A tale of three Yalies: Elizabeth Wurtzel, Richard Epstein, and John Yoo.
… or talk about the bar. Welcome to one of those “only on the internet” moments, a spirited debate between three people I adore: Elizabeth Wurtzel, Richard Epstein, and John Yoo. The subject: the bar exam (but also law schools and the legal profession more generally).
Here’s one thing the three share in common: they’re all graduates of Yale Law School. The similarities pretty much end there. Elizabeth Wurtzel is a litigatrix at the high-powered Boies Schiller firm, but her real claim to fame is her work as a bestselling and critically acclaimed writer. Richard Epstein is one of the nation’s leading law professors — U. Chicago and NYU folks, you can argue over which school he belongs to — and an outspoken libertarian. John Yoo, a prominent (and conservative) law professor at UC Berkeley, is most well-known for his work in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, where he authored the so-called “torture memos.”
Wurtzel is super-liberal — her reaction to 9/11 was controversial, to say the least — while Professors Epstein and Yoo both hail from the right side of the aisle (to put it mildly). Back in May, I identified both Epstein and Yoo as possible nominees for the conservative wing of an “unconfirmable” Supreme Court.
So how would you react to learning of a three-way debate between Wurtzel, Epstein, and Yoo — in which the dynamic is not La Wurtzel v. Epstein & Yoo?
The fabulous Elizabeth Wurtzel — the bestselling and critically acclaimed writer, who graduated from Yale Law School and is now a litigatrix at the powerhouse known as Boies Schiller — has a bone to pick with the bar exam. In a recent post on the blog of the Brennan Center — an organization that we won’t try to describe, since some of you objected vigorously to our last attempt — Wurtzel questions the value of the bar exam as a gatekeeping mechanism for lawyers. (Those of you frantically cramming for the test right now might agree with her.)
Wurtzel begins by noting how Kathleen Sullivan — the noted constitutional law scholar, former dean of Stanford Law School, and current name partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan — didn’t pass the California bar.
Congratulations to Elizabeth Wurtzel! The celebrated writer, who now works at Boies Schiller, just passed the New York bar exam. (As we noted earlier, February bar exam results for New York were released today.)
Women of Switzerland, lock up your daughters. Roman Polanski has been granted bail, after a court approved his bail offer of $4.5 million. (For now, he’s still in jail; his release date has not been set.)
Once released, Polanski will be under house arrest. So, good parents of Switzerland, maybe there’s no need to lock up your daughters. Just don’t let them anywhere near Polanski’s ski chalet in Gstaad.
Getting released on bail is a nice result for Polanski, since it was widely expected that he’d remain stuck in the pokey. Perhaps he was represented by the Zurich office of Lindeman, Alvarado, & Frye? (Gavel bang: commenter #16.)
We suspect that ATL readers are displeased by this development. In a reader poll from September, almost three quarters of you expressed support for continuing to pursue and prosecute Polanski.
How does writer-turned-kinda-lawyer Elizabeth Wurtzel feel about all of this?
* Here’s all you need to know about this link: Elizabeth Wurtzel, curtains, no rug, “vaginal hegemony.” [Jezebel]
* Never take sex photos you don’t want everybody to see after you break up with the guy. [True/Slant]
* On-campus interviewers are very interested in your answers to “behavioral questions.” I guess they are trying to figure out if you are a drone or a droid. [Young Lawyers Blog]
* Can law firms use the grapevine to their advantage? [Law and More]
* It appears that Jobless Lawyer (we linked there yesterday) is a former associate at Latham & Watkins. Maybe he’ll be an inspiration to all of the former Latham associates? [Legal Blog Watch]
* Alfred Nobel’s grudge against lawyers. [Legally Drawn]
* Lat is doing a call-in program tomorrow at 2 p.m., moderated by Edward Adams of the ABA Journal, entitled “Why Openness & Transparency at Law Firms Matters.” [Legal Rebels / ABA Journal]
Here’s a quick afterword on the story of Elizabeth Wurtzel, the critically acclaimed, bestselling author who — for rather mysterious reasons (9/11 was somehow involved) — traded in a life of six-figure book advances, glamorous parties, and relationships with other celebrity writers… for a law degree.
