We’re deep into the lazy days of August — and today is Friday. So of course there’s news of a high-profile resignation from the Department of Justice.
From the New York Times:
The head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division announced Thursday that he was resigning, the latest in a long string of departures from the department in the midst of a furor over the leadership of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
The department said that the resignation of the official, Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim, had nothing to do with the recent controversies over Mr. Gonzales’s performance, and that Mr. Kim had been planning his departure for months.
We can confirm that. Kim’s resignation, effective at the end of this month, does not come as a surprise to DOJ insiders. Recall what we wrote in these pages almost two months ago:
Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim, who oversees the Justice Department’s important (and controversial) Civil Rights Division, will step down from his post before the end of the year. He was sworn in as AAG in November 2005, so by this fall he will have held the job for two years — a long-enough stint in that position.
Some of you have been asking for updates on Shanetta Cutlar, the high-powered Department of Justice lawyer who has generated some colorful stories in the past. If you’re not familiar with her, click here, and browse through the archives.
We don’t have anything terribly new to report on her. We hear that she has been on her “best behavior” ever since we started writing about her.
But since this is ATL Wayback Weekend, we’re happy to pass along something from back in June, which we never got around to writing up back then. A reader drew our attention to this Washington Post Career Track live web chat:
Washington, D.C.: I am a young attorney for the federal government. I loathe my current position because of a very moody and difficult supervisor (the situation is so horrible that half of my office is currently looking for new employment). I am desperate to leave this position, I am extremely stressed because of the work environment created by this supervisor. I have applied for 11 other federal positions.
While I wait to (hopefully) hear about one of those positions, can you recommend any other possible job search options? I really want to leave this position as soon as possible and I’ve only worked for the federal government (two years since law school).
Hmm… We wonder who this person’s boss might be. Any suggestions?
Discussion continues after the jump.
Thanks for the reminder. In an earlier post, we wrote: “We’ve been hearing interesting rumors about some possible departures at the Assistant Attorney General (AAG) level.” And since today is Friday, the favored day for DOJ resignations, we figured we might as well squeeze this in before lunchtime.
Some of the rumors have already come to pass — like the departure of Eileen O’Connor, as head of the Tax Division, and the departure of Rachel Brand, as head of the Office of Legal Policy. But there’s one resignation rumor that’s still outstanding.
We hear that Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim, who oversees the Justice Department’s important (and controversial) Civil Rights Division, will step down from his post before the end of the year. He was sworn in as AAG in November 2005, so by this fall he will have held the job for two years — a long-enough stint in that position.
If Wan Kim does resign from the Civil Rights Division, he can hardly be blamed. Getting scolded on Capitol Hill isn’t much fun. Especially when most of the things you’re getting scolded about are the fault of your predecessor, former Acting AAG Bradley J. Schlozman (who is allegedly not the nicest guy in the world, according to some people). Senators Deride Justice Reassignments [Washington Post] Earlier: Why Did the Prom Queen Leave the Party? Musical Chairs: Rearranging the Proverbial Deck Chairs at Main Justice?
* It’s hard out here for a suburban, country club dwelling, former porn star pimp. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
* And by “reshape” we mean “slowly eliminate altogether.” [New York Times]
* House closes VT gun background check loophole. [Jurist]
* Only difference is, once I get my pants on, I make gold records! [CNN]
* It’s also hard out here for a disabled, middle-aged, drug-dealing pimp. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Ty Clevenger, a former attorney in the Special Litigation Section (“SPL”) of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is the one who got the ball rolling with respect to colorful anecdotes about Shanetta Cutlar, the charismatic and strong-willed chief of the Section.
Clevenger sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty raising concerns about Cutlar’s leadership of SPL. Shortly thereafter, Clevenger was effectively fired by Cutlar the next day.
As for Clevenger’s letter, the DAG assigned it to Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, for a response. Earlier this month, Clevenger received the following from Wan Kim:
Letters to McDonald’s, complaining about insufficient mintiness in Shamrock Shakes,* receive responses evincing greater concern.
Now we understand why Shanetta Cutlar was comfortable enough in her position to wear a tiara to a recent meeting of DOJ section chiefs. We predict she will remain in power at SPL long after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has left the building (which may not be saying much — but you get our point).
