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.
We’ll get back to Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell in a minute. Here’s a quick update on our coverage of Shanetta Cutlar, the embattled fantabulous chief of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section.
After our last post, we received some interesting tips:
“When SYC brought her sons into work, one walked around the floor, popping into attorneys’ offices. He would say: ‘My mom tells you what to do. My mom can fire you.’ He was about six. Now, one has to think, where does a six-year-old get something like that?”
“Another time when SYC brought her sons in, a beloved security guard was making small talk with the boys. She turned to him and said, in a condescending tone: ‘Do you think they don’t have a Daddy? They already have a father. There is no need for you to speak to them.’”
“At [a recent] staff meeting, SYC gave orders for her troops to drum up Access to Reproductive Health Clinics and Places of Religious Worship, and Religious Exercise of Institutionalized Persons (FACE & RUPLA) cases. Apparently the Section has an underwhelming amount…. Pretty thin for statutes touted as part of the section’s mandate.”
“SYC and her loyal Principal Deputy positioned their offices so each exit from the building would be covered. A favorite pastime is to monitor the comings and goings of the staff. If anyone tries to slip out early or take a long lunch, they are called on the carpet and asked for a leave slip. Who says there’s waste in government? We pay an SES [Senior Executive Service -- a highly paid federal govt. official] to watch out the window!!”
“Apparently your coverage of SYC is the talk of DOJ managers, even those in other Divisions. Front office insiders expressed “concern” over the coverage at a recent lunch. They were appalled at the behavior and the fact that it’s public.”
That last item is especially interesting — but it makes us nervous. Please, front office people: Keep your hands off our Shanetta!
In addition to the foregoing comments, we received the exit questionnaire of another former SPL employee — one who hasn’t been in touch with us before.
It contains some good stuff. We’ll be posting excerpts in the near future. Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar
I am sick and tired of all of you jelly-backed spineless weasels who write in with your “anonymous” monikers. Even you cowards who used to work for Shanetta should be man or woman enough to step up to the plate and identify yourselves instead of hiding behind the anonymous tags. How gutless!
If you carefully check the records, you will find that real substantive civil rights work is going forth in the Special Litigation Section. I would say that this is quite an accomplishment considering the current administration and its horrible record on civil rights issues.
No one talks about all the in-house sniping and back-stabbing that went on when she took the job. Plenty of mud-slinging and back-biting by would-be saboteurs galore. The hope was that she would go away and guess what – she’s still standing….
[D]on’t tell me that some of the attacks were not racially motivated. Check yourselves on that. Anyway, you idiots need to get a life and leave this woman alone.
As noted, this comment was signed by “Thailour Preston.”
Now we don’t seek to unmask our commenters. We respect their anonymity; it allows them to speak freely, which is great. We’re big believers in the First Amendment around here.
But anonymity does allow people to play pranks or assume personas. For example, colorful commenter “Leona” — who posed as a super-religious, anti-gay Christian woman — owned up to being a joke (in real life, a gay guy living in Cambridge, MA). Similarly, some of you have wondered whether “Loyola 2L” is a fictional identity.
So you never know for certain who’s posting what around here. But one of you did email us to point out an interesting coincidence:
Here is a bio (PDF) for Bishop Brian Garner. Someone has already noted the close relationship between Brian Garner and SYC, one of his congregants.
Look at the name of Brian’s wife: Robin Thailour Preston. Sound familiar?
If commenter Thailour Preston is in fact Robin Thailour Preston, the wife of Shanetta Cutlar’s minister, then she may be the only SYC defender who has identified herself by her real name. Maybe the only person in the comments besides you and Ty who has used a real name?
Last month we wrote about how Docket Review is conducted over at the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section (SPL). Attorneys who have worked under Shanetta Cutlar, chief of the section, have described Docket Review with her as an excruciating experience.
Since then, we’ve received some more information about the process. A recent email from a former SPL employee begins:
Many, including myself, are so grateful for your Shanetta Cutlar coverage. Many are able to vent and tell their true stories — or shall I say nightmares.
Your coverage has been lighthearted in tone. But with all due repect, the unprofessional mental, emotional and physical cruelty inflicted by Shanetta is indeed a FACT. This is a cry for help.
Many staff members, including deputies, have complained of physical illness related to the toxic stressful working environment within the Special Litigation Section. Some SPL staff have complained of severe headaches, viomitting and diarrhea.
Continued commentary, including a behind-the-scenes look at “Docket Review,” after the jump.
Not surprisingly, we loved The Devil Wears Prada (both the movie and the book). In the film, we ate up every last crumb of Meryl Streep’s delicious performance.
But it wasn’t perfect. For example, we hated the scene in the Paris hotel room when Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), looking dreadful in a bathrobe and without her make-up, breaks down in front of her assistant, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway). Miranda starts sobbing about her impending divorce and how it will affect “the twins.”
