Office of Legal Policy

WilmerHale Wilmer Hale 2 Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGWe bring you news of a career move by one of America’s most fabulous young lawyers. From a press release issued by WilmerHale:

WilmerHale is pleased to announce that Rachel L. Brand and Mark D. Nelson will join the firm’s Washington, DC public policy and strategy practice focusing on congressional investigations, regulatory affairs and crisis management. Ms. Brand will also be active in the firm’s government litigation and defense and national security practices. Ms. Brand was most recently Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy, where she served as chief policy and regulatory advisor to the Attorney General and managed the confirmation process for Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito.

Wait, hold on a sec — Rachel Brand? As in young-conservative-superstar Rachel Brand, known in some circles as the Federalist Society Prom Queen?
Are you sure there hasn’t been some mistake? Maybe Brand went to another D.C. law firm whose name starts with a “W,” like Wiley Rein — perhaps a more natural home for a prominent Republican attorney?
WilmerHale, after all, is one of Washington’s most high-profile, left-leaning law firms. It’s home to leading liberal lawyers like former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, a possible Attorney General or Defense Secretary in a Democratic administration; former Solicitor General Seth Waxman, a possible judicial (D.C. Circuit?) nominee; Randy Moss, former head of the DOJ’s super-elite Office of Legal Counsel; and Howard Shapiro, former general counsel to the FBI. [FN1]
But no, it’s true — Brand is at Wilmer Hale. Word on the street, in fact, is that the firm is actively looking for Republican lawyers like Brand and Nelson. Perhaps they need someone to hold down the fort when everyone bails to serve in the Obama Administration?
We spoke to Rachel Brand yesterday, her first day of work. You know how useless first days can be — paperwork, orientation, technology training. “They taught me how to turn on my computer,” she quipped.
As for her new gig, Brand expressed excitement about the opportunity to join WilmerHale, “a great firm with some incredible lawyers.” She noted the abundance of lawyers with government experience at WilmerHale and said that her skill set fit well with the firm.
We wish Brand and Nelson the best of luck in their new professional home.
(We tried to contact Nelson but were unable to reach him. The WilmerHale telephone operator did not have an extension for him. Perhaps he isn’t in the office yet? If he is, someone needs to give his phone number to the receptionist.)
[FN1] As it turns out, a number of prominent Republicans are current or former WilmerHale partners. E.g., current partner Reginald Brown, who most recently served in the White House Counsel’s office, and former partner C. Boyden Gray, currently U.S. ambassador to the European Union Special Envoy for EU Affairs.
WilmerHale Adds Top DOJ and Congressional Investigation Lawyers To Public Policy and Strategy Team [WilmerHale]

michael lee mike lee christopher paolella chris paolella matthew schwartz matt schwartz gordon todd.JPGsamuel alito jr samuel a alito jr justice alito.jpgSorry it has taken us so long. As promised months ago, we now begin our series profiling current Supreme Court clerks (aka the “October Term 2006″ or “OT 2006″ law clerks).
We’ll be going chambers by chambers, starting with the most junior justice. Here are the four law clerks to Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:

1. Michael S. Lee (BYU ’97/Benson (D. Utah)/Alito)

2. Christopher J. Paolella (Harvard ’99/Alito)

3. Matthew A. Schwartz (Columbia ’03/Alito)

4. Gordon D. Todd (UVA ’00/Beam)

As a member of the Alito extended family explained to us, here’s the key to understanding the Alito chambers: 3:1. This golden ratio perfectly captures the demographics of the OT 2006 Alito clerks. Consider:

1. Familial status: three are married with children, one is not (Chris Paolella — married, but no kids yet).

2. Undergraduate institution: three are Princetonians, one is not (Michael Lee — BYU).

3. Prior Alito clerkship: three previously clerked for then-Judge Alito on the Third Circuit, one did not (Gordon Todd).

4. Religious affiliation: three are Christian,* one is not (Matthew Schwartz — he’s Jewish).

5. College debate: three were gods of the parliamentary debate circuit, and former presidents of the American Parliamentary Debate Assocation (APDA); one was not (Michael Lee).

But we wouldn’t want such commonalities to overshadow the individuality of these gents. Check out our profiles of Messrs. Lee, Paolella, Schwartz, and Todd — after the jump.
* Mitt Romney footnote: Michael Lee is Mormon, which we consider to be Christian. Presidential candidate Romney hopes that evangelical Christians voting in the Republican primaries will agree with us.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice Alito’s OT 2006 Law Clerks”