* Yes, Shamrock Shakes are back! We enjoyed one in Miami earlier this week.
Some of you have wondered about the drop-off in ATL coverage of our favorite DOJ diva: Shanetta Y. Cutlar, Chief of the Special Litigation Section at the U.S. Department of Justice (“SPL”). Cutlar has been previouslydescribed in these pages as “deliciously imperious” and “a great diva,” and we’ve published a number of colorful stories about her.
We haven’t written much about Shanetta Cutlar lately because we haven’t gotten many new tips about her. Perhaps she’s keeping a low profile these days?
Fortunately, more grist for the SYC mill may be on its way, courtesy of Capitol Hill. From a tipster:
House Judiciary has an oversight hearing for Civil Rights next week. Not sure what day, but I’m trying to find out. I think SPL may be discussed.
And from another source:
The “scandal” of the firing of the US Attys will be the camel’s nose — a way to have full blown congressional hearings on DOJ, especially Civil Rights.
Oooh, exciting! We do hope that the House and Senate Judiciary Committees start sniffing around the Special Litigation Section. Maybe Chuck Schumer will become our truffle pig, unearthing tasty morsels about Shanetta Cutlar and her reign over SPL.
If you have any info about the upcoming oversight hearing — or, for that matter, any updates on what Shanetta Cutlar has been up to lately — please email us. Thanks. Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)
In reacting to our worshipful coverage of Shanetta Y. Cutlar, Chief of the Special Litigation Section at the U.S. Department of Justice, some of you have questioned her “diva” status. It has been suggested that while Shanetta Cutlar may have the temperament of a diva, she lacks the talent or ability of one.
We disagree. And we think the latest information we’ve received about SYC establishes that when it comes to office politics and Machiavellian maneuvering, few are the equal of Shanetta Y. Cutlar.
Just like the divine Anna Wintour, Shanetta Cutlar is a shrewd and savvy woman, who knows how to “work it.” She has risen to a position of power and prominence within her profession, through a potent combination of smarts, charm, and good old-fashioned ruthlessness.
From a former employee of the Special Litigation Section:
Shanetta started with the Special Litigation Section (SPL) as a intern. Within ten years she worked her way up, managing to slide, wiggle and charm her way into the prominent position of Section Chief.
As she quickly moved up the ladder, passing one superior and mentor after another, Shanetta kept a mental tab of each and every accounting in which she felt she was wronged and treated unfairly as a line attorney. Upon taking her throne, she instantly placed her strategic plan into motion, and quickly begin to execute her hit list.
She had the current head secretary placed into the file room until she received a new, hand-selected head secretary. Rumor had it that the exiled head secretary treated Shanetta “mean.” Wow…
As we’ve discussed in these pages, certain concerns have been raised with respect to the diva-licious Shanetta Y. Cutlar’s management of the Special Litigation Section, in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. But figuring out how to deal with the Shanetta Cutlar situation is a bit tricky.
We recently learned of one possible solution:
Check out this DOJ posting, seeking a Director of the Professional Development Office in the Civil Rights Division.
When Albert Moskowitz was [eased] out as chief of the Criminal Section [of the Civil Rights Division] last year, he was put in this position. After a few weeks, he left for the Criminal Division.
I wonder if Shanetta Cutlar has been advised to apply for this opening.
This “Director of Professional Development” gig sounds quite cushy — a veritable sinecure at the DOJ. It carries with it a six-figure salary and job responsibilites that are vague and touchy-feely. It sounds like the perfect place to stick a senior official that you want to remove from her current position, but in a discreet, non-controversial, face-saving manner (i.e., without firing her or asking her to tender her resignation).
Our curiosity was piqued, so we did some follow-up. Discussion continues, after the jump.
As regular ATL readers well know, we’ve been offering wall-to-wall coverage of Shanetta Y. Cutlar. If you’re not familiar with her, Ms. Cutlar is the nightmarish awesomely overachieving diva who oversees the Special Litigation Section (SPL), part of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Shanetta Cutlar is a strong leader with a distinctive managerial style. She drives lawyers and staff away in droves sometimes rubs people the wrong way. But even if it’s lost on her underlings, we appreciate SYC’s deliciousness!
