J. Michael Luttig

The Supreme Court’s 2008-2009 Term resulted in many notable decisions, including Ricci v. DeStafano and NAMUDNO v. Holder. It also resulted in some epic romances among the law clerks who ruled the building that year. This edition of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch features an astounding five Supreme Court clerks, all from that steamy OT ’08 class.

With five SCOTUS clerks — plus one former White House counsel — this is sure to be one prestige-drenched competition. Settle in, wedding watchers. Here are your finalists:

Jennifer Wynn and Damian Williams

Erin Delaney and Travis Lenkner

Miriam Seifter and Robert Yablon

Beth Nolan and Charles Wright

You’ll find all the details on these lawyer newlyweds, plus many more, after the jump.

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Last year, all things considered, wasn’t a bad year for Biglaw. The law firms of the Am Law 100, for example, experienced decent growth. In 2011, for the Am Law 100 as a whole, gross revenue grew by 5.3 percent, revenue per lawyer grew by 1.9 percent, and profits per partner grew by 3 percent. It was a perfectly fine year for partners.

How did their counterparts on the corporate side fare? Alas, not as well, according to Corporate Counsel’s latest compensation survey of the nation’s general counsel. Base pay for GCs in the survey declined by 1.8 percent, to an average of $611,411. Bonuses and nonequity incentive pay slid by an even larger number, 7.7 percent, to an average of $1,125,458. Meanwhile, in terms of non-cash compensation, the average stock award fell by 10.8 percent, to $1,426,325, and the average stock option award dropped by a whopping 18.7 percent, to $732,453.

These are just the top-line figures — which, of course, conceal a lot of individual variability. Let’s take a look at some specific names and numbers, as well as the top ten highest-paid general counsel….

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Which GC took home the most cash in 2010? For the first time, the winner was a woman.

Corporate Counsel just released its annual list of the highest-paid general counsel in the land. On the whole, the news is good: “If last year’s GC Compensation Survey showed the aftereffects… of the deepest trough of the recession, this year’s results show that chief legal officers made steady gains and recovered some momentum.”

This year there was at least one surprise: a winning woman. For the first time since the inception of the survey in 1994, the highest-paid general counsel on the list was a female attorney.

Who topped the list, and how much did she make? Let’s take a look….

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J. Michael ("Mike") LuttigIn May 2006, then-Judge J. Michael Luttig made major news in the legal world by resigning from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to become senior vice president and general counsel of aerospace giant Boeing. Luttig served as a Fourth Circuit judge for almost 15 years, during which time he reigned as the #1 feeder judge, sending almost all of his clerks into Supreme Court clerkships, and came extremely close to becoming a justice himself.

Luttig’s resignation from his life-tenured Fourth Circuit judgeship came as a shock to many (and was viewed by some as “taking his toys and going home,” after he got passed over for the SCOTUS seats that ultimately went to John Roberts and Samuel Alito). But Luttig, who’s only 56 — he was appointed to the Fourth Circuit at the tender age of 37 — seems to be enjoying the new challenges of serving as GC of a large public company.

During his four years at Boeing, Luttig has given its in-house ranks a major makeover. He has brought in some top talent, including at least four Supreme Court clerks: John Demers (OT 2005/Scalia), Grant Dixton (OT 2000/Kennedy), Brett Gerry (OT 2000/Kennedy), and Jake Phillips (OT 2004/Scalia). Is there any in-house legal department with more former Supreme Court clerks than Boeing? Don’t forget to count Luttig himself, who clerked for Chief Justice Burger (OT 1983), after clerking for then-Judge Scalia on the D.C. Circuit.

UPDATE: Boeing boasts at least eight (8) SCOTUS clerks. Here are three who were inadvertently omitted from the original version of this post: Bertrand-Marc Allen (OT 2003/Kennedy), Lynda Guild Simpson (OT 1984/Powell), and Eric Wolff (OT 2000/Scalia).

