* There’s been a changing of the guard at Sidley Austin. Carter Phillips, one of our nation’s preeminent appellate advocates, is now the sole chair of the firm’s executive committee after a one-year stint as co-chair. Congrats! [The Recorder]
* It looks like the trolls attorneys behind Prenda Law got benchslapped in the worst of ways — complete with a multitude of Star Trek references. We’ll likely have more on this later today. [Ars Technica]
* The California Supreme Court just ruined everyone’s high, because it ruled that cities and counties can ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Smoke ‘em while you’ve got ‘em, stoners. [Associated Press]
* Justin Bieber is being sued for copyright infringement, along with his musical mentor, Usher. Tween girl mob: ASSEMBLE! Defend your pop idol’s honor; after all, he just needed somebody to love. [Reuters]
On Sunday, Sidley Austin announced a regime change at the firm. Over the next year, veteran Supreme Court litigator Carter Phillips will become co-chair and eventually chair of the firm’s executive committee. In 2013 he will replace the current chair, Thomas Cole.
Currently, Phillips is managing partner of Sidley’s Washington D.C. office. He recently argued his 76th case in front of the Supreme Court. I had the opportunity to ask him about the Obamacare arguments last month.
Keep reading to learn more about the transition and to find out what it takes for an accomplished practicing attorney to take on a crucial business role…
* Wal-mart’s going to have a hard time keeping the price of this one down. The Ninth Circuit grants class action status to gender discrimination lawsuit against Wal-mart, with plaintiffs estimated to number two million women. [New York Times]
Okay, so the folks over at TMZ.com don’t chase them around yet. But here at ATL, we adore legal celebrities — and invite you to send in your encounters with them, for our Eyes of the Law sightings column.
Last Friday, for lovers of legal boldface names from the left or the right, William & Mary School of Law was the place to be:
William and Mary Law School (and the College) had a series of speakers of today, all wedged into a very tight schedule. They included:
At noon, former Dean of UC Irvine School of Law Erwin Chemerinsky. Unfortunately, I didn’t go to his talk, so I can’t say whether he talked about the controversy.
At 1 PM, UC Berkley professor (and evil incarnate if you believe some blogs) John Yoo spoke. Yoo said in his introduction that he was being “wedged in” between “the former Dean of UC Irvine” and Stuart Taylor, who was speaking at 2 on his book on the Duke rape case, “Until Proven Innocent.”
We also had a panel on Saturday on “Judicial Modesty,” which included such leading lights as Dahlia Lithwick, Michael McConnell, Carter Phillips and Jeffrey Rosen. See here (PDF).
Quite the weekend for legal geeks! (Er. You know. If I was one of them).
Although this tipster wasn’t at the Chemerinsky talk, other ATL readers were. Check out this video, posted on the blog of the W&M chapter of the American Constitution Society. Isn’t Chemerinsky adorable?
Additional discussion of the Erwin Chemerinsky and John Yoo appearances, after the jump.
We’re a little late on this (and blame our tardiness on associate pay fixation). But here are two interesting tidbits of Supreme Court gossip, from Tony Mauro of the Legal Times:
1. Carter Phillips’ Kin Is Alito Clerk [Legal Times]
One of Justice Samuel Alito’s incoming clerks, Jessica Phillips — who has been described as “beautiful and brainy” — is the daughter of renowned Supreme Court litigator Carter Phillips. This means that Jessica “will have no involvement in cases in which her father’s firm, Sidley Austin, participates” — which has ranged as high as 20 percent of the Court’s docket.
(Btw, Jessica Phillips is not the first female clerk whose father also clerked for the Court. Mauro ticks off a list of five daughters of male clerks who went on to become clerks themselves. Check it out here.)
2. New Job for Mrs. Roberts [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times] More on Jane Roberts’ New Job [The BLT]
Lawyer Jane Sullivan Roberts, the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. has a new job — and it’s not at a law firm. The leading legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa announced this morning that Mrs. Roberts is leaving Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s D.C. office to become leader of the In-House Practice Group in Major, Lindsey & Africa’s D.C. office.
