Elizabeth Wurtzel

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?

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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.

Wurtzel then argues….

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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.)

More discussion after the jump.

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Roman Polanski Adrien Brody.jpgWomen 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?

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wurtzel book cover.gif* 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]

wurtzel book cover.gifHere’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?

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wurtzel book cover.gifYesterday 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.

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wurtzel book cover.gifTo 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.

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Octomom.JPG* 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]

wurtzel book cover.gifGenerally, 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.

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