* Was it Anthony Weiner’s wiener that went out over Twitter? The congressman isn’t saying. [Daily Caller via Instapundit]
* Professor Sasha Volokh floats the intriguing idea of prison vouchers: “What would the world look like if, instead of assigning prisoners to particular prisons bureaucratically, we gave them vouchers, good