Books

Is that a Burberry check or are you just happy to see me?

* Burberry sues Body Glove over an iPhone cover that makes your phone look like the inside of a Burberry trench coat. If Body Glove ever makes a condom packet that looks like the inside of a Burberry trench coat, married men will be interested in the proceedings. [Fashionista]

* The new biography of Justice Brennan, by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel, sounds like it was worth the decade-long wait. [New York Times]

* UCI Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky has a new book out too. Progressives should have some nice reading material when they take their long international vacations after the November elections. [Los Angeles Times]

* If you’re at the point where you need a career counselor to remind you to shower, you probably need us to remind you to put your clothes back on, after your shower, before you go to your interview. [The Careerist]

* Unemployment can ruin a bunny’s birthday. [Tortbunnies]

* If you think about it, Jesus was actually a crap motivator. Seriously, he rallied what, a dozen out-of-work fishermen and a prostitute? Bill Belichick motivates more people to risk their lives for him every Sunday. Federal employees should think about that next time they organize a speaker series. [Out of the Storm News]

* This slideshow of terrible self-promoters includes a couple of lawyers. [Huffington Post]

* Congratulations to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who will be honored by the ABA next week for her work promoting the rule of law. [American Bar Association]

* Are you a current law student interested in juvenile justice policy and legal research? Help a sister out. [Dissertation Study Post]

As for doing what I like, I never do what I like! Ask my wife Joanna….

Justice Stephen Breyer, rejecting the notion that unelected judges can do whatever they want, at an event at the New York Public Library to promote his new book, Making Democracy Work: A Judge’s View.

Federal judges are people too — and I have proof. Earlier this week, one federal appellate judge accepted my friend request on Facebook. Another circuit judge emailed me — from a Gmail account (although we didn’t Gchat; that would have been too cool for words).

Judges are real people — with opinions, not just of the judicial kind, and with personalities. They have interesting lives — off the bench, and before they’re appointed to the bench. Judges are not grown in petri dishes, and donning the robes cannot and does not erase their personal or professional histories.

So I’m not quite sure why everyone is getting their proverbial undergarments [FN1] in a wad over a forthcoming memoir by Judge Nancy Gertner (D. Mass.). The pot was first stirred by the Boston Globe, which began its article as follows: “US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner has a memoir coming out in April, and it bears a very unjudicial title: In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate.”

“[A] very unjudicial title.” Really? Is this the Boston Globe, or the Boston Herald?

Let’s delve into the controversy….

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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?

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And an interview with the author, NYU Professor Daniel Shaviro.

Ian Graham is the author of Unbillable Hours: A True Story, which was published earlier this month. The book is a memoir of Graham’s time at Latham & Watkins, where he spent about five years as a litigation associate.

Unbillable Hours is not, however, a Latham exposé (which I’d eagerly read, by the way). Rather, the book centers on Graham’s work on a major pro bono case. The book’s publisher describes it as follows:

Landing a job at a prestigious L.A. law firm, complete with a six figure income, signaled the beginning of the good life for Ian Graham. But the harsh reality of life as an associate quickly became evident. The work was grueling and boring, the days were impossibly long, and Graham’s main goal was to rack up billable hours.

But when he took an unpaid pro bono case to escape the drudgery, Graham found the meaning in his work that he’d been looking for. As he worked to free Mario Rocha, a gifted young Latino who had been wrongly convicted at 16 and sentenced to life without parole, the shocking contrast between the quest for money and power and Mario’s desperate struggle for freedom led Graham to look long and hard at his future as a corporate lawyer.

Yesterday I chatted with Ian Graham about his book, his time at Latham, and how he made the transition from a legal career to a writing career.

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* Professor Orin Kerr wonders: Could Roe be indirectly responsible for the religious imbalance on the Court? [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Speaking of SCOTUS, Tom Goldstein suggested that an endorsement of Elena Kagan by Miguel Estrada (pictured) “has the potential to swing at least a half-dozen Republican votes.” Well, here you go. [PostPartisan / Washington Post]

* And speaking of SCOTUS and voting, how might the nomination of Lady Kaga affect the 2010 midterm elections? [Political Junkie / NPR]

* Could you reduce the law school experience to a six-word short story? [TaxProf Blog]

* Here are considerably more than six words about law school, in an open letter from a law school wife. [Lawyerist]

* Congratulations to lawyer-turned-writer Gregory Mose, whose novel Stunt Road was just honored by the Independent Publisher Book Awards. [Independent Publisher]

Remember Kaavya Viswanathan? She’s the Harvard graduate who, while still in high school, landed a two-book deal worth a reported $500,000. The first book, a young adult / chick-lit novel entitled How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, was published in April 2006, during Viswanathan’s sophomore year at Harvard.

