Clerkships

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

michael lee mike lee christopher paolella chris paolella matthew schwartz matt schwartz gordon todd.JPGsamuel alito jr samuel a alito jr justice alito.jpgSorry it has taken us so long. As promised months ago, we now begin our series profiling current Supreme Court clerks (aka the “October Term 2006″ or “OT 2006″ law clerks).
We’ll be going chambers by chambers, starting with the most junior justice. Here are the four law clerks to Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

1. Michael S. Lee (BYU ’97/Benson (D. Utah)/Alito)

2. Christopher J. Paolella (Harvard ’99/Alito)

3. Matthew A. Schwartz (Columbia ’03/Alito)

4. Gordon D. Todd (UVA ’00/Beam)

As a member of the Alito extended family explained to us, here’s the key to understanding the Alito chambers: 3:1. This golden ratio perfectly captures the demographics of the OT 2006 Alito clerks. Consider:

1. Familial status: three are married with children, one is not (Chris Paolella — married, but no kids yet).

2. Undergraduate institution: three are Princetonians, one is not (Michael Lee — BYU).

3. Prior Alito clerkship: three previously clerked for then-Judge Alito on the Third Circuit, one did not (Gordon Todd).

4. Religious affiliation: three are Christian,* one is not (Matthew Schwartz — he’s Jewish).

5. College debate: three were gods of the parliamentary debate circuit, and former presidents of the American Parliamentary Debate Assocation (APDA); one was not (Michael Lee).

But we wouldn’t want such commonalities to overshadow the individuality of these gents. Check out our profiles of Messrs. Lee, Paolella, Schwartz, and Todd — after the jump.
* Mitt Romney footnote: Michael Lee is Mormon, which we consider to be Christian. Presidential candidate Romney hopes that evangelical Christians voting in the Republican primaries will agree with us.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice Alito’s OT 2006 Law Clerks”

Last week we asked you for funny Halloween-related stories, including descriptions of wacky costumes or festivities. We were disappointed by your responses.
So we had to turn to our neighbor to the north. These days, Canada is ascendant. Canadians are beating out Americans for jobs at top U.S. law firms. They have Supreme Court justices cool enough to take nude cruises.
And now they’re winning the Halloween costume arms race. Check out this photo:
halloween costumes tax court of canada.jpg
Who are these people? Why, they’re none other than the costumed clerks of the Tax Court of Canada. An explanation of their attire, from TaxProf Blog:

Back Row (from left to right): Captain Income Splitting, Canada Revenue Agency Collections Agent, the Proposed Tax Credit for Child Fitness, Scientific Research Deduction, and Farmer Gunn (of Gunn v. R., 2006 FCA 281).

Front Row (left to right): Valuation Day 1971, Tax on Royalties, and the Competent Authority for the Canada-Barbados Tax Treaty.

Canada: Even their tax lawyers are cooler than our tax lawyers.
Halloween and Taxes, Part II [TaxProf Blog]
Earlier: Prior Above the Law coverage of Canada (scroll down)

While we were in Portland, Oregon, for the law clerk reunion in celebration of Ninth Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain’s 20th anniversary on the bench, we took oodles and oodles of pictures. We shared two of them with you yesterday.
We’ll be publishing more photographs from the reunion in the near future. Unfortunately, it’s taking us hours — literally — to review, resize, and upload dozens and dozens of pics (another reason why we’d love some help around here).
For the time being, here’s a (slightly fuzzy) photo, along with some Supreme Court clerk hiring news:
Marah Stith and AJ Bellia.JPG
The hottie on the left, with the beautifully toned arms (even more buff in person), is current O’Scannlain clerk Marah Stith. The motorcycle-riding Marah has just been hired by Justice Clarence Thomas for an October Term 2009 clerkship. Congratulations, Marah!
The boyishly cute gentleman on her right: Notre Dame Law School professor AJ Bellia, also one of the Elect. Professor Bellia clerked at all three levels of the Article III judiciary, for Judge William Skretny (W.D.N.Y.), Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain (9th Circuit), and Justice Antonin Scalia (OT 1997).
Professor Bellia is married to another legal academic superstar: fellow Notre Dame law prof (and member of the Elect) Patricia Bellia (nee Patricia Small). After graduating from Yale Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal, she clerked for Judge José Cabranes of the Second Circuit, followed by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (OT 1996).
Here is their NYT wedding announcement (of course). The Bellias, in addition to being brilliant and well-loved by the ND student body, have two adorable daughters: Katherine and Molly.
Katherine is only three years old (almost four), and Molly is not even a year old. But given the impressive pedigrees of their parents — A.J. and Tricia Bellia, the Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf of the legal academy — we expect Katherine and Molly to go on to greatness.
Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito: Do either of you have clerkship openings for OT 2026 and OT 2029?

knife juggling.jpgNo, it’s not Monday all over again. Yes, our website content is experiencing that “not so fresh” feeling right now. Our posts from the past two days appear to be AWOL.
We are aware of the problem, and hopefully these posts should be reappearing sometime soon. They still exist, in the ether of the internet; so if you have the permalinks, you can still access them. They’re just not on the main page. (Long story, we’ll spare you the details.)
Speaking of one of the “vanished” posts — Clerkship Application Fun: Judge Danny Boggs’s “General Knowledge Test” — we have a correction to make. Yesterday we reported as follows:

Is Judge Boggs’s trivia quiz the most odd law-clerk screening device? Actually, maybe not. This year, Judge Roger Gregory of the Fourth Circuit had clerkships applicants do a cold reading of a play during their interviews. To clerk, or not to clerk? That is the question.