Some of you have wondered whether Chief Cutlar is aware of ATL’s coverage of her and, if so, what she thinks of it. We had heard through the grapevine that she is aware of this site and finds the attention amusing. Now we have more concrete confirmation.
At a recent meeting of the Section Chiefs of the Civil Rights Division, Shanetta Y. Cutlar whipped out a tiara. She then placed it on her head and proclaimed:
“I GUESS I’M A DIVA NOW!!!”
This is a clear reference to ATLs’ naming Cutlar our DOJ Diva of the Day — on two separateoccasions.
We draw the following conclusions from this tiara incident:
1. Shanetta Cutlar is even more fabulous than we thought. The woman owns a tiara, for chrissakes. And she brings it to meetings of high-level DOJ officials.
2. Shanetta Cutlar has a healthy, self-deprecating sense of humor. The commenters who defend her so earnestly on ATL, like “Life” — see this thread — need to relax. They should follow their idol’s lead, and just laugh it off.
3. Shanetta Cutlar is completely confident in her ability to keep her post. She’s unfazed by the attention she has received, and she’s unfraid of, say, congressional investigations of SPL. She knows she’s not going anywhere.
WE LOVE YOU SHANETTA!!!
P.S. Where did SYC get the tiara? On a totally random note, our cousin-in-law is a leading maker of wedding tiaras.
We feel like we’re running an online group therapy session. Pretty much every week, another ex-employee of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section (SPL) writes in to us, so he or she can vent their justifiable frustrations whine about the horrific challenging experience of working under super-diva Shanetta Y. Cutlar. Writing in to ATL seems to be a therapeutic experience for these people.
As we mentioned yesterday, one former SPL employee sent us a copy of their completed exit survey. We reprint it after the jump. But first, here’s an introduction to what you’re about to read:
I quit SPL largely because of Shanetta’s mismanagement of the section. I’m attaching a copy I kept of my exit survey — though some of the fields did not print in full, and I redacted some fields to remove info related to my personal identity.
Feel free to post any portions you’d like…. You might want to consider submitting a FOIA request for a full copy of this and any other exit surveys or other information related to evaluations / criticisms of Shanetta if you haven’t already done so.
In addition to the written exit survey, I had an exit interview with the front office when I left (which was over two years ago), and I stressed the issues people were having with Shanetta during that interview. So the front office has been aware of the issues with her at least since then, if not earlier.
Interesting. According to this tipster, the folks in the “front office” — i.e., the DOJ powers-that-be — have been aware of Shanetta Cutlar’s distinctive management style for quite some time.
Fortunately, they have had the wisdom to leave well enough alone — despite complaints from folks who just aren’t up to the task of enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws. May Shanetta Cutlar reign forever over the Special Litigation Section!!!
Excerpts from this disgruntled lawyer’s exit questionnaire, after the jump.
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 seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney are still in Hong Kong and will stay FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS WEEK. We still have a handful of available slots for meetings with our Asia Chronicles fans. If we have not been in touch lately, reach out and let us know when we could meet! There is no need for an agenda at all. Most of our in-person meetings on these trips are with folks who understand that improving a legal practice through lateral hiring is an information-driven process that takes time to handle correctly.
Regarding trends in lateral US associate hiring in Hong Kong, we of course keep much of what we know off of this blog. Based on placement revenue, though, Kinney is having one of our most successful years ever in Asia. We are helping a number of our law firm clients with M&A, fund formation, cap markets, project finance, FCPA and disputes openings. These are very specific needs in many cases, so a conversation with us before jumping in may be helpful. As always, we like to be sure to get the maximum number of interviews per submission, using a well-informed, highly targeted, and selective approach, taking into account short, medium and long-term career aims.
Making a well informed decision during a job search is easier said than done – the information we provide comes from 10 years of being the market leader in US attorney placements at the top tier firms in Asia. There is no substitute for having known a hiring partner since he/she was an associate or for having helped a partner grow his or her practice from zip to zooming, and this is happily where we stand today – with years of background information on just about every relevant person in all the markets we serve, and most especially in Hong Kong/China/Greater Asia. So get in touch and get a download from us this week if we can fit it in, or soon in any case!
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.