And Luttig has given his net worth a makeover, too. At the time of his May 2006 resignation, federal circuit judges earned $175,100 a year. As executive vice president and general counsel of Boeing — the country’s largest aerospace and defense company, #28 on the Fortune 500 — he makes millions.

Luttig no longer has to worry about covering college expenses for his two kids (which he cited in his resignation letter as a reason for leaving the bench). And this past May, he and his wife, Elizabeth Luttig, bought a fabulous second home in beautiful Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

How much did Mike Luttig pay for his new place? And how does the price tag compare to his in-house compensation at Boeing?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Luttig in Lap of Luxury (Plus info about his current compensation.)”

dahlia lithwick headshot.jpgWe’re loving this little dustup over our item about Nina Totenberg getting territorial over seating in the Supreme Court press gallery. It got us a shout-out in the Washington Post. And it’s generating celebrity correspondence for us, too.
Over the weekend, we heard from SCOTUS bar superstar Tom Goldstein. And then, this morning, we received this email, from one of our favorite commentators on legal affairs:

From: Dahlia Lithwick
Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 10:35 AM
To: David Lat
Subject: one bigger question raised in Divagate

The Wa Po article about Nina said she was “dean” of the Supreme Court press corps.

I have also heard that title applied to both Linda [Greenhouse] and Lyle [Denniston] at various times.

What the heck is that about?

Is it a real position? Is it tenured?

Good questions. It reminds us of “The Tenth Justice,” a title that has been bestowed on everyone from the Solicitor General to ex-judge J. Michael Luttig to Howard Bashman (by Howard Bashman).
Also, can you run for this post of “dean”? If the SCOTUS press corps is like high school, is this like being class president? Or prom queen?
If so, we nominate Dahlia Lithwick. She’s fabulous! How many Supreme Court correspondents have Facebook fan clubs?
(Linda Greenhouse, eat your (bleeding) heart out….)
Names & Faces: Totenberg’s Courtside Seat [Washington Post]
A3G to President Bush: Pick Alito, Not Luttig [Underneath Their Robes]
Earlier: Why Is Nina Totenberg Like Judy Miller?

Supreme Court hallway Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law.JPGA few more updates from tipsters:
Edward C. Dawson, who clerked for Kennedy in OT 2003, is with Yetter & Warden, and according to our tipster is in the new Austin office.
Marc Allen, also a former Kennedy clerk, has reportedly gone in-house with Boeing, working for his old boss, Judge J. Michael Luttig.
Leondra Kruger, who clerked for Stevens in OT 2003, is a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School.
The pattern of about half in private practice appears to be holding.

R Ted Cruz Above the Law.jpgIn our detailed review of possible nominees for the two open Fifth Circuit seats in Texas, we mentioned Texas’s Solicitor General, R. Ted Cruz, as a possible nominee.
After we dropped his name, a number of you wrote in to share your thoughts about him (as frequently happens after we mention someone in these pages). Here are some of your comments:

“Ted Cruz is brilliant — and he knows it. In this respect, he’s like his former boss, ex-Fourth Circuit Judge J. Michael Luttig. And in both cases, the arrogance is actually warranted.”

“Ted Cruz is a smartest of all the people whose names you floated (probably even including Greg Coleman, but that’s a close call). Cruz is a former Luttig and Rehnquist clerk, and not surprisingly, he’s very well-connected politically. Prior to taking the Texas SG job, he served in the Bush Administration. If nominated, he could face some opposition. He’s very conservative — but when it counts, it’s mostly in a cute libertarian/old Federalist Society sort of way. And he’s very, very political — he may not be an easy sell in a 52-48 51-49 Senate itching to do some damage.”

“Before Ted Cruz was one of America’s top young conservative lawyers, he was a force to be reckoned with on the college parliamentary debate circuit. Debaters would pratically pee in their pants upon learning they’d be going up against him!”

