Jonathan Cohn

Rachel Brand Rachel L Brand Above the Law blog.jpgOkay, working at the U.S. Department of Justice may not be a party these days. But the recently announced, imminent departure of Assistant Attorney General Rachel L. Brand — her last day at the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy is July 9 — had nothing to do with recent controversies (contrary to some insinuations).
As tout le monde in D.C. legal circles knows, the fabulous Brand — known to some as the Prom Queen — was planning to step down for some time. The reason? She and her husband, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Cohn, are expecting a baby boy next month.
The lede of this Reuters report, while technically accurate, is therefore misleading. Thankfully, the Washington Post was more accurate:

[T]he Justice Department announced that Rachel Brand, assistant attorney general for legal policy, is resigning….

Justice officials said she plans to leave July 9 and stay at home with her first child, due this summer.

Brand, who worked on the renewal of the USA Patriot Act last year and the confirmation of two Supreme Court justices in 2005, is not known to have played a direct role in the U.S. attorneys’ removal.

“[N]ot known to have played a direct role” — maybe because she didn’t? If she had, rest assured that Chuck & Friends would have invited her over to Capitol Hill for a televised chat.

[D]epartment officials have said that Gonzales’s former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, asked her whether she might want to replace a Michigan prosecutor who was forced out. Though interested at first, Brand did not apply for the job.

Yes, Brand shrewdly did not throw her hat into that ring. As we previously noted:

In declining to be considered, Rachel Brand showed the excellent judgment that has taken her so far, so fast. Had Rachel Brand replaced Margaret Chiara, she would have been the victim of a mainstream media pile-on. The New York Times editorial board would have derided her as a Bush Administration political hack with no prosecutorial experience (albeit a hack with impeccable academic credentials, including Harvard Law School and a Supreme Court clerkship with Justice Kennedy).

So what’s next for Rachel Brand (in addition to a bouncing baby boy)? She’s rumored to be meeting with various private law firms — and any of them would be lucky to snag this young legal superstar.
Brand has devoted the past six and a half years of her career to government service. She leaves the Bush Administration even more highly esteemed, on both sides of the aisle, than when she came in. This is no small feat, given the controversies that have shaken the DOJ, as well as the highly partisan atmosphere currently prevailing here in Washington.
We congratulate Rachel Brand on her successful leadership of the Office of Legal Policy, and we wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors — including motherhood!
(Disclosure: We’d mention that we are friendly with Rachel Brand, but we know from past experience that many of you don’t like such disclaimers, which come across as shameless name-dropping. So we won’t.)
Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously identified Jonathan Cohn as Deputy Attorney General, rather than Deputy Assistant Attorney General (his correct title).
Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand Announces Departure [U.S. Dept. of Justice (press release)]
Bush Is Told to Justify Executive Privilege [Washington Post]
DOJ Loses Brand [The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]
Seventh official quits Justice Department [Reuters]
Justice Department Official Resigns [Associated Press]
Earlier: Rachel Brand: The Prom Queen Stays Out of Trouble

Rose Garden White House Above the Law blog.jpgIt’s a beautiful April afternoon (at least here on the East Coast). You shouldn’t be in front of your computer right now.
But in case you are, here are a few quick items of interest:
1. Columbia Faculty Hire Faces Human Rights Questions [New York Sun]

We went to law school with Matt Waxman (OT 2000/Souter). It’s unfortunate that he’s the subject of such controversy, because he’s a true mensch — and one of the “good guys” with respect to human rights issues. As the Sun notes:

“The criticism of Mr. Waxman as insensitive to human rights concerns is seen as paradoxical in some circles since he dissented from aspects of the Bush administration’s policy on detainees and argued that the Geneva Conventions should be the official policy for all those in military hands.”

2. Another Development in Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney [Leonard Link]

There’s always something to say about the Aaron Charney / Sullivan & Cromwell litigation. In this excellent post, Professor Arthur Leonard offers some intriguing speculation about some recent (and bizarre) developments in the case.

3. Tampa stadium authority asks court for tighter security [ESPN.com]

The federal government is being represented by Jonathan Cohn (OT 2000/Thomas), another former O’Scannlain clerk, currently serving as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Appellate. Good luck, Jon!

musical chairs above the law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFA number of big-ticket moves to report today. The most notable involve government lawyers:
Government to Private Sector:
* Debra Wong Yang, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California (Los Angeles), has resigned from the USAO. She’s headed to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, as a partner (duh). Ka-ching!
Yang will work out of the firm’s L.A. office. She will co-chair its Crisis-Management Group, along with former Solictor General Theodore Olson and another former federal prosecutor, Randy Mastro.
At Main Justice:
* Jonathan Cohn (OT 2000/Thomas) is now the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Appellate. He was previously the DAAG overseeing the Office of Immigration Litigation (and will continue to discharge that duty until a successor is found).
rachel brand jonathan cohn.JPGAt right: Jonathan Cohn and his wife, Rachel Brand (OT 2002/Kennedy), the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy. Although his portfolio has changed (and we’d say for the better), he doesn’t have to get new business cards, since he’s still a DAAG.
Out the Door:
* Casualties of the stock options backdating scandal: Stuart Nichols, former general counsel of KLA-Tencor, and David Lubben, former general counsel of UnitedHealth.
Lateral Moves:
* Corporate lawyer Arthur Hull Hayes III, to Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, from Dewey Ballantine.
* Technology, media, and telecom lawyer Carole Aciman, to Greenberg Traurig, from Hughes Hubbard & Reed.
* King & Spalding: The intellectual property practice acquires five new lawyers: Kenneth Sonnenfeld (NY) and John Harbin, Tony Askew, Steve Schaetzel, and Jim Johnson (in Atlanta). They came from Morgan & Finnegan (Sonnenfeld), Powell Goldstein (Harbin), and Kilpatrick Stockton (Askew, Schaetzel and Johnson).
And Another One Gone, And Another One Gone… [WSJ Law Blog]
L.A. U.S. Attorney Debra Yang Resigns; Will Join Gibson Dunn [WSJ Law Blog]
NY Partners Switching Firms [NYLawyer.com]
More NY Partners Switching Firms [NYLawyer.com]

o'scannlain reunion 9.JPG

Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, Mrs. Maura O’Scannlain, and two decades’ worth of law clerks and judicial assistants. (We apologize for the less-than-stellar quality of this pic. If you live in the D.C. area and would like to give us a tutorial in digital photography, email us.)


Our photo essay about the historic Pioneer Courthouse, in Portland, Oregon, is complete . But our coverage of “DFOpalooza” — the delightful weekend of events celebrating Ninth Circuit Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain’s 20th judicial anniversary — isn’t quite done.
After the jump, more fun photographs. We traveled across the country to be there, so we intend to milk it for all it’s worth. And, of course, it’s good publicity for our awesome former boss.
If you’re a federal judge who’s wondering, “Why isn’t my law clerk reunion being covered this lavishly?”, there’s a solution: Invite us to your next one! (Hey Frank — we hear your house in Alaska is pretty sweet.)

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