Book Deals

Julie Buxbaum is a Harvard alumna and lawyer turned novelist. Her first book, The Opposite of Love, is getting favorable reviews. As we’ve written about before, she’s signed a deal for two books, so it’s a good sign that the first is being well-received.

For the lawyers who want to be writers: her advance was likely in excess of $500,000.

Carrie Bradshaw’s Smarter Sister [Washington Post]
The Opposite of Love [Amazon]

Barack Obama Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re tired of the national lovefest for Barack Obama that is currently underway. It seems that Senator Obama, barely halfway through his first term in the U.S. Senate, can do no wrong — and the divalicious Hillary Clinton, the fabulous former first lady who also has a complete (and highly successful) Senate term under the belt of her pantsuit, can do no right.
Everybody loves Barack. The 2008 election has turned into a run for class president, Barack is the “Cool Kid,” and Hillary is the nerd — the Tracy Flick character from Election.
Lawyers seems to love Obama, especially young, starry-eyed law firm associates. But general counsels have a weakness for him too, as reported today in Corporate Counsel:

The nation’s best-paid general counsel have a clear favorite in the presidential race: Barack Obama. In the run-up to the primary season, the Illinois senator received more money from the in-house legal elite than any other candidate….

A total of 29 GCs in the top 100 have contributed to a presidential candidate so far (five gave to more than one campaign). Eight legal chiefs gave Obama a total of $20,600; Hillary Clinton raised $14,500 from six; and Christopher Dodd netted $13,000 from eight.

And publishers like to throw money at Obama too. From a post over the weekend at Boston Now:

[P]residential candidate Barack “No Experience” Obama apparently has no program for reducing foreign corporate control of the U.S. book publishing industry and other U.S. media industries.

One reason Obama might not want to propose that U.S. anti-trust laws be enforced against German media conglomerates like Bertelsmann AG is that between Election Day 2004 and his swearing in as a Senator, Obama was given a $1.7 million two-book contract by the Random House/Crown Publishers/Alfred Knopf subsidiary division of Bertelsmann AG. By signing his lucrative book contract with the German media conglomerate’s U.S. subsidiary before taking office, Obama did not fall under various requirements for disclosure and reporting that applies to members of Congress who accept money from U.S. media conglomerates.

We could offer some snarky quip, but will refrain. Senator Obama complied with all applicable legal and ethical rules. His deal was brokered by Robert Barnett of Williams & Connolly, the D.C. superlawyer who brokered a similar book deal for Hillary Clinton, also hammered out right before she took office.
And Hillary is our girl. If loving her is wrong, we don’t want to be right.
Update: This video, in which HRC gets a bit choked up, is awesome. She’s the most effective politically when she’s the most personal. Remember how her political career was launched, after she was humanized as the wronged woman in L’Affaire Lewinsky?
Further Update: In the comments, some of you suggest that this post would be more appropriate for our personal blog. Thanks for the unsolicited advice, which we have taken.
We offer additional thoughts about Hillary, Obama, and the amazing video clip, in this post on our personal blog. The post’s title: “Could this be Hillary’s anti-Scream, her anti-Macaca moment? Could this video clip save her faltering campaign?”
The GCs’ Choice: Obama [Corporate Counsel]
Obama’s $1.7 Million Book Contract [Boston Now]

New England White.jpg
Our old professors continue to churn out best-selling fiction. First it was Stephen Carter, our contracts professor, who stunned the publishing world — and the YLS faculty — with a $4 million advance for his first thriller, The Emperor of Ocean Park.
Then our con law professor, Jed Rubenfeld, came out with a novel of his own, the creepy psychological thriller The Interpretation of Murder. (Above the Law did a post on the Rubenfeld book here.)
Now Stephen Carter is back with his second novel, New England White.
The New York Times gives it an approving review and offers us a taste of the plot:

The whiteness that appalls in Stephen L. Carter’s stylishly written new novel, “New England White,” is only partly the snow, which sifts through the “Gothic sprawl” of the university campus in “grimy, dilapidated” Elm Harbor in the late fall of 2003. In a coy author’s note we are assured that Elm Harbor is “not a thinly disguised New Haven,” so the unnamed university is presumably not a thinly disguised Yale, where Carter — author of a previous best-selling thriller, “The Emperor of Ocean Park,” as well as highly regarded books on the pitfalls of affirmative action and the proper place of religion in public life — has taught in the law school since 1982.
For Lemaster Carlyle, president of the university, the “heart of whiteness” is the creepy bedroom community of Tyler’s Landing, population 3,000, of whom five families, including the Carlyles, happen to be black. In the Landing, as it is called, Lemaster and his wife, Julia, a deputy dean of the divinity school, live in an ostentatious house with their two daughters, Vanessa (“16 going on 50”) and Jeannie, and “a smelly feline mutt” named Rainbow Coalition. Lemaster’s college roommate, now president of the United States (“the big president”) and up for re-election, sometimes calls to chat. To their envious neighbors on Hunter’s Meadow Road, “where the houses stood continents apart,” the Carlyles seem to have it all. But those “invisible spheres” Melville mentioned are about to crack the veneer of their seemingly perfect lives.

Sounds intriguing. We enjoyed The Emperor of Ocean Park until the end, which we didn’t think lived up to the suspense Carter masterfully built up throughout the rest of the book (Note to Professor Carter: We’re giving you more feedback here than you gave us on that contracts exam).


Jessica Cutler Washingtonienne Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThis news is a bit mystifying to us. From the Associated Press:

Jessica Cutler, the former Senate aide whose online sex diary landed her a book deal and a Playboy photo spread but got her kicked off Capitol Hill, has filed for bankruptcy….

Cutler has spent much of her time [recently] fending off a lawsuit by ex-boyfriend and fellow DeWine staffer Robert Steinbuch, who claims Cutler’s blog publicly humiliated him. He is seeking more than $20 million in damages.

In court documents filed in the case Thursday, however, Cutler says she can’t even pay her American Express bill, legal fees and student loans. She submitted to the judge a copy of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition filed in New York dated Wednesday.

The lawsuit is being closely watched by online privacy groups and bloggers because the case could help establish whether people who keep online diaries are obligated to protect the privacy of the people they interact with offline.

Our advice to Jessica: retain William P. Smith to represent you in bankruptcy court. You can pay his fees in “Happy Meals.”
On a more serious note: How did the Washingtonienne wind up in this financial predicament?
We’re not so good with math, so please help us out. We run some numbers, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Jessica Cutler Files for Bankruptcy”

* So apparently the feds knew about law firm bonuses before ATL. [MSNBC]
* Guess which party just picked up two swing states. [CNN]
* Shutting down YouTube: the ultimate jealous boyfriend move. [MSNBC]
* OJ’s money is going nowhere for now. [AP]
* Federal court allows suit against Vatican. [MSNBC]

2007.jpgLast week was short, thanks to the New Year’s holiday; but it sure was busy. Here are some highlights from a very momentous week:
* No more jokes about Harriet Miers: the ill-fated ex-SCOTUS nominee has resigned as White House counsel. Speculation about her successor abounds.
* No more jokes about the Dewy Orifice: the ill-fated merger between Dewey Ballantine and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has been called off.
* Turns out that Chief Justice Rehnquist was a painkiller junkie. Once, while suffering withdrawal symptoms, he tried to bust out of a hospital in his PJs.
* Chief Judge David Levi, of the Eastern District of California, will be the new Dean of Duke Law School.
* All About Jan? Just as the aging Margo Channing’s reign over Broadway was threatened by the comely Eve Harrington, the aging Linda Greenhouse’s reign over One First Street is being threatened by the comely Jan Crawford Greenburg.
* Who knew? Law professors and legal bloggers sure know how to party! Photos of drunken legal academics available here and here.
* Cravath partner John Beerbower has enjoyed some amazing apartments over the years. Cravath partnership + Wealthy wife = $20 million, Park Avenue pad.
* Who’s your favorite First Circuit judge? Cast your vote here.
* If you’re a right-winger hoping that Justice Stevens will step down soon, don’t hold your breath.
* Today’s D.C. Circuit: Despite the occasional catfight, it’s not as bitchy as it used to be. Sigh.
* Oppressed law clerks, your Devil Wears Prada is on its way. Coming soon to a bookstore near you: Chambermaid, by former Third Circuit clerk Saira Rao.

chicken mcnuggets Above the Law McDonalds.jpg* Chickens help us cope with “chronic anxiety” too. After they’re ground up and turned into McNuggets. [Nasty, Brutish & Short]
* “DO NOT put any person in this washing machine.” Unless they’re really smelly — and small. [Overlawyered; Associated Press]
* Eliot Spitzer has a man-date. In more ways than one. [New York Daily News]
* Joan Biskupic gets a book deal. For a bio that writes itself. [How Appealing]
* Judges should too. ‘Cause most of them couldn’t do their own Westlaw research if their lives depended on it. [TaxProf Blog]

Chambermaid cover art Saira Rao Chambermaid Saira Rao.JPGSaira Rao, who wrote the New York Post article we discussed this morning, has a juicy debut novel coming out this summer. Check out the blurb for Chambermaid:

The devil holds a gavel in this wickedly entertaining debut novel about a young attorney’s eventful year clerking for a federal judge. Sheila Raj is a recent graduate of a top-ten law school with dreams of working for the ACLU, but law school did not prepare her for the power-hungry sociopath, Judge Helga Friedman, who greets her on her first day. While her beleaguered colleagues begin quitting their jobs, Sheila is assigned to a high-profile death penalty case and suddenly realizes that she has to survive the year as Friedman’s chambermaid — not just her sanity, but actual lives hang in the balance.

With Chambermaid, debut novelist Saira Rao breaks the code of silence surrounding the clerkship and boldly takes us into the mysterious world of the third branch of US government, where the leaders are not elected and can never be fired. With its biting wit and laugh-out-loud humor, this novel will change everything you think you know about how great lawyers, and great judges, are made.

Saira Rao is well-equipped to write about the world of the federal judiciary. She previously clerked on the Third Circuit for Judge Dolores Sloviter — who has been described as a “judicial diva” and a “tough cookie”.
After clerking for Judge Sloviter, Saira worked at Cleary Gottlieb. She’s a graduate of UVA and NYU Law School.
“Chambermaid” sounds delicious. We’re counting down the days until July 2007!
Chambermaid: A Novel [Amazon.com]
Saira Rao bio [Findlaw]
Saira Rao profile [Friendster]
Update (4:55 PM): The WSJ Law Blog has put up a post that also links to Saira Rao’s NYP article and the Amazon blurb for her forthcoming novel.
Earlier: Biglaw Associates: Take the Money and Run

* The Volokh Conspiracy wins Best Law Blog. Congrats to the VC crew! [The Weblog Awards 2006 via 2nd Place Winner How Appealing]
* F&@% you, FCC!. [CNN.com]
* And in my-home-state-is-not-completely-backward news… [Jurist]
* If he sold it, Ron Goldman wants the money. [AP via FindLaw]
* Internet illiterate NY Mom, who doesn’t know “a kazaa from a kazoo,” is dropped from recording industry’s suit against her children. [AP via lexisONE]

oj simpson mug shot Above the Law no pun intended.jpgThe most infamous case of the last century has turned into one of the biggest P.R. disasters of this one.
After nearly universal criticism, from both within and outside the company, the News Corp. has pulled its plans to publish a book by O.J. Simpson — and to air a television interview with him — in which the ex-football star describes how he “might” have killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
Hypothetically, mind you. ‘Cause he didn’t. And he is still searching America, or at least every golf course in America, for the person who murdered his ex-wife.
(News flash: Even Rupert Murdoch will only go so far — or sink so low.)
For those of you who are well-versed in the legal issues surrounding publishing contracts, some questions from the Washington Post:

Who owns the book now? Will Simpson still be paid? And what will happen now to Regan, whom many in the industry condemn for what they consider bottom-feeding instincts while grudgingly admiring her audacity?

Some info about these issues, from the New York Times:

Standard publishing contracts call for a percentage of an author’s advance, usually up to 50 percent, to be paid when a contract is signed, and for the remainder to be paid when the finished book is accepted by the publisher. The [anonymous] executive [involved in the deal] said Mr. Simpson’s book was covered by a standard publishing contract.

In an interview last week, Judith Regan, the publisher, said ReganBooks, an imprint of HarperCollins, had signed a contract with “a manager who represents a third party” who owned the rights to Mr. Simpson’s account.

Because the News Corporation and ReganBooks decided on their own to cancel the book and the television special, that money is likely to still have to be paid.

Your further thoughts are welcome, in the comments or via email.
Under Pressure, News Corp. Pulls Simpson Project [New York Times]
News Corp. Pulls Plug On O.J. Book, Fox Special [Washington Post]
Earlier: This Is Why the Founding Fathers Gave Us the Double Jeopardy Clause

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