And then things fell apart. To quote the blog Sepia Mutiny, “Kaavya Viswanathan got rich, got caught, and got ruined.” Shortly after the publication of Opal Mehta, the Harvard Crimson reported that various passages in the book appeared “strikingly similar” to portions of two young adult novels by Megan McCafferty.

Viswanathan was widely accused of plagiarizing — not just from McCafferty, but from Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot and Salman Rushdie. Her subsequent fall from grace, including the cancellation of her book and movie deals, made national and even international headlines (due to coverage back in her native India). She claimed that the similarities between her book and prior published works were unintentional, but given the number and extent of the apparently borrowed passages, some were incredulous. (For samples, see Wikipedia.)

After graduating from Harvard College in 2008, she went on to Georgetown Law, where she’s a member of the GULC class of 2011. Her arrival at Georgetown made Newsweek in February 2009:

Viswanathan is a first-year law student at Georgetown University, where Stephen Glass earned a J.D. after being fired from The New Republic for fabricating a series of articles….

How’d she manage to get accepted? Applicants can submit supplemental essays to explain themselves to the admissions committee, says Dean of Admissions Andrew Cornblatt. “It’s impossible to get amnesia about what we may have heard,” he says. “But in all cases we treat them just like any other applicant.”

It seems Georgetown isn’t the only institution treating Viswanathan “just like any other applicant.” Despite the tough fall recruiting season and her controversial past, Viswanathan, who just finished her 2L year, has landed a coveted summer associate position at a top law firm — one of Biglaw’s biggest and best names, in fact….

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Grover Cleveland is the author of Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer, an advice book for attorneys published earlier this year. As a partner at Foster Pepper PLC, one of the Northwest’s largest law firms, he helped many new attorneys learn how to practice law. While at Foster Pepper, he was named a Rising Star for three years in a row by Washington Law and Politics magazine.

Grover now holds an environmental policy position in Seattle. In this role, he has seen the world from the client’s perspective. This broad range of experience both as a supervising attorney and as a client gives him a unique perspective on the skills new lawyers need to succeed. (Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks also incorporates the wisdom of dozens of other lawyers that he interviewed in the course of his research.)

Earlier this week, we chatted with Grover about his book, advice he offers to young lawyers, and the state of the law firm economy, among other topics.

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Ed. Note: Our post on harsh rejection letters generated a lot of talk among people interested in applying to Small Law jobs. Donna Gerson — the author of Choosing Small, Choosing Smart — provided us with a list of tips that former-Biglaw associates should consider when applying to smaller firms.

I spend an enormous amount of time interviewing small firm practitioners throughout the U.S. and speaking to law students about the expectations small firm lawyers have when it comes to interviewing, hiring, and promotion.

The feedback from SOLOSEZ, the ABA’s solo and small firm mailing list, was on point. Take the time to write to an actual person at the firm and never use a “To Whom It May Concern” salutation. Mass mailings are the kiss of death and lawyers know when they’re getting a mail-merge monstrosity. Know what practice areas the firm engages in and write a cover letter that addresses one’s interest in those practice areas. An applicant’s cover letter ought to connect the dots for an employer and not simply recite one’s résumé. And – of course – job-seekers need to clean up their Internet presence. I cannot even begin to tell you some of the atrocious (and hilarious) stories I’ve heard over the years from legal employers about Facebook.

So what should former-Biglaw associates keep in mind when applying to Small Law?

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Ed. note: Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project. The book has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 15 weeks, ever since its publication (including hitting the #1 spot).

Although she’s now a writer, with a total of five bestselling and/or critically acclaimed books to her name, Rubin started her career as a lawyer. She graduated from Yale Law School, where she served as editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal, and clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court, for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Feel free to check out her blog, follow her on Twitter, or join the Happiness Project Facebook page.

We asked Gretchen Rubin to offer us some happiness advice aimed at a lawyerly audience. Her guest post appears below.

By Gretchen Rubin

A few years ago, I decided to do a happiness project. I spent a year testing the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. From my experience, to be happier, it helps to think about the little things in life—and also the big things. Here are some ideas specifically targeted to lawyers:

Tackle the little things: Happiness can seem like a lofty, abstract goal, but a great place to start is with your own body and daily schedule.

Get enough sleep. We adjust to chronic sleep deprivation and don’t realize how much it weighs on us. According to one study, a bad night’s sleep was one of the top two factors that upset people’s daily moods at work (along with tight work deadlines — another problem many lawyers face). It’s tempting to stay up late, especially if that’s the fun part of your day, but the morning comes fast. (Here are some sleep tips.)

Get some exercise—preferably outside. You don’t have to train for a marathon. Just go for a ten-minute walk at lunchtime. People who exercise are healthier, more energetic, think more clearly, sleep better, feel cheerier, and perform better at work. (Here are some tips for sticking to an exercise routine.)

More happiness pointers, after the jump.

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