Meryl Streep is a great actress, so she was able to pull it off (barely). But anyone else would have made us cringe. Please, Hollywood: in your next movie about a great diva, spare us the obligatory “let’s humanize the bitch-on-wheels” scene.
Okay, enough preliminaries. We have some more news about the Justice Department’s Shanetta Cutlar (at right), Section Chief of the Special Litigation Section.
If true, it’s deeply troubling. Read all about it, after the jump.
Some of you disagree, but we consider the Justice Department’s Shanetta Y. Cutlar to be a great diva. Based on the term’s origin in the world of opera, we define a “diva” as a woman of tremendous talent, whose ability is matched only by her difficult temperament.
By this standard, Shanetta Cutlar qualifies. In terms of talent, SYC has risen to a position of great power and prestige within the DOJ. She has been highly successful and effective in that post, efficiently moving a huge caseload, and advancing the federal government’s civil rights agenda.
As for her temperament — well, we don’t need to remind you about that. We’ve filled many pages with tales of how SYC runs the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section (“SPL”). These stories have come from former employees, both lawyers and staff members, who have worked under Ms. Cutlar.
The more we post about Shanetta Cutlar, the more tips flow in from disgruntled ex-employees. One recent email provided a lengthy enumeration of SYC’s alleged foibles as a manager.
We took the substance of that list and reworked it, transforming it into SYC’s Ten Tips for Aspiring Divas — the kind of thing you might see as a sidebar in Cosmo. You can check it out after the jump.
We’re so excited. Our girlfriend SYC has made the big leagues! Shanetta Y. Cutlar, the successful and high-powered lawyer who oversees the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section, is the subject of an article in today’s Legal Times. We’re praised her profusely in these pages; but we’re glad that she’s finally getting her due in the mainstream media.
Ty Clevenger, 37, a former Washington Times reporter and line attorney in the section who was fired in October, has accused veteran Section Chief Shanetta Cutlar of being “abusive toward attorneys and support staff,” specifically those hired by Schlozman.
Among Clevenger’s allegations: Secretaries were ordered not to assist him with an eight-hour typing project, another attorney was publicly berated for using a paper clip rather than a binder clip on a document, and an intern was reprimanded for not greeting Cutlar while passing her in the hallway.
In his whistleblower complaint, Clevenger included a copy of a statement by the intern, Deborah Meiners, 24, to a DOJ ombudsman about the hallway incident.
“I did get the sense that this was a common occurrence,” says Meiners, now a third-year law student, of her treatment.
For those of you who have been wondering if Shanetta Cutlar is aware of her newfound celebrity, the answer is probably yes — now that the Legal Times has contacted her office for comment:
Cutlar’s office referred questions to a DOJ spokeswoman, who issued a statement saying the department is looking into the allegations.
Interesting. Does anyone know what “looking into the allegations” entails?
Is the DOJ conducting a full-blown internal investigation of SPL? Or is it just AAG Wan Kim getting on the phone to Shanetta and saying, “This is all silliness that I don’t need to pay attention to, right?”
We hope the latter. As we’ve previously pointed out, Shanetta Cutlar is just doing her job — and exceptionally well, at that. We hope that a bunch of whiners and crybabies don’t interfere with SYC’s longstanding efforts to vindicate federal civil rights laws on behalf of the disabled, prisoners, and other groups who can’t stand up for themselves.
To Shanetta Cutlar: Congratulations on your shout-out in the Legal Times! Whistleblower Complaint Filed Against DOJ Civil Rights Division [Legal Times]
Shanetta Y. Cutlar, a high-ranking official of the U.S. Department of Justice, oversees the Special Litigation Section (SPL) of the Civil Rights Division. As chief of the SPL, Cutlar is a steward(ess) of our nation’s civil rights laws.
And, of course, Cutlar is a great diva — which is why we adore her so much.*
Those who get to see a great diva up close, or to work with one, are truly blessed. So what if divas are difficult? That’s why we call them divas.
It should come as no surprise, then, that working for Shanetta Cutlar comes with a few occupational hazards. From a former employee at SPL:
I loved my position, duties and responsibilities. Unfortunately, in time I become a victim of Shanetta’s vicious, often brutal attacks, of constant, uncontrolled rage.
I tried to tolerate and persevere. But eventually the stress began to take a physical toll on me. Down to my last few months or so with the Department, I suffered a bout of diarrhea, each and every morning, before going to work.
My nerves were wrecked. I soon realized I had to seek employment elsewhere outside of the Department.
So I left DOJ and Shanetta. Life is good again.
Color us incredulous. You sacrificed the opportunity to work under an amazing lawyer and leader because, well, you had a touch of the runs?
You need to toughen up. Your “problem” wasn’t anything that couldn’t have been solved with a family-sized bottle of Kaopectate. And a lifetime supply of Depends.
* Sorry, Shalini. We will not apologize for having a weakness for divas. We have loved divas for our entire life, ever since we popped out of one’s womb.
For those of you who care (all six of you), we defend our fixation on divas 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.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.