Sadly, we’ve learned that Judge Gregory does NOT make all clerkship interviewees demonstrate their thespianic abilities in front of him. Rather, he only asked one applicant — who listed acting experience on her resume — to do the cold reading. How disappointing!
Job seekers, there is a moral to this story: Don’t lie on your resume. Yes, it’s obvious — even though surveys show the practice is widespread. But there is an entirely self-interested, Machiavellian reason for honesty: You could very well get busted during an interview.
You might think to yourself: “Hey, why shouldn’t I list Tagalog on my resume? Sure, I don’t know a single word. But what are the chances I’ll be asked to speak any?” But when the judge’s Filipino secretary says “magandang gabi” as you walk through the door, you know you’re screwed…
And definitely don’t list “knife juggling” on your resume if you don’t possess this skill. Many judges’ chambers, as well as many law firms, have small kitchens — with complete knife collections. Getting called on your dishonesty could be a very painful experience.
Earlier: Clerkship Application Fun: Judge Danny Boggs’s “General Knowledge Test”

paris hilton.jpgVoter turnout in our ATL reader poll, Who Is the Paris Hilton of the Federal Judiciary?, has been surprisingly good. Not as good as turnout in our ERISA Hotties Contest; but certainly stronger than the anemic response to the August 2006 Couple of the Month survey.
If you haven’t already voted, you can review the field and cast your ballot by clicking here. Please note that the poll is being administered by Pollhost. As a result, we have no control over any technological glitches (e.g., being told you already voted when you didn’t — this is probably because someone else in your office already did, and Pollhost treated that IP address as yours).
At the current time, Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit — the reigning male Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary — has a strong lead. But his colleague on the Ninth Circuit, Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw — the federal judiciary’s #2 Female Superhottie, as well as its #1 Gay Icon — is running right behind him (her Manolos be damned).
Here’s what one reader had to say about the results thus far:

I am astounded by the vote tally. Judge Kozinski is no Paris Hilton. He’s more like Sean Puffy Combs.

We see this reader’s point. First, Paris Hilton is a woman — and oh what a woman! So the three female judges may have a better claim to her bejeweled mantle than the two men.
Second, the Kozinski-Combs comparison is strong: both men are international superstars, with devoted fans, who are believed to enjoy tequila and fabulous parties.
(But, with all due respect to Judge Kozinski, Sean Combs is a better dresser. The black velvet tux that he wore to the Oscars two years ago is way more stylish than any black robe.)
With the voting well underway, it’s time to declare when the contest will end. The polls will close on Tuesday, September 26, at 1 PM (Eastern time). This will allow the candidates to campaign over the weekend (e.g., by spamming all their former clerks). It will also allow West Coast readers — and contestants — to vote one last time when they get into work that morning.
We wish these five distinguished jurists the best of luck in their quest for this distinction. If they have any campaign messages to disseminate, we invite them to email us.
Think about it, Your Honors. Wouldn’t “The Paris Hilton of the Federal Judiciary” look great in the “Miscellany” section of your Almanac of the Federal Judiciary write-up? Fun stuff!
Earlier: ATL Reader Poll: The Paris Hilton of the Federal Bench

job hunting.jpgSince fall is job hunting season in the legal profession, both in terms of firm jobs and judicial clerkships, ATL offers you this “public service announcement”: our top ten interview tips.
We’ve received requests for interview advice from readers. Rather than repeat ourselves in emails, we thought we’d just write our “wisdom” down in a single post. It’s essentialy an outgrowth of our continuing series of Interview Horror Stories, which give you an idea of what NOT to do during a job interview.
1. Review your social networking site profiles (if any) for appropriateness. Here’s what one reader had to say:

Guess what. People making hiring and career decisions about you can indeed use Google, MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, etc. So can clients who are paying $300 or more per hour for your services. To the extent possible, you might want to make an effort to make yourself appear halfway professional. Or at least get rid of the materials that make you look like a drunken fool.

