Book Deals

* The role of lawyers in America’s Syrian policy. Everyone always tries to throw the lawyers under the bus. [Lawfare]

* Pippa Middleton has some lawyers trying to crack down on a parody Twitter account. Thankfully, the law exists to protect wealthy socialites from being mocked. [IT-Lex]

* GCs are not happy with the rates charged by outside counsel. I, for one, am shocked that GCs don’t like paying upwards of $1000 an hour for “further work.” [Consero]

* Honestly, we should have seen this coming: a Zimmerman juror is seeking a book deal. This is the juror who assumed black people had rioted over the shooting and called Trayvon a “boy of color,” so you can tell the prosecution was doing a bang-up job with its jury selection procedures. [AlterNet]

* Conservatives rejoice after several unions complain about Obamacare. Oh, the irony! Except the unions’ complaint is not that Obamacare is bad, but that it doesn’t go far enough in providing incentives to non-profit insurance plans and penalizing companies that are cutting back on hours to avoid the law. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* The Top 50 Legal Innovators, Techies, Visionaries, and Leaders: meet this year’s Fastcase 50 (Lat appeared on the inaugural list). [Fastcase via TaxProf Blog]

* After the jump, a short video about Superman and the duty to rescue. I understand that people are miffed that the most recent film version of Superman takes a laissez-faire view of saving lives, but Superman’s always been a dick

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Beneath the skin of many a suit-sporting lawyer beats the heart of a writer. Law offices across the land are stocked with aspiring novelists, poets, journalists, and others who long to write things other than credit agreements or motions to dismiss.

Perhaps you’re a literary type who went to law school on a lark but long to return to the world of arts and letters. If so, keep reading to learn about how to make that dream a reality….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Alternatives for Attorneys: Novelist and Blogger”

Ed. note: Lat here. This post is by lawyer turned novelist Allison Leotta, whom I previously profiled. I recently read Leotta’s newest book, Discretion, which I highly recommend. Not only is it a gripping thriller, but it’s legally realistic too, reflecting Leotta’s experience as a federal prosecutor and her research into the escort business.

As a former sex-crimes prosecutor who just wrote a novel about the escort business, I keep getting the same question from my Biglaw buddies: “I already feel like a high-end prostitute. Shouldn’t I get paid like one?”

It’s an old saw that lawyers are already prostitutes. Face it, we care deeply for our clients because we’re paid to care about them. If we’re good, we start by convincing ourselves that the side of the legal dispute we more or less randomly ended up on happens to be the right side. You think a hooker’s job is that different? Forget it. The infamous D.C. Madam — an inspiration for my latest book, Discretion (affiliate link) — was a woman who dropped out of law school and opened an escort agency.

You’re good-looking, you like people, you know how to bill by the hour — you could totally do this. But is being a high-class escort really a better job than the one you’ve got now? The answer will be familiar to every memo-writing associate: It depends. Before you go trading in those Christian Louboutins for five-inch-stilettos, check out these side-to-side comparisons of the trades….

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Say what? One of Above the Law’s favorite subjects, celebrity lawyer and author Elizabeth Wurtzel, got attacked by a penguin?

Yes — in a manner of speaking. Penguin Group, the publishing mega-house, recently sued the bestselling and critically acclaimed authoress, seeking the return of her advance money. Other prominent authors have been sued as well.

How much does the publisher want back from La Wurtzel? What are her possible defenses? And who are some of the other high-profile defendants being pursued by the angry Penguin?

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I’ve relented.

Under extreme pressure from all quarters — well, my wife thought it was a good idea, anyway — I’ve committed to publish a compendium of “Inside Straight” columns in the form of a book. ABA Publishing tells me that, in June, you’ll be able to hold in your hands Inside Straight: [followed by a clever subtitle]! (This obviously remains a work in progress.)

I have two items of good news about the forthcoming book and two requests for your help. First, the good news: The book will not simply be about me; it will also be about you! In addition to reproducing a collection of my columns, the book will include assorted “comments” that you, my readers, have appended to my posts. The book will thus answer many of your burning questions: Do I read the comments? Will I reproduce in the book the nastiest of the comments? (That raises the obvious derivative issue: Am I a self-loathing lunatic?) When I choose which comments to publish in the book, will “Bonobo Bro” make the cut? Will “Concerned Pastafarian”? Find out the answers to those questions — and more! — in Inside Straight: The Book!

The other good news is that David Lat has agreed to contribute a foreword to the book. Whatever you think of the quality of my writing, you know that Lat can write. The foreword alone is worth the entire price of the book!

So much for the good news; now, the requests for your help . . .

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Natalie Lee (aka Cavanaugh Lee)

Might we be seeing a new trend, namely, federal prosecutors moonlighting as novelists?

Last year, as part of Above the Law’s Career Alternatives series, we profiled Allison Leotta, an assistant U.S. attorney in D.C. who wrote a well-received thriller, Law of Attraction. Today we introduce you to Natalie Lee — an assistant U.S. attorney in Savannah, former associate at Alston & Bird, and author of a new novel, Save as Draft. (When looking up the book, please note that Natalie writes under a pen name, “Cavanaugh Lee.”)

