1. Until her controversial ouster, Carol Lam (far right) was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California (San Diego).
2. Until she was tempted away from government service by a $1.5 million offer from Gibson Dunn, Debra Wong Yang (near right) was the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California (Los Angeles).
3. As far as we know, Eumi Choi continues to serve as First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).
Coincidence? We have to ask:
What is up with Asian-American women and leadership positions in California U.S. Attorney offices?
Their presence in these posts would seem like a great leap forward for diversity — but it’s causing problems. Just ask poor Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Here’s what Senator Schumer wrote in a recent letter to President Bush:
In an email to the White House, [former Alberto Gonzales aide Kyle] Sampson refers to a “problem” with Carol Lam.
What was this “problem” and was Lam’s firing motivated by her investigation into former Congressmen Randy Cunningham and Representative Jerry Lewis?…
Mr. Sampson’s email was sent the same day [May 11, 2006] that the Los Angeles Times had broken the news that Ms. Lam’s investigation of former Congressman Randy Cunningham (R-CA) had expanded to include Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA).
One of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys was Kevin Ryan, of the Northern District of California (San Francisco). As noted by the Legal Pad, his firing appears to be one of the less high-profile or controversial ones.
But it’s important to us, since it raises a question about our favorite federal prosecutor:
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE FABULOUS EUMI CHOI?
Eumi Choi served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney under Kevin Ryan. As noted here, a previous paean to her, Choi is “a tough, smart, no-nonsense prosecutrix.”
We’re not the only ones wondering about Choi’s fate. Again, from the Legal Pad:
What’s the deal with Eumi Choi, the No. 2 to ousted U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan?
We’re hearing that the first assistant U.S. attorney has been sent down to be a line prosecutor. Not surprising, given that a new U.S. attorney such as recently appointed interim Scott Schools usually shakes up the top, especially in an office where prosecutors have frequently complained about management.
But Choi didn’t have much to say today when asked whether her job description had changed. She said she’d talk with office spokesman Luke Macaulay about getting us an answer.
We have been beggingyou for dirty laundry to air about the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco (Northern District of California). From what we hear, the high-profile office is in a state of turmoil. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Eumi Choi has been trying to quell a line-assistant rebellion that has been described as “the best-coordinated insurgency outside of Iraq.”
We don’t care whether you’re part of the pro-Eumi Choi or anti-Eumi Choi faction. We’re not taking sides here. We just want the inside scoop on the internal warfare, plotting and backstabbing going on over there right now. It’s for entertainment purposes only (because few things are more entertaining than workplace drama).
Thus far, you’ve been holding out on us. That’s okay; we have other sources. Like judges’ chambers:
I worked for a judge in the Northern District of California, where [U.S. Attorney] Kevin Ryan’s main office is. Although I haven’t had any personal contact with the USA [himself], I remember the AUSAs and their law externs who would appear before my judge were particularly unruly, talkative and disrespectful in the court.
A number of times, my judge would be trying to talk in court over the hum of their own personal discussions. When it got out of hand, he would stop, glare at them over his glasses, and it would be about a minute before they realized that the judge wanted them to shut up.
Other times, the judge would have to say, “Counsel!” Then the oblivious AUSAs would look up like contrite 5th graders. They also argued a lot amongst themselves in the hallways and, indeed, acted very much like children.
Here’s our recap of the past week in ATL, completely free of Biglaw or bonus news (which will be summarized in a separate “Week in Review” post).
The theme for this week’s news: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
* Hardworking lawyers are still unhappy with their sex lives.
* Celebrities still get in legal trouble (and so do state court judges).
* Borat-related lawsuits still keep getting filed.
* The Duke lacrosse team rape case is still FUBAR.
* Law school libraries are still foul-smelling at the height of final exams.
* Pro se litigants are STILL AWESOME.
* Senator Orrin Hatch is still on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
* Justice Breyer is still concerned about sectarian violence in the 17th century.
* Eumi Choi is still our idol.
* Working for the government still offers many young lawyers more interesting work, and greater responsibility, than Biglaw life (but without a five-figure bonus).
* Also, public interest work still attracts some of the most promising law school graduates.
Have a good weekend, everyone!
We enjoy reading your comments. Well, some of them. See, e.g., here, here, and here.
But some we find rather mystifying. Like this comment on How Yummy Is Eumi?, our profile of high-powered federal prosecutor Eumi Choi, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).
Commenter “Barbara” wrote:
This post, like the SF Weekly article it references, was planted by a group of disgruntled (and racist) former and current AUSAs who constitute the best-coordinated insurgency outside of Iraq. They are a group of uppity Caucasians hell-bent on controlling the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They hate Eumi because she is Asian — and ergo, is not one of them.
Note how this posting focuses on Eumi’s race. Many of the insurgents’ private talk about Eumi is also borderline racist — e.g., referring her as “Dragon Lady.” Interestingly, these insurgent AUSAs who now whine about having to “follow directions” were themselves the most autocratic dictators around during the Shapiro/Mueller administration, when THEY were in power.
Even more interesting is how very little anyone discusses the impoverished morals of the insurgent AUSAs. Four of them had affairs with other AUSAs while married to other people. One of the harshest critics of Eumi and Kevin Ryan left his pregnant wife for another AUSA. Everyone is so fascinated by the fact of a powerful Asian female being under attack that nobody — least of all the legal press, which is incapable of anything other than acting as a mouthpiece for the disgruntled — has paid any heed to the fact that the Caucasian stonethrowers are themselves living in brittle glass houses.
We don’t understand this commenter’s ire towards our post. We praised Eumi Choi as a “tough, smart, no-nonsense” prosecutor, as well as a “strong Asian woman.” We also described her as “fabulous” and “yummy.” What part of that was unclear?
(Also, for the record, we’re Asian ourselves — and were raised by a mom who’s a lot like Eumi Choi. So we obviously have no problems with powerful Asian females or Asian lawyers in positions of power.)
Despite our issues with this comment, we did enjoy the dirt it dished out — especially the allegations of extramarital affairs galore. The U.S.A.O. for the N.D. Cal. sounds as incestuous, fractious, and trashily dysfunctional as “Melrose Place.”
If you have more juicy gossip about the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco — concerning Eumi Choi, her adversaries, or the battles going on between them — please do share with us.
(Hint to people who want to buy us a Christmas gift: the first season of “Melrose Place” is now out on DVD.) Earlier: How Yummy Is Eumi?
This post is even more random than usual. But it’s Friday, and Mother Nature is going bonkers — a major snowstorm in the Midwest, an epic typhoon in the Philippines — so indulge us.
Some time ago, we characterized the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of California (San Francisco) as “well-regarded.” But then John of The Legal Reader helpfully informed us that the office has slipped in recent years. He brought to our attention this fascinating feature, describing problems that have plagued the office under United States Attorney Kevin Ryan.
So we read the article, which was most enlightening. And after reading it, we were left with one conclusion:
EUMI CHOI IS FABULOUS.
Who is Eumi Choi? She’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District, the right-hand woman of U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan. But it seems that, despite her nominal status as Ryan’s second-in-command, Choi is actually running the show, cracking the whip over the assistant U.S. attorneys while Ryan hides out in his office.
If someone were to make a movie about the N.D. Cal. office, Eumi Choi would be the “scene stealing” character. The role of Eumi would turn into a surprise star vehicle for Lucy Liu, en route to an improbable Oscar nomination.
We explain why Eumi is so yummy, after the jump.
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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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