Federal Government

* How lucky for us that the Senate decided to avoid a government shutdown, but the third time is not the charm when it comes to the taxpayers’ money. [New York Times]

* Did DSK get a blowie in his official capacity as Managing Director of the IMF? That might be what he has to say if he wants diplomatic immunity. [Washington Post]

* Law school applications are down 9.9 percent. It’s too bad that even a nosedive like that isn’t stopping law schools from increasing incoming class sizes. [StarTribune]

* Charlie Sheen settled his lawsuit against Warner Bros. Screw Two and a Half Men; we all know he’d rather have two and a half grams. [Bloomberg]

* Women in Saudi Arabia now have the right to vote, but they’ll have to walk to the polls. They’ll remain backseat drivers until further notice, just like in America. [WSJ Law Blog]

Law clerks aren't jumping for joy these days, especially when it comes to pay.

I spent last weekend in Portland, Oregon, where I attended the 25th judicial anniversary celebration and law clerk reunion of my former boss, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the Ninth Circuit. It was a warm and wonderful occasion, a chance to reconnect with old friends and to catch up with the O’Scannlains (Judge and Mrs. O’Scannlain were joined by all eight of their children for the festivities). Former clerks shared happy memories from their time in PDX clerking for DFO.

Most former law clerks I meet — mainly law clerks to federal judges, whether Article III or magistrate or bankruptcy — recall their clerkships fondly. They praise the excellent experience, the clerkly camaraderie, and the training and mentoring they received from their judges (for the most part; a few describe judicial clerkships from hell).

It struck me as strange, then, that “law clerk” recently came in at #7 on CNBC’s list of 10 Most Hated Jobs. I can’t help wondering whether courthouse administrative personnel with the title of “clerk” were somehow mixed in with federal judicial law clerks. The median salary of $39,780 a year suggests that this might be the case, since federal law clerks (and many state law clerks) make more than $40K these days.

Then again, people don’t clerk for the money. Sure, clerkship bonuses, especially Supreme Court clerkship bonuses, can be considerable — but in most cases, a graduate who goes straight into a law firm will do better financially than her classmate who clerks after graduation.

If you’re planning to clerk or interested in clerking for a federal judge, you should be aware of the latest news about law clerk compensation….

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Two petitions of possible interest showed up in our inbox today:

1. In favor of student loan forgiveness: This petition, reminiscent of Elie Mystal’s call for a student loan bailout, “strongly encourage[s] Congress and the President to support H. Res. 365, introduced by Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI), seeking student loan forgiveness as a means of economic stimulus.” (We mentioned H.R. 365 in Morning Docket.)

2. In favor of law school transparency: This petition, posted by Professor Paul Campos over at his formerly anonymous blog, calls for “the American Bar Association to require all schools it has accredited to release clear, accurate, and reasonably comprehensive information regarding graduate employment, by for example implementing the proposals outlined in Part III of the Law School Transparency Project’s white paper, A Way Forward: Transparency at U.S. Law Schools.”

We might have more to say about these petitions later. For now, we’ll just pass along the links (and you can argue the merits of these petitions in the comments).

Want a Real Economic Stimulus and Jobs Plan? Forgive Student Loan Debt! [SignOn.org]
Law School Petition [Inside the Law School Scam]

Earlier: Student Loan Bailout. Just Do It.
The Tenured Law Prof Turned ‘Scamblogger’ Reveals Himself


It’s hard out there for a 3L. That’s essentially the finding of our reader poll from a few weeks ago. Not many employers are interviewing third-year law students this fall.

But there are employment opportunities out there for enterprising third-year law students. We’ve recently mentioned judicial clerkships, the Justice Department Honors Program, and the Presidential Management Fellows Program.

Today we bring you information about another program that’s hiring graduating law students. The good news: the work/life balance is good, as are the benefits and the pay (six figures). The bad news: these positions aren’t easy to land.

So, what program are we talking about?

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The job market remains challenging for graduating law students. Here at Above the Law, we try to do what we can to bring opportunities to the attention of 3Ls. In recent weeks, we’ve discussed judicial clerkships and the DOJ Honors Program.

Granted, clerkships and the Honors Program are opportunities that are (1) fairly obvious and (2) extremely competitive. Some of you might be asking: Have any other bright ideas, Team ATL?

As a matter of fact, we do….

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Judge Peggy Ableman

Ed. note: Due to the Labor Day holiday, we’ll be on a reduced publication schedule today. We’ll be back to normal tomorrow. A restful and happy Labor Day to all!

