuisine? If so, we’d love to get your firsthand report.
P.S. If you’re such a huge Judge Rendell groupie that you want to see her in person as well as on television, check out this event, taking place in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. It sounds fantastic.
We would have loved to watch the legendary Miguel Estrada and David Rudovsky argue before a star-studded bench. But when we called yesterday to reserve a seat, we were informed that seats are no longer available.
If you hang around outside the entrance, though, maybe you can catch a glimpse of judicial hottie Rendell as she enters or exits the building. Good luck!
The latest item for Eyes of the Law, our legal celebrity sightings column, is a doozy. From the AP:
Rock band Bon Jovi, Harrisburg restaurants and school bands from all over the state were part of yesterday’s daylong celebration of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s inauguration for a second term….
Even more talented than Rendell was his wife, Midge Rendell [aka Third Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell], who capped the concert by singing a duet with rock star Jon Bon Jovi of “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?”
The performance brought the night’s first standing ovation. Rendell ambled up on stage afterward and marveled that no other first lady could sing with Bon Jovi.
“Take that Maria Shriver,” he bellowed, referring to the wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Please correct us if we’re wrong. But this is, as far as we know, the first time a federal circuit judge has sung a duet with Jon Bon Jovi.*
In addition to her musical prowess, the Honorable Marjorie Rendell also deserves props for being the Stylish Marjorie Rendell.
The attractive Judge Rendell, a federal judicial hottie, wore a gown by noted designer Paula Hian to the inauguration festivities.
For hard-core fashionistas, a lengthy description of the frock appears after the jump.
Here is some late-breaking judicial nomination news:
1. An update to our prior coverage of the withdrawal of the “Radioactive Four.” As one of you points out, it seems that Judge Terrence Boyle (E.D.N.C.), nominated to the Fourth Circuit, wanted to continue fighting.
From the latest version of the AP story:
William Haynes, William G. Myers III and Michael Wallace all asked to have their appointments withdrawn, these officials said. Judge Terrence Boyle was informed of the White House’s decision, according to an ally….
Lars H. Liebeler, a Washington lawyer, said in a telephone interview that Boyle, unlike Wallace, Haynes and Myers, did not submitted a letter asking to be withdrawn but was told of the president’s intentions.
This makes some sense. Considering that Judge Boyle (above right) is (1) 61 years old and (2) already a sitting federal judge, he’s not really going anywhere — and he doesn’t have much to lose from further fighting. But the White House apparently decided that continuing to push his nomination, in a Senate controlled by the Democrats, wasn’t worth the possible loss of face (or expenditure of political capital).
2. The White House released two more slates of judicial nominees today. See here and here.
The most notable and/or controversial nominees:
(b) Peter Keisler (OT 1988/Kennedy), renominated to the D.C. Circuit, who isn’t problematic personally, but has a “seat issue” (for years Republicans were saying that the last seat on the D.C. Circuit is unnecessary);
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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