The benefits of approval are bounded only by the limits of human creativity and imagination.
The benefits of approval are bounded only by the limits of human creativity and imagination.
J.D. Salinger, the celebrated (and reclusive) author of The Catcher in the Rye, passed away yesterday. He was 91.
Salinger died of natural causes at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire, according to a statement from Salinger’s literary representative.
Is there a legal angle here?
If you happen to be on the frigid East Coast today, currently experiencing the coldest temperatures of the season, grab yourself a cup of cocoa and a copy of the Sunday New York Times. The NYT often has articles of interest to a legal audience, but this weekend’s edition has an especially high number of stories either by or about the boldface names of the legal profession. To wit:
1. Power of Attorney: Questions for John Yoo. Deborah Solomon interviews John Yoo, the Berkeley law professor perhaps most well-known for his authorship of the so-called “torture memos.” Considering her liberal politics and modus operandi as an interviewer — we’ve previously described her as “snarky, cranky, exceedingly direct” — we were expecting her to go to town on Yoo.
But Professor Yoo actually comes across very well in the short Q-and-A (and is looking newly svelte in the accompanying photo). He’s smart, funny, and charming — not a surprise to us, based on our personal interactions with him, but perhaps a surprise to some who know only the cartoon villain depicted by the mainstream media.
2. The 30-Minute Interview: Jonathan L. Mechanic. An interesting interview with real estate super-lawyer Jonathan Mechanic, chairman of the real estate department of Fried Frank (and previously profiled here). We learn that Mechanic, in addition to being a top real estate attorney, is also a real estate investor: he owns retail and commercial properties in Bergen County, NJ (where we grew up).
Three more stories, after the jump.
Earlier this week, we attended an interesting debate about the Google Books settlement. It featured Professor Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School, who argued against the settlement, and Jonathan Jacobson of Wilson Sonsini, who defended it.
The debate, held at the Cornell Club and sponsored by the Federalist Society, was moderated by Professor Scott Hemphill of Columbia Law School. ATL readers may remember the hunky Hemphill as one-half of July’s Couple of the Month.
Read more, after the jump.
Last month, we spent a week in D.C. doing reporting for “Why Lawyers Make So Much Money,” a piece we — used literally in this case, as it’s bylined by Kash and Lat — wrote for Washingtonian Magazine. We managed to find our way into the office of Robert Bennett, newly arrived at Hogan & Hartson from Skadden Arps. He gave us a tour of his memorabilia, though was miffed when he couldn’t find a photo from a fishing trip with Sandra Day O’Connor. (If you’ve read our piece, this story is a familiar one.)
While we were there, Bennett gave us a signed copy of his autobiography, In The Ring: The Trials of a Washington Lawyer. We mention this not to boast but so as not to run afoul of any blogger disclosure laws.
The book offers a retrospective on Bennett’s star-studded legal career, which includes stints as special counsel to the Senate during the Keating Five investigation; as defense attorney for Bill Clinton, Caspar Weingberger, and Judith Miller; and as a partner at Skadden Arps for twenty years, working on white collar crime cases.
A friend told us a story about D.C. power player autobiographies. When they come out, everyone rushes to the book store to get the book… then immediately flips to the index to see if they’re mentioned, and never opens the book again. This friend claims a journalist once put a piece of paper in the middle of a stack of books at the bookstore with his name and number and a message that said, “I don’t think people actually read these. Call me if you did.” Supposedly, his phone never rang.
Well, we did read Bennett’s book. It came out in 2008, so it’s already gone through a round of reviews, but we found it interesting to read in light of his unexpected move from Skadden to Hogan this year. From the tone of the book, one would have thought he was staying at Skadden forever.
We bring you some of the most interesting tidbits and words of wisdom from one of the greats in the legal field, after the jump.
We have another episode in the saga of Deidre Dare, one of our favorite laid-off lawyers. She was an attorney in Allen & Overy’s Russia office until she penned typed a salacious online novel about her expat adventures, which featured lots of drinking, sex, drugs, donkeys, and dwarves. After the firm let her go, she sued.