* More about the Delaware benchslap that we covered last week (including the news that Judge Peggy Ableman’s pajama party did not go forward as proposed). [Delaware News-Journal]

* The federal government is suing 17 banks for almost $200 billion, blaming the banks for mortgage-backed securities that went bad. [Bloomberg]

* An interesting dissection of the legal fees that Dewey & LeBoeuf is running up as counsel on the Los Angeles Dodgers bankruptcy. [New York Times]

Roger Clemens

* Roger Clemens will face a second trial next year. Lester Munson, the esteemed legal analyst, explains why. [ESPN]

* “From One Bankrupt Firm to Another: Brobeck Asks Heller For $471,000.” [Am Law Daily]

* AT&T faces a tricky balancing act in dealing with the Justice Department’s challenge of the T-Mobile deal. [New York Times]

* If you’re confused about the current role of lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Michael Arrington over at AOL, in the wake of AOL’s acquiring his TechCrunch site, you’re not alone. [Digits / Wall Street Journal]

Just a friendly reminder to our 3L and law clerk readers: if you’re interested in the Honors Program of the U.S. Department of Justice, you need to submit your application materials very soon — about a week from now. (And note that the Labor Day holiday falls during this period, which could affect your ability to obtain transcripts or contact references.)

As we previously mentioned, the Honors Program application deadline is SEPTEMBER 6, 2011. For complete application information and the full hiring timeline, see the DOJ website.

We wish you good luck — because you’ll definitely need it….

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We all know Michele Bachmann as the Tea Party darling running for the Republican presidential nomination. Before that, Bachmann the Congresswoman became famous for making some of the most truly ignorant statements in modern American politics.

But few people know that before Bachmann became a crazy-eyed, anti-tax standard bearer, Bachmann was a lawyer. A tax lawyer. Working for the IRS. That’s right, as a lawyer Bachmann helped the government collect taxes.

But I wouldn’t call her a hypocrite. It seems she wasn’t all that good at collecting taxes….

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As far as we know, the hiring freeze at the U.S. Department of Justice is still on. This shouldn’t come as a shock, given all the recent political logjam concerning the debt ceiling and the federal budget.

When it comes to job opportunities at the Justice Department, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the DOJ Honors Program is still hiring — and is now accepting applications.

So consider this your friendly reminder from Above the Law, like the ones we’ve done in years past: if you want to apply to the Honors Program, accurately described as “the largest and most prestigious federal entry-level attorney hiring program of its kind,” then you need to get your materials in by SEPTEMBER 6, 2011. For complete application information and the full hiring timeline, see the DOJ website.

Now, the bad news (because there’s always bad news). It seems that the Honors Program might be extra-small this time around….

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Jeh Johnson

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fate of Guantanamo Bay. The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The rise of WikiLeaks. The raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound. The conflict in Libya.

On these and many other critical national security legal issues, one of the most important advisers to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama’s White House has been Jeh C. Johnson, General Counsel of the Department of Defense. In light of his role as senior legal adviser to the largest government agency in the world, responsible for the work of over 10,000 lawyers, it is no understatement to describe Johnson as one of the powerful and influential lawyers in the entire federal government.

I recently went down to Washington to interview Johnson in his office at the Pentagon. If you think security at your law firm is tight, visit the Pentagon. I had to pass through a metal detector and multiple security checkpoints before arriving at Johnson’s office, located on the E Ring within the mammoth structure — the world’s largest office building by floor area, with over 6.5 million square feet housing over 25,000 employees. (I was accompanied at all times by a member of Johnson’s staff, which prevented me from getting lost inside the maze-like complex.)

Before entering Johnson’s private office, I had to surrender my Blackberry – the office is a SCIF (pronounced “skiff”), or “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.” This means that it is specially designed to prevent eavesdropping, thanks to walls and doors of specified thickness and the use of jamming technologies. The windows of Johnson’s office, tinted a yellowish green, are blast-resistant and designed to preclude visual surveillance.

Once I made it to the inner sanctum, I was in for a treat. My wide-ranging discussion with Jeh Johnson covered his remarkable career path, which has included service as a federal prosecutor, partnership at a top law firm (Paul Weiss), and his current post as GC of the Defense Department; the virtues of public service, as well as the growing challenges for lawyers interested in it; and Johnson’s advice for law students and lawyers who aspire to careers in government (hint: keep your nanny on the books)….

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