Yeah, that picture of you chugging a forty is pretty funny — but you should probably remove it. See also this cautionary tale, from the New York Times.
2. Make sure your breath is fresh. Please, don’t inflict halitosis upon your interviewer. You can check your breath by breathing into your cupped hand and sniffing (quasi-gross, but effective). Bring along a tiny packet of those Listerine strips, which you can pop discreetly when needed.
3. No gum during the interview. Bad breath is verboten; but so is chewing gum, even of the breath-freshening kind. We shouldn’t have to tell you this, but we do.
And don’t try the trick of sticking it in an upper corner of your mouth, so you can resume chewing it later; it can affect your speech. When the interview is done, treat yourself to a fresh piece. You deserve it!
4. Get Them to Start Talking About Themselves. This is everyone’s favorite topic. They are as bored with you as you are with them, so avoid you and make it about them. (Gavel bang: John Carney, a former practicing lawyer and editor of DealBreaker, our big brother blog.)
5. Cologne or Perfume? Probably safest not to — especially if you’re interviewing with this guy (he bans it in chambers).
If you do, select a subtle scent — e.g., not Drakkar Noir — and use it sparingly. (We like Eau d’Orange Verte by Hermès.)
Oh, but a resounding “yes” to showering — and deodorant.
The rest of our interview advice appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A PSA from ATL: Top Ten Interview Tips”

paris hilton.jpgToday is the first day for judicial clerkship interviews under the official Law Clerk Hiring Plan (which some judges follow, and some judges don’t). We’re going to celebrate the occasion with a judge-related poll.
Here at Above the Law, we love ourselves some Paris Hilton. She’s beautiful, blonde, and rich. She’s fabulous and glamorous. She’s a gifted model, actress, singer, dancer, and businesswoman. (And yes, she’s good at that, too.)
Here are some quotes from a recent New York Sun article about Paris that capture some of our feelings about her:

Says Camille Paglia: “She feels the Zeitgeist. She has that dancer’s feel for the camera, for the observing eye, and she produces fantastic still pictures.” Ashley Barrett, global PR director for Coty Prestige, has added, “She is very clever about giving the press what they want — provocative fashion, an ever-increasing list of projects, scandal. She gives great paparazzi.”

Some people deride Paris Hilton as being “famous for nothing” or “famous for being famous.” We disagree; but if this were true, it would only make Paris more fantastic. It would make the purest incarnation of fame possible: fame undiluted by the distracting presence of accomplishment.
And, as everyone knows, we also love ourselves some federal judges. So here’s today’s poll:

Who is the Paris Hilton of the federal judiciary?

Here are the contenders and what they share in common with Paris:

Judge Maryanne Trump Barry (Third Circuit): ’cause she’s a filthy rich heiress (daughter of the late real estate magnate Fred Trump, and big sister of The Donald).

Judge Alex Kozinski (Ninth Circuit): ’cause he’s a genius at self-promotion.

Judge Richard Posner (Seventh Circuit): ’cause he’s a multitalented public intellectual.

Judge Shira Scheindlin (Southern District of new York): ’cause she’s a Gotham-based biatch difficult woman.

Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw (Ninth Circuit): ’cause she’s a blonde diva — and HOTT!!!

Who is the Paris Hilton of the federal judiciary?
Judge Maryanne Trump Barry (3d Cir.)
Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.)
Judge Richard Posner (7th Cir.)
Judge Shira Scheindlin (S.D.N.Y.)
Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw (9th Cir.)
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com


HAPPY VOTING!!!
Update: Paris Hilton: When the Polls Will Close
Paris Hilton: She’s With the Brand [New York Sun]

white suit.jpgTomorrow is the first day for clerkship interviews under the official Law Clerk Hiring Plan (which some judges follow, and some judges don’t). So it’s fitting and proper that our next interview anecdote relates to a clerkship interview with a federal judge:

I clerked for a federal court of appeals judge. The judge’s chambers were located in a converted local post office in a suburb, so the judge permitted us to dress casually. (Very casually, including the judge — sweatshirts and tee shirts were not out of the question, especially given the antiquated HVAC system). This was usually a big selling point among clerkship applicants, who of course arrived for their interviews dressed in business suits.

One day, after a nicely dressed, well-credentialed law student came through on an interview, the judge came out of her office with a rather amused look on her face. She recounted that, sitting in her office during the private interview, the applicant asked about the dress code. She gave her usual spiel that casual dress was fine, joking about the poor ventilation.

The student then asked her earnestly if it would be ok if he wore a suit to work if he were hired. Puzzled, she said sure, but asked why. He said, with a straight face, that he thought it was “more professional.”

Needless to say, an offer was not forthcoming.

It’s amazing how so many brilliant law students — and lawyers — can be so tone-deaf socially.
Earlier: Interview Horror Stories: Sports Night
Interview Horror Stories: The Roll Recycler

Here’s the fourth post in our continuing series about why there’s nothing wrong with writing about Supreme Court clerks. Prior installments are available here (Part 1), here (Part 2), and here (Part 3).
We’d also like to direct your attention to this excellent comment by a reader — replete with an eloquent quote from Schopenhauer. It’s like the metaphysical version of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
The balance of this post, making the fourth point in our multi-part argument, appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerks Are Fair Game: Part 4″

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