In a prior post, we wondered whether Wurtzel, who has not yet passed the bar, can refer to herself as a “lawyer” (as she has done publicly on various occasions, most recently in an interview with Bitter Lawyer). In a comment to Gawker, Wurtzel advanced the theory that she can refer to herself as a “lawyer,” even if not an “attorney,” because “if you graduate from law school/receive a JD, you are a lawyer; if you are licensed, you are an attorney.”
For those of you who just took the bar, and who will receive your law licenses in a few months, this is a pertinent inquiry. Does the lawyer vs. attorney distinction hold water?
Yesterday we heard from legal ethics experts about whether Elizabeth Wurtzel’s referring to herself as a “lawyer,” despite not having passed the bar yet, could get her in trouble. The two we consulted, Professors Steven Lubet and Stephen Gillers, did not see it as a big deal.
There’s an interesting follow-up over at Gawker, which obtained the following comment from La Wurtzel herself:
This is my understanding: if you graduate from law school/receive a JD, you are a lawyer; if you are licensed, you are an attorney. That’s what I’ve always been told.
Not too many nice things to say about the Bar Exam. Every year, some very gifted people fail it (Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Sullivan of Stanford Law School)–and every year, a lot of real idiots pass it. Hard to know what to make of that
Regarding Wurtzel’s understanding of the difference between the terms “lawyer” and “attorney,” other folks have been told that too. See the comments to this post from last year on the subject.
But there is disagreement. Read more, and take a READER POLL, after the jump.
To those of you getting ready to take the bar exam this week, here’s some reassurance for you: even if you fail, life goes on. Consider this list of famous failures, people who didn’t pass the bar exam but went on to tremendous success anyway.
And here’s another boldface name who failed the bar: Elizabeth Wurtzel, the bestselling and critically acclaimed author, who graduated from Yale Law School last year and sat for the New York bar in July 2008 (and maybe in February 2009 too). In an interview with the New York Observer, Wurtzel shrugged off her bar failure.
In a more recent interview with Bitter Lawyer, Wurtzel once again breezed past that fact. From Gawker:
Wurtzel granted an interview recently to Bitter Lawyer, talking about how much she loves the law and how awesome it is being a lawyer and working at David Boies’s law firm. Except she’s not a lawyer! At least not in New York, where it seems to be unlawful to claim to be a lawyer if you haven’t passed the bar exam. Which she hasn’t.
In the Gawker post, John Cook parses Wurtzel’s Bitter Lawyer interview against the backdrop of New York rules and statutes regulating the legal profession. Cook suggests that Wurtzel describing herself as a lawyer violates New York Judiciary Law § 478, “Practicing or appearing as attorney-at-law without being admitted and registered.”
We forwarded the Gawker link to a pair of legal ethics experts, Professor Steven Lubet of Northwestern and Professor Stephen Gillers of NYU, and asked them to assess the situation.
Read what they had to say, after the jump.
* I didn’t know how much I hated Celebrity Lawyers until I read this post. But now I see that there is yet another force in the universe that needs to be destroyed. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* Maine is the latest state to adopt fairness when it comes to gays and lesbians. [CNN]
* Next time you want to make an inconsiderate joke about Kash, remember she’s a professional cyber-stalker. [True/Slant]
* Just to be clear, we don’t even know if Elizabeth Wurtzel took the February bar exam. But we do know that she didn’t pass it, again. [NY BOLE]
* At least “Nails” could catch a ball in left field (I’m looking at you Daniel Murphy). [ESPN]
* Maybe Obama could be President, and on the Court, and Commissioner of Baseball, and the CEO of GM (wait, he already is), and the titular head of the Grand Ole Opry. Then, and only then, will we be able to truly get the change we’ve been promised. [Litination]
Generally, it is not cool to make fun of people who don’t pass the New York Bar Exam.
However, Elizabeth Wurtzel puts us in a difficult position. A) She’s a public figure, B) She really doesn’t seem to care. When the New York Observer approached her with the news that Gawker alerted the world that she failed the bar, Wurtzel responded:
“Wow, really? I had no idea. I didn’t even see that. That’s interesting,” Ms. Wurtzel said of the report, with an awkward half-smile.
Well, what was she supposed to say?
I’m so ashamed and embarrassed, and Gawker has compounded my misery. I wish I could cry but I have no more tears left. I wish the public would just leave me alone so I can hang myself in the privacy of my own bathroom.
Why give the haters any opening? Going quietly into the night is a fine option.
So, why isn’t ATL just leaving her alone? 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: email@example.com.
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.