Inquiring minds want to know: Will Jane Roberts continue to earn more than her husband in her new position?
(That was surely the case in her old job, when Jane Sullivan Roberts was a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop. Even though her most recent post at the firm was Executive Partner for Talent Development, which probably didn’t involve a lot of client-billable work, it would be shocking for a Biglaw partner to earn less than her hubby’s $212,100 salary as Chief Justice.)
[T]here was a large and enthusiastic turnout at Georgetown University Law Center April 26 as the Supreme Court Institute recognized four senior officials of the Clerk’s Office: Chief Deputy Clerk Chris Vasil, Deputy Clerk Gary Kemp, Deputy Clerk Cynthia Rapp, and Denise McNerney, the merits clerk. Even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stopped by to shake their hands.
Solicitor General Paul Clement extolled the Clerk’s Office…. Sidley Austin’s Carter Phillips seconded the motion, describing McNerney as the most important woman in his life — after those in his family.
Yikes. Carter Phillips is quite a romantic rival. He’s one of the country’s most celebrated Supreme Court litigators; a very wealthy man, as a longtime Sidley & Austin partner; and even a former Supreme Court clerk, to Chief Justice Warren Burger.
But look, underdogs can prevail in these battles for the heart of a beautiful woman. It happens all the time. Like in the movies.
So c’mon, Mr. Craigslist Poster — send some flowers to Denise McNerney, c/o U.S. Supreme Court, One First Street, Washington, DC 20003. We’re rooting for you!
P.S. We’d love to get our hands on a photo of Ms. McNerney. If you can help us out, please email us. Thanks.
P.P.S. No, this Denise McNerney isn’t the one that we’re looking for — she’s too old. We understand that Denise McNerney of SCOTUS fame is in her early 30′s. Clerk Power [Legal Times] Earlier: Desperately Seeking ‘The Supreme Court Clerk of My Heart’ ‘The Supreme Court Clerk of My Heart’: Not Talkin’ About Pam Talkin
In our report earlier today about Supreme Courtships, a forthcoming television show about “the personal and professional lives of six Supreme Court clerks and their supervisors,” we looked back on two failed TV shows about the Supreme Court: “First Monday” and “The Court.”
Judicial groupies were thrilled to see two shows about the Court on national television (despite the many inaccuracies and ridiculous plot lines). But their joy was fleeting.
Now, this correction. Not everyone who follows the Supreme Court was so pleased by the attention from Hollywood.
From a January 2002 article by Tony Mauro:
Complete with James Garner as a chief justice who smokes (like the real one), Joe Mantegna as an Italian-American associate justice who attends Mass (like the real one), and a Court with two women and one black justice (like the real one), ["First Monday"], if it succeeds, will probably impart more information about the nation’s highest court to the general public than a decade’s worth of routine activity by the real Supreme Court.
And that is what worries people like Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, a veteran Supreme Court advocate who is among a small number of Washington lawyers who have seen rough cut tapes of the first two episodes.
“Unbelievably smarmy,” says Phillips, who is not usually given to outbursts of hyperbole. “Vomitous.”
Look, it could have been worse. At least Phillips didn’t use profanity, as he has done before (in open court). He could have called the “First Monday” producers “motherf*****s” and told them to “eat s***.” Instead, he temperately dismissed their show as “vomitous.”
Why was Phillips so upset? Per Mauro:
Phillips confesses that he is a stickler for accuracy, and as such could not abide the slew of details that come out wrong in the show.
For one, the first episode was based erroneously on the premise that it takes five justices to grant review in a case, not four.
Relax, Carter! Look at the glass as half-full. You should have been pleased that the word “certiorari” was even uttered on national television, on a channel other than C-SPAN.
Another issue with “First Monday”:
Garner’s chief justice, an inveterate Oklahoma football fan, precedes the first Court session with a football-huddle-style handshake among the nine robed justices and the rallying cry “Let’s go out there and make history!”
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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