In sum, Ted Cruz is a brilliant, conservative, high-powered Latino lawyer. So why did we call him only an outside possibility for the 5th Circuit?
Is it because he might engender Democratic opposition? Actually, no. Considering that President Bush just resubmitted four controversial circuit court nominees, it’s clear he’s still ready to rumble with the Dems. The White House would probably be fine with nominating Cruz if he wanted a Fifth Circuit seat.
And therein lies the rub. These days we’re hearing that Cruz actually does NOT want to get appointed to that court. At an earlier point in his legal career, a Fifth Circuit seat might have been his dream job (en route to a seat on the Supreme Court). But the latest rumor is that Ted Cruz has grown more interested in elective office lately.
So expect him to run for some prominent elected position in the not-too-distant future. Texas Attorney General? Governor of the Lone Star State? A position representing Texas in the U.S. House or Senate? The sky is the limit for someone as talented as Ted Cruz.
R. Ted Cruz bio [Trolp.org]
Ted Cruz [Wikipedia]
Earlier: Some Fifth Circuit Scuttlebutt

john bash.jpegIf you have dreams of clerking for Justice Antonin Scalia next year (October Term 2007), and your name doesn’t appear below, sorry — your dreams are fading fast.
Here are the OT 2007 hires of Justice Scalia (thus far):
1. Aditya Bamzai (University of Chicago/Sutton/OLC).
Here’s an equation that’s as reliable as E=mc2:
Clerkship with judicial superhottie Jeffrey S. Sutton (6th Cir.) + Stint at DOJ’s prestigious Office of Legal Counsel = Clerkship with Justice Scalia
It worked for current Scalia clerk Louis Chaiten, and it worked for Mr. Bamzai. It could work for you too!
They don’t call the OLC the “Finishing School for the Elect” for nothing…
2. John Bash (at right; he’s quite handsome, and the woman he’s with is simply stunning).
Bash, you may recall, was supposed to be a Luttigator — until Judge J. Michael Luttig flew the judicial coop and winged it over to Boeing.
But Bash’s story has a happy ending. He landed a clerkship with Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the latest addition to the star-studded D.C. Circuit bench. After his stint with Judge Kavanaugh, he’ll be Bashing down the bronze doors at One First Street.
3. Rachel Kovner (Stanford 2006/Wilkinson). This empress of Stanford Law is rumored to have earned the highest grades in Stanford Law School history — higher even than OT 2006 clerks David Cooper (Stanford 2004/Garland/Kennedy) and Kathryn Judge (Stanford 2004/Posner/Breyer).
Rachel’s law school transcript is so delicious, the Stanford registrar’s office is printing out thousands of copies and airlifting them to Mauritania.
Anyone have the 411 about the fourth Scalia clerk for OT 2007? Or some juicy tidbits about Supreme Court clerk hiring by another justice? Please send it our way, by email (subject line: “SCOTUS Clerk”). Gracias!

It used to be exceedingly rare for a federal judge to leave the bench for private practice. But times are changing.
Earlier this summer, Fourth Circuit Judge J. Michael Luttig — frequently mentioned as a possible Supreme Court candidate, and the nation’s top judge when it comes to feeding his clerks into prestigious Supreme Court clerkships — surprised the legal world by flying the Article III coop. He headed off to Boeing, to assume the position of general counsel at the aerospace giant.
And now the acclaimed Southern District of New York, generally regarded as the nation’s most prestigious federal trial court, is losing its chief judge. Chief Judge Michael Mukasey is returning to the partnership of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, where he practiced before President Reagan appointed him to the bench. In addition to his partnership draw at Patterson, where profits-per-partner are in the seven figures, he’ll receive his annual judicial pension of $165,000. KA-CHING!
Mukasey will be replaced as chief judge by the luscious Kimba Wood. Judge Wood, of course, is the ex-Playboy bunny who reigns as the #1 Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary.
Judge Mukasey is known as an efficient, hardworking, and occasionally cantankerous judge. One lawyer who appeared before him describes him as someone “who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.”
Sounds like the transition to Biglaw partner will be pretty easy for Mukasey.
As Judge Leaves for Law Firm, His Legacy Is Remembered [New York Sun]