As previously discussed, Matthew Waxman — a member of the Elect (OT 2000/Souter), and a law school classmate of ours — is headed for academia. He recently accepted an offer to join the faculty of Columbia Law School. Congratulations, Matt!
But in the meantime, Waxman is pretty busy over at the State Department. Steve Clemons of the Washington Note writes:
Policy Planning Director Stephen Krasner has now officially departed for Stanford — and “Acting Director Matthew Waxman” is in place.
Waxman is an ideas entrepreneur with character (he is one of the real insider heroes who while at DoD fought against the erosion of the Geneva Conventions on torture). He also gets strategy and knows that water wars, transnational disease transmission, environmental challenges posed by climate change dynamics, massive refugee crises, and other non-traditional problems must be dealt with as well as thinking through how a superpower manages its interests in a world where other superpowers — and even not so super powers — aren’t the overriding security challenge.
Clemons shares our high opinion of Waxman — and thinks that his appointment as Policy Planning Director should be made permanent:
[P]erhaps State should remove the “acting” from Matthew Waxman’s title and roll the dice on someone who appears to many to be a 21st century “young Yoda.” Waxman, who I have met on occasion, reminds me of a hybrid of strategic wunderkind Paul Nitze and Eisenhower acolyte Andy Goodpaster.
One senior State Department official believes that Condi Rice “wants a name” heading Policy Planning — someone “with more stature.” But this is a pivotal time in American history and foreign policy. Not a lot of what we did yesterday will be that helpful in thinking through what we need to do tomorrow. Everything needs to be rethought.
It’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.”
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.
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!
One of you thinks that this news warrants a Saturday post. And we see your point.*
The article in question is running on the front page of the New York Times, above the fold. So, from the NYT:
The senior Pentagon official in charge of military detainees suspected of terrorism said in an interview this week that he was dismayed that lawyers at many of the nation’s top firms were representing prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that the firms’ corporate clients should consider ending their business ties.
The comments by Charles D. Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, produced an instant torrent of anger from lawyers, legal ethics specialists and bar association officials, who said Friday that his comments were repellent and displayed an ignorance of the duties of lawyers to represent people in legal trouble….
When asked in the radio interview who was paying for the legal representation, Mr. Stimson replied: “It’s not clear, is it? Some will maintain that they are doing it out of the goodness of their heart, that they’re doing it pro bono, and I suspect they are; others are receiving moneys from who knows where, and I’d be curious to have them explain that.”
Props to this Charles Stimson fellow. Even if his views may be completely misguided, we like anyone who stirs up a s**tstorm.
Discussion continues 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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