necktie 1.JPGA recent meme of the legal blogosphere: neckties.
We find this subject hard to resist, since it lies at the intersection of two of our favorite topics: fashion and law. Because of the staid fashion standards of the legal profession — dark suits, white or blue shirts, black shoes (or brown if you’re wild ‘n crazy) — one of the few ways male lawyers can express themselves sartorially is through their ties.
Here are a few quick links and thoughts:
* One of the more random things we’ve heard of ex-practicing-lawyers going into. But it’s probably more fun than document review, or two-hour conference calls in which nothing is accomplished. [WSJ Law Blog]
* An excellent taxonomy of neckwear, from Raffi Melkonian of Crescat (who, as we know from his food-related posts, knows how to live the good life). [Crescat Sententia]
We agree with Raffi’s endorsement of Zegna ties (and own about half a dozen ourselves). But we also have a weakness for the Hermès school of ties in fun patterns — and would add Ferragamo to this grouping.
One of our favorite ties is a red Ferragamo, with a zany print of dancing Asian coolies (pictured at right). Back in our law firm days, when we sometimes felt like a highly-paid coolie, we’d wear this necktie as a form of silent protest. A $120 tie, emblazoned with dancing coolie workers, was the perfect embodiment of the Biglaw predicament.
* Finally, here are some necktie thoughts from Professor Glenn Reynolds. Brooks Brothers makes some nice ties, but they can be a little unexciting. So the Instapundit wisely balances these out with printed ties from museum shops. [Instapundit]
P.S. The best personal necktie collection we know of is owned by the Justice Department’s Office of Sartorial Counsel (aka Ryan Bounds, Chief of Staff for the Office of Legal Policy).


Last week, an investiture ceremony was held for Judge Neil Gorsuch, recently confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. And it was a star-studded affair. From the Denver Post:

Seven-year-old Emma and 5-year-old Belinda helped their father, Neil Gorsuch, into his judge’s robes Monday after the newly appointed 10th Circuit Court judge was sworn in.

Munching on cookies after the formal ceremony, Emma said she thought it “was nice.”

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was in Denver to administer the oath, spoke directly to the little girls before Gorsuch raised his right hand. “He’s doing it to remind all of us that the first obligation any American has is to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States,” he said.

Justice Kennedy’s pedagogical impulse is admirable. We suspect, however, that Emma and Belinda were thinking more about cookies than the Constitution.
Some supplementary coverage, from an ATL tipster:

The entire en banc 10th Circuit was present. Justice Kennedy administered the oath. Attorney General Gonzales read the commission. Both Colorado Senators made remarks, as did Mark Hansen of Kellogg Huber (the insanely prestigious appellate shop from which Gorsuch rose). Half of the Justice Department was there: Rachel Brand, Elisebeth Collins Cook, Brett Gerry, Wan Kim, Gregory Katsas, among others.

The Gorsuch clerks showed everyone around Denver and got trashed on consecutive nights. Good times were had by all.

Article III groupies, Judge Neil Gorsuch is one to watch. He’s brilliant, he’s young, and he’s incredibly well-connected. Look for him to rise through the ranks of Supreme Court feeder judges in the years to come — and, perhaps, to be nominated to the Court himself someday.
(Judge Gorsuch is taking the seat of Judge David Ebel, who has been the Tenth Circuit’s resident feeder judge for quite some time now. Guess that’s the 10th Circuit’s designated “feeder seat.”)
Update: Would someone be able to locate and/or send us a good photo of Judge Gorsuch for our files? Our quick Googling didn’t produce anything useful.
10th Circuit judge’s oath a family affair [Denver Post]

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.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Another Dispatch from DFOpalooza”

In a web-exclusive article published yesterday — and picked up by Drudge, so tout le monde read it — Time magazine proffered this delicious tidbit:

[President Bush] is curtailing his traditional August working vacation at the ranch so that he can barnstorm before the midterm elections. Their outlook thus far seems so ominous for the G.O.P. that one presidential adviser wants Bush to beef up his counsel’s office for the tangle of investigations that a Democrat-controlled House might pursue.

This report is consistent with what we’ve heard about the staff of White House Counsel Harriet Miers. (Yes, that Harriet Miers — she of the unfortunate hairstyles and aborted Supreme Court bid.)
Here are some of the forthcoming additions to the White House Counsel staff:

* The strappingly handsome Brent J. McIntosh, currently a deputy assistant attorney general at the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy, is joining the ranks of Miers’s minions. McIntosh is replacing his Yale Law School classmate and good friend, conservative legal superstar Brett Gerry. (Gerry — a former law clerk to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, as well as a descendant of American founding father Elbridge Gerry — is taking a high-ranking post at the Justice Department’s new National Security Division.)
* Wachtell Lipton associate Kenneth Lee is leaving that renowned Manhattan sweatshop — with its killer hours and eye-popping paychecks — to join the White House Counsel’s office. Lawyers in the White House Counsel’s office work long hours. But this move might be a lifestyle improvement for the beleaguered Lee, a veteran of some of Wachtell’s grimmest cases (e.g., the Larry Silverstein/World Trade Center litigation).

A position at the White House Counsel’s office is one of the most prestigious and exciting gigs that a lawyer can obtain. So it’s not surprising that Brent McIntosh and Ken Lee are willing to leave their current jobs — which are high-profile, in McIntosh’s case, and lucrative, in Lee’s case — for a Pennsylvania Avenue posting.
If you have any more info about comings and goings at the White House Counsel’s office, please drop us a line.
Into the Fray [Time]
Time: Presidential adviser wants Bush to ‘beef up’ White House Counsel’s office fearing possible Dem-controlled House probes [Raw Story]