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: 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]
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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