Dare’s still in Moscow, where she writes an often controversial column for the Moscow News called sExpat. The latest reveals that Deidre likes it rough:
Anyone who has spent even five minutes in bed with me knows that I have a strong proclivity for S&M. My experience in the area ranges from the mild (spanking) to the extreme (ball gags, golden showers and the like), according to how much experience my partner has and what he or she likes.
The column goes on to praise Russia’s abusive men. Dare writes: “If you’re hanging out with real men and you’re a little slutty, you’re going to get hit. Period.” Roll On Friday photoshops A&O’s chairman into being a “real man” here.
Ed. note: We at Above The Law do not condone physical violence against women. We do, however, condone violence against the commenter ShaFeef.
In a previous column, Dare said money was tight and suggested that prostitution might be a way out of her money woes. That might have led to more hitting than even Deidre likes. Luckily, she’s come up with a different way to make money. She’s written another book. Its title, fittingly, is SLUT.
Justin 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.
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.
* Change you can believe in? It looks like Obama has recruited a few “washington insiders”: 8 of the 10 top lawyers he has hired for his transition team are veterans of the Clinton administration. [Bloomberg.com]
* “Protesters galvanized by a dragging death that has stirred memories of the notorious James Byrd case rallied twice outside an eastern Texas courthouse to speak out against a judicial system they consider racist.” [Associated Press]
* Are you ready for your close-up Mr. Rehnquist? The Hoover institution released files documenting Rehnquist’s first three years on the Court, years filled with land-mark cases like Roe v. Wade and United States vs. Nixon. [New York Times]
* California Attorney general is pushing the Supreme Court to decide the legality of Prop. 8. The Court could begin to act as soon as Wednesday, when they have their weekly conference. [San Jose Mercury News]
* Say it ain’t so! Washington regulators have finally opened up the doors on Belgian-based beer company InBev’s acquisition of Anheuser Busch, which monopolizes
50% of the US beer market. The merger will make InBev the largest beer company in the world. [Courthouse News Service]
* Sorry Ohio…President-elect Obama is probably going to wait a while before overhauling NAFTA. [Bloomberg.com]
Earlier this year, we presented a series of threads on career alternatives for attorneys. As it turns out, there are things you can do with a law degree other than working for a large law firm — and now that large law firms are laying off lawyers and even dissolving, now is a good time to revisit the topic.
One career alternative we didn’t include in the first go-round was living by the pen — probably ‘cuz it’s pretty hard to pull off. As one commenter quipped about another daunting alternative (entrepreneurship), “maybe I should try out for the Yankees while I’m at it.”
Not everyone can be John Grisham or Scott Turow. Being a writer is not so much an alternative to being an attorney as it is something you can do on the side.
Unless your spouse is willing to let you quit your job and pursue the literary dream. Malcolm Gladwell of the New Yorker wrote a piece recently about creativity, and how it is not the sole provenance of the young. The piece revolves around an attorney who quit his job at Akin Gump to become a full-time writer and spent 18 years at it, eventually writing a book of short stories that won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award. All the while, his wife, a Thompson & Knight partner, acted as his literary patron (i.e., the family breadwinner).
If you have a patron, or if you have lots of creativity, or if you just love spinning tales, perhaps you should think about trying your hand at the writing craft.
Last night, we attended a panel discussion at the New York City Bar Association: Non-Fiction: True Crime Stories & the Truth about Being a Lawyer-Writer. Speaking were JD-holders Thomas Adcock of the New York Law Journal, former Brooklyn prosecutor Dennis Hawkins, and legal PR maven Rosemarie Yu. Thomas Adcock has written seven books, including Dark Maze, which received an Edgar award. Hawkins and Yu have recently had their work published in the non-fiction anthology Brooklyn Noir 3.
All three are patron-less, balancing work with writing. Check out their tips for other aspiring writers, from getting started to getting published, after the jump.