Federal Judges

Alex Rich has a whole “worst job” thing going for contract attorney gigs. So far, that little contest has turned up lawyers getting paid minimum wage. That is pretty dismal.

But what about getting paid zero?

While some federal judges are making tentative steps toward ending the exploitation of regular folks at the hands of unpaid internships, others feel you shouldn’t have to pay for a cow when you can get milk from desperate cows hoping that giving away their labor might increase the dim likelihood of securing a decent wage somewhere else in the long-term for free.

If you’re looking to work for free, maybe this job listing is for you. If you just want to hate on a federal judge for taking advantage of lawyer misery for personal gain, you may want to read on as well…

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Chief Judge Alex Kozinski

Conservative and libertarian judges on the Ninth Circuit — yes, they exist — have been showing the East Coast a lot of love lately. Last month, my former boss, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, delivered the Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture at the Heritage Foundation (an excellent speech that you can watch here). Later this week, Judge O’Scannlain and one of his colleagues, Judge Carlos Bea, will make appearances at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention.

And yesterday, the ringmaster of the Ninth Circuit himself, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, delivered a talk at Yale Law School entitled “The Immigrant Experience and Judging.” He spoke to a packed house in YLS’s largest classroom.

Here are some highlights from his remarks….

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Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Debra M. Strauss, Associate Professor of Business Law at Fairfield University, offers helpful tips for landing a judicial clerkship.

You may be panicking now that that the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan appears to be in its state of demise. But this is not the first effort or the last to put some control on the timing of judicial clerkship applications! That’s why I gave the entire historical context in my book — Behind the Bench: The Guide to Judicial Clerkships — knowing that the “new” timing guidelines might not endure but would be likely to suffer the same fate as previous initiatives. To help you understand where we are now, it is important to know a bit of the background that preceded the latest Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan. In addition, here’s some valuable advice I gave students the last time there were no timing guidelines to make the best of the situation.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…

Is it acceptable to say a friendly hello to a Supreme Court justice if you see one of the nine out in public? That’s the question posed in a recent Dear Prudence column. As a federal judicial stalker an Article III groupie myself, I say yes. Because who knows? The justice might give you an autograph (and some free wine).

But some people don’t need to chase after Supreme Court justices. Some people will get to work closely with the members of the high court as law clerks, crafting the opinions that will rule us all.

Thanks to everyone who responded to our recent request for SCOTUS clerk hiring news for October Term 2014. Let’s look at the updated list of clerks hired so far….

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Judge Shira Scheindlin is no Jonathan Martin. When the Second Circuit bullied her off the stop-and-frisk case, she didn’t run crying to her parents. Instead, she’s standing up to the Second Circuit, appealing its ruling that she was improperly biased. She notes that the Second Circuit kicked her off the case sua sponte, without giving her any opportunity to defend or explain herself.

It’s funny… Scheindlin is basically arguing that she got stop-and-frisked by the appellate court. She was walking along, judging her own business, but the Second Circuit jumped to conclusions based on her appearance.

Unfortunately, in my experience, telling the people who stop-and-frisked you that they jumped to a conclusion without probable cause usually doesn’t go well…

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Let us give thanks to all the talented attorneys who leave Biglaw partnerships to serve as federal judges. First, this type of public service, often made at significant financial sacrifice, is in the legal profession’s finest traditions. Second, by throwing their hats into the federal judicial ring, these nominees let us ogle their personal finances — a subject of keen interest, and one that’s less than perfectly transparent.

Last month we used a pair of Ninth Circuit nominations to gain insight into partner pay at Munger Tolles & Olson. Today we use a D.C. district court nomination as a vehicle for looking at profits per partner at two other elite law firms, Baker Botts and Covington & Burling….

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Scalia’s buddy?

* “What about devil worshippers?” Justice Scalia may think Satan’s gotten “wilier,” but that doesn’t mean his supporters don’t deserve religious representation in their public meetings. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Speaker of the House John Boehner says that if the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passes, tons of lawsuits will be filed — except that hasn’t happened in states with similar laws. Oopsie… [Reuters]

* Judge Shira Scheindlin isn’t going to just sit there and allow herself to be kicked off the stop and frisk case. In a rare move, she asked the Second Circuit to reverse its ruling and reinstate her. Go girl! [Reuters]

* Quinn Emanuel is welcoming a frequent firm-hopper (from Sidley to Clifford Chance to Cleary Gottlieb) into its ranks in D.C. to join Weil defectors Mike Lyle and Eric Lyttle. Best of luck! [Am Law Daily]

* Gibson Dunn scooped up Scott Hammond, a longtime leader of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Query just how large the dangling carrot at the end of the firm’s stick was. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Till death or criminal charges do we part: troubled lawyer Kent Easter claims he didn’t have the backbone to stand up to his wife. He blames the entire drug-planting scandal on her. [L.A. Now / Los Angeles Times]

We’re a few weeks into the new Supreme Court Term, and it’s shaping up as a very interesting one. As veteran SCOTUS litigator Tom Goldstein said last month when he kindly joined us for one of our ATL events in D.C., even if the two prior Terms might have offered more fodder for the general public — Obamacare, same-sex marriage, affirmative action — the current one, October Term 2013, could turn out to be the biggest one for legal nerds in terms of the actual direction of the law in several areas.

Which brilliant young lawyers will get a front-row seat to the making of history? We’ve previously published the official list of OT 2013 law clerks, which we received from the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office. And now we have another gift from the PIO: the updated official list of the current crop of law clerks, which lists their law schools and prior clerkships.

Which law schools and feeder judges produced the most Supreme Court clerks for October Term 2013? And how is hiring looking for the following Term, October Term 2014?

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When people in the legal profession screw up in major ways, we are there to chronicle the action, providing entertainment and education (in terms of what not to do). For example, sometimes lawyers volunteer to enlarge the size of opposing counsel’s a-holes — and get canned. Sometimes lawyers bill for 29 hours in a day and get taken to task. Sometimes lawyers blush when they accidentally request a trial “on all the c**ts”.

These things do happen, but they’re usually one-time occurrences that would otherwise be missed by the members of the legal community, if not for our coverage here at Above the Law.

On the other side of the coin, when you screw up so many times that a federal judge feels the need to publicly excoriate you with the ultimate insult — by comparing your work to that of a pro se litigant — maybe it’s time to hang your head in shame for the rest of your days…

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Consider it official: the federal clerkship hiring season is now underway. For 2Ls, that is.

As we reported back in June, “[t]he Law Clerk Hiring Plan is pretty much dead, at least in its strictest version, and it seems like every judge is going his or her own way.” As a result, ambitious 2Ls around the country have already started applying to their favorite federal judges.

Some applicants have been emailing judges directly with materials, and others have been submitting hard-copy applications. They’ve had to do this because OSCAR, the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review, has refused to release the clerkship applications of 2Ls.

Until now. Let’s take a look at what was just posted over at the OSCAR website….

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