Like Law of Attraction, Save as Draft has garnered some nice reviews. A post on Chick Lit Reviews, for example, praises the book as a “fantastic read that all of us technology addicted Chick Lit fans will absolutely fall in love with, a must read!”

The reference to technology addiction relates to the novel’s ingenious premise. I discussed that premise — along with other topics, such as the inspiration for the book’s law firm partner / villainess, a products-liability litigatrix named Rose — in a recent interview with Natalie Lee….

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Amy Chua

If you’re going to be a diva, then own it. Was this lesson lost on Yale law professor Amy Chua, the author of an incendiary essay in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, and a new book about Eastern versus Western parenting styles, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother?

Professor Chua seems to have it all: brains and beauty; an incredible academic career, with an endowed chair at Yale Law School; a hunky husband, fellow YLS prof Jed Rubenfeld; and two lovely and accomplished daughters. (Speaking of Chua’s kids, does anyone know where her oldest girl, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, is attending, or applying to attend, college? To Asian parents, sending a child to a top college is the ultimate vindication.)

Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld

But Amy Chua may need to work on her bitch-goddess qualities. After her controversial essay about the superiority of Chinese mothers and hard-ass Asian parenting set the blogosphere on fire — and sent her book rocketing to #5 on the Amazon bestseller list — Chua backtracked a bit, instead of defiantly standing her ground.

In interviews with the San Francisco Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times, among other outlets, the self-proclaimed “Tiger Mom” seemed to turn into a pussycat….

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Amy Chua: Yale Law professor and Tiger Mother.

Right now the legal world is abuzz about an essay published over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal by Amy Chua, a prominent (and pulchritudinous) professor at Yale Law School. The essay’s title, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, pretty much says it all. The piece is based on Chua’s new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, described by its publisher as “[a]n awe-inspiring, often hilarious, and unerringly honest story of one mother’s exercise in extreme parenting, revealing the rewards-and the costs-of raising her children the Chinese way.”

What does raising children “the Chinese way” entail? It’s not hard to guess. Here’s a good summary from Vivia Chen (one of the many Asian-American females to write about Chua; see also Jen Chung of Gothamist and Elizabeth Chang of the Washington Post): “Chua is an überachiever who’s hell-bent on raising her kids to be at least as accomplished as she is. Chua seems to delight in playing up to the stereotype of the pushy, academically obsessed Asian mom. So much so that I thought (for a moment) that she was pulling our legs. But she’s serious.”

Very serious. Let’s take a look at how Chua and her husband — Jed Rubenfeld, a Yale law professor, overachiever, and certified hottie, just like his wife — raise their two daughters, Sophia and Louisa Chua-Rubenfeld….

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I don’t want to step on Oprah’s toes, but I have a book recommendation for you: Law of Attraction. No, it has nothing to do with this law of attraction. Yes, you will enjoy it.

This Law of Attraction is a novel by Allison Leotta, a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. It’s a fun, fast-paced read; I could hardly put it down, finishing it in two sittings. I concur with the blurb by Harvard law professor and criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz: “I loved this novel. Law of Attraction is realistic, gritty, and filled with twists and turns. Allison Leotta’s female lawyer character is compelling and engaging. This is a great read for anyone who loves legal thrillers, cares about domestic violence, or wonders how lawyers can live with themselves.”

(Disclosure: I also enjoyed Law of Attraction because it contains an Above the Law cameo. After the protagonist, assistant U.S. attorney Anna Curtis, gets in trouble, her misadventures wind up on ATL (pp. 217-18). The novel even contains fictionalized comments from the peanut gallery of Above the Law commenters — which are hilarious.)

I spoke with Leotta recently, while she was in New York to meet with her agent and do a book reading. We discussed such subjects as why, and how, she wrote her novel; the Department of Justice review process for the book; how she juggles her day job as a prosecutor, her writing career, and being the mother to two kids; and her advice to lawyers who want to become writers.

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Sarah Palin Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hottie.jpgGovernor Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, announced today that she is resigning as governor of Alaska on July 25.
“We know we can effect positive change outside government at this moment in time on another scale and actually make a difference for our priorities,” said Palin. Check out her full statement here (PDF).
Palin may not be a lawyer, but she’s definitely a client. She owes more than $500,000 to the Alaska law firm of Clapp, Peterson, Van Flein, Tiemessen & Thorsness, which has defended her against various ethics complaints. Paying off her debt shouldn’t be a problem, thanks to the (surely lucrative) book deal negotiated for her by Williams & Connolly super-agent Robert Barnett (who spoke to ATL last September, when his firm hired appellate superstar Kannon Shanmugam).
We wish Governor Palin the best of luck in her future endeavors. Hopefully she will remain on the national stage for years to come.
Update: According to the New York Times, legal bills played a significant role in Palin’s decision to step down.
Palin to Resign as Alaska Governor on July 25 [Washington Post]
Palin to Resign as Governor of Alaska [The Caucus / New York Times]

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