Book Club

* “I don’t believe judges should be filibustered.” Tell that to the rest of your Republican pals, Senator Hatch. D.C. Circuit nom Sri Srinivasan faced little drama at the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. [Bloomberg]

* A bipartisan gun regulation deal has been reached in the Senate, and of course the NRA is opposing it — well, except for the parts that expand gun rights. The group really likes those parts. [Washington Post]

* Trolling for patent partners? Bingham recently snagged five IP partners from DLA Piper’s Los Angeles office, including the former co-chair of DLA patent litigation department. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Time well spent: while Detroit hangs on the precipice of bankruptcy, local politicians are worrying about whether retaining Jones Day poses a conflict of interest for their emergency manager (Kevyn Orr, formerly of Jones Day). [Am Law Daily]

* NYLS — or should we say “New York’s law school” — is revamping its clinical program to kill two birds with one stone (e.g., fulfilling pro bono hours and boosting job prospects). [National Law Journal]

* For all the talk of his being a hard ass, Judge Rakoff is a nice guy after all! The judge gave an ex-SAC trader permission to go on a honeymoon after his release from prison. [DealBook / New York Times]

* If you’ve ever wondered how Lat spends his free time, sometimes he’s off writing book reviews for distinguished publications. Check out his review of Mistrial (affiliate link) here. [Wall Street Journal]

* “Lindsay Lohan is the victim.” What the Heller you talking about? LiLo’s lawyer thinks there’s a conspiracy among the prosecutors on her case that’s resulted in leaks of information to TMZ. [CNN]

Ralph Richard Banks

Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories about black women. Things can be tough. African-American women get all of the sexism white women have to deal with, and all of the racism black men have to deal with. Successful black men tend to fulfill their own self-loathing destiny by running away from black women (not me, I’m married to one). Cultural representations of them are used to sell syrup or chicken, or involve a black dude dressed up in a fat suit (if William Tecumseh Sherman were still alive, he’d be waging war against Martin Lawrence and Tyler Perry). And law professors at prestigious universities try to profiteer off of their difficulties.

That last one is somewhat recent. But I don’t know how else to describe the new book by a Stanford Law professor, Ralph Richard Banks. His upcoming book is entitled Is Marriage for White People? (affiliate link).

Now, if I were a blogger looking to make a quick buck, that’s exactly the kind of book I’d write. In fact, look for my upcoming book, “Why White People Can Afford To Piss Away Time & Money in Law School, But Blacks Can’t.”

But Ralph Banks isn’t a blogger, he’s a Stanford Law professor. Shouldn’t we expect less sensationalized bullcrap from him?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Stanford Law School: Why Are Your Professors Writing Books That Sound Like They’ve Been Written By Bloggers?”

Now that you’ve figured out what to give your secretary this holiday season, what about the lawyers in your life? Many of you have friends or family members who are lawyers or law students, and if you haven’t done so already, you need to get them — forgive the expression — Christmas presents (or holiday gifts, if you prefer).

Lawyerly types can be tough to shop for. As we’ve previously discussed, lawyers aren’t great about giving gratitude, and they’re often very critical — so your gifts might not be warmly received. Also, many lawyers earn good incomes, meaning that when they actually need or want something, they often just go out and buy it themselves (or let their firm to buy it for them — e.g., the iPad).

So what should you get for the lawyers in your life this holiday season? We have some suggestions….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Twelve Books of Christmas (2010)”

Judge Vanessa Gilmore, a self-identified judicial diva.

Back in 2007, I declared Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore (S.D. Tex.) to be a judicial diva (a term I first popularized over at my original blog, Underneath Their Robes). Judge Gilmore earned this delicious distinction through such behavior as allegedly throwing objects at attorneys in open court and dumping motions in the trash for using the incorrect font.

Well, it appears that Judge Vanessa Gilmore was pleased rather than perturbed by her diva designation. As she told the Texas Lawyer, she used it in the title of her new book, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Tales From a Judicial Diva.

This is Judge Gilmore’s second book. Her first literary effort, A Boy Named Rocky, was “a coloring book for the children of incarcerated parents.” (They sure could use it — if any kids need to be taught to stay within the lines….)

Let’s learn more about Judge Gilmore’s latest book — and check out the delightfully ridiculous cover art….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Memoirs of a Judicial Diva: Judge Vanessa Gilmore Pens A Second Book”

If you’re the type who is convinced that the people you work with in Biglaw are evil, conniving, and ready to stab you in the back with a really sharp highlighter, you will love Getting It, a novel by Daniel Shaviro. In a post titled “james joyce meets the paper chase,” an Amazon reviewer says: “If Joyce or Kafka had worked at Arnold and Porter, this would be their book.”

I’ve read a lot of lawyer fiction, but never something quite like this. The satirical novel is populated with sadistic partners and scheming associates competing for partnership, including the caddish Bill Doberman, dopey Arnold Portner, and self-involved Lowell Stellworth. It’s an “American Psycho” take on Biglaw — funny and fast-paced, a great summer quick read. I devoured it on a plane to Chicago.

Shaviro’s books are usually more taxing — he’s the Wayne Perry Professor of Taxation at NYU Law. Though he’s had many books published before — e.g., Decoding the U.S. Corporate Tax and Taxes, Spending, and the U.S. Government’s March Toward Bankruptcy — this is his first novel. Even if you didn’t study with him at NYU, you may recognize him as the man with Elena Kagan in this photo, when they were both professors at the University of Chicago.

Before becoming an academic, Shaviro worked for Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, D.C., and then went on to the Joint Committee on Taxation. He started working on the book during Congressional breaks in 1985 — his characters actually use the legal research library to Shephardize their memos — but only finished it last year. Coming back to the novel two decades later, he says that it felt at times like he was working on a collaboration with a different person — a younger version of himself.

“I’m in a different place; I could never come up with this now. It was a 20-something version of me that came up with it,” Shaviro told me. He had the inspiration of youth to start it, but had the discipline and wisdom now to finish it and cut the bad parts. “I mined the cut parts and discovered some really nice turns of phrase. I wish I could reach out to that [younger] guy and get some more material from him.”

Why is the book so fun? How did Shaviro finally finish it? And why was he in that photo with Elena Kagan?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘Getting It’: A Novel About a Diabolical Pursuit of Partnership
And an interview with the author, NYU Professor Daniel Shaviro.

justin peacock cure for night above the law.jpgJustin Peacock is living the dream. The lawyer-turned-successful-writer dream, that is.

His first novel, A Cure for Night, got rave reviews. The Washington Post called it “terrific.” The New York Times praised Peacock for forgoing “the flashier precincts of John Grisham, where all is conspiracy and the legalese is leavened with bombs and gunplay, and head[ing] toward Scott Turow country, where characters get enmeshed in the murky, moral corners of the actual law.” The Mystery Writers of America recently nominated Peacock for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

After all the accolades, Peacock, 38, quit his litigation job at Patterson Belknap last year to concentrate full-time on writing. We caught up with him at Ozzie’s Coffeehouse in Brooklyn on a rainy Wednesday afternoon this week. Read our interview on making the transition from law to writing, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Book Club: A Cure for Night’s Justin Peacock”

John Grisham sat down with us this morning for an exclusive blog interview to discuss his new book, The Associate. The book’s main character, Kyle McAvoy, is a Biglaw associate with a mysterious past and intriguing future.

In his previous books, Grisham has explored emotional and ethical costs of practicing the law in various forms. But his latest book takes dead aim at the life, and lifestyle, of junior associates at top Manhattan law firms.

A lot of Kyle McAvoy’s Biglaw experience will ring true to most readers of Above the Law. We found out that Grisham’s depictions of Biglaw life are so accurate because typical associates told him the truth:

I found some wonderful blogs where associates post anonymously their stories. Beautiful stories….

But my best research was done by a research assistant that spent one year in the law…. He knew a ton of lawyers in the big law firms in New York. He told them up front what he was doing [researching for Grisham's new book] and that their stories would be kept anonymous, and they just unloaded on him…. Most of it went into the book.

The book contains scenes that are easily recognizable to most Biglaw associates, from the mind-numbing experience of document review, to the attorney who literally passes out due to exhaustion.

But we wanted to know if Grisham modeled the book’s central firm, Scully & Pershing, on any individual real-life firm. Grisham said that he unequivocally did not:

I was prepared to go to a big law firm and get inside and walk around and kick the tires. But I didn’t want to do that because I knew the portrayal would be unflattering and I didn’t want to embarrass any particular firm.

In fact, Grisham thought about changing the name of the fictional Scully to avoid any possibility of confusion with Skadden.

Why is the take on life in Biglaw so “unflattering”? Grisham explains that the wasted potential he explores in The Associate mirrors what he sees in the corridors of the nation’s top law firms.

More details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “John Grisham: The Associate
An ATL Exclusive Interview With John Grisham About His Latest Book”