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: Happy Columbus Day. And to the Canadians, happy Thanksgiving. Our publisher Breaking Media has encouraged us to embrace the holiday spirit on this second Monday of October, so we will not be publishing today. We'll see you tomorrow.]
* “Experts call 5 ongoing probes of federal jurists unprecedented.” [Houston Chronicle]
When we previously wrote about author-turned-lawyer Elizabeth Wurtzel, whom we honored as a Summer Associate of the Day, you had some strong reactions. Now Ms. Wurtzel, a Yale Law School student who summered at WilmerHale, is in the news once again. We expect no shortage of reader opinions.
Wurtzel is the subject of a generally flattering profile in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. It’s quite interesting; read it in full here. This struck us as the money quote (quite literally):
Although Ms. Wurtzel received a $500,000 advance for her second book, “Bitch” (and half of that for “More, Now, Again”), she took out loans to pay for her education. Yale’s law school tuition this year is $43,750.
“I’m badly in debt,” she said. “It’s got to be in the six figures.” Ms. Wurtzel has until Nov. 15 to take up WilmerHale’s job offer. She also has an essay collection in the works but no publisher yet.
We realize cocaine is expensive, but we still don’t understand how authors can blow (haha) through six-figure advances so quickly. What next? Will Jessica Cutler, who recently declared bankruptcy, matriculate at Harvard Law School?
Discussion resumes after the jump.
We reiterate last year’s request for funny or interesting stories about summer associates. We’ll use them for our new feature, Summer Associate of the Day. Like ATL’s Lawyer of the Day and Judge of the Day columns — which may be somewhat misnamed, since they don’t appear daily, but whatever — we’re most interested in people making damn fools of themselves.
For today’s Summer Associate of the Day, though, we’re going for “notable” rather than “embarrassing.” From a source:
Judging from your recent post on Shane Chase, it appears you may have a soft spot for interesting or controversial summer hires.
How’s this? The New York office of WilmerHale has hired Elizabeth Wurtzel as a summer associate. You may remember her as the controversial author of Prozac Nation and Bitch, as well as a former music critic/wild card for The New Yorker and New York Magazine. She’s also a looker — see here. She’s at Yale, almost 40 now, and still looks as good.
Who knows, maybe she’ll use Wilmer for fodder for another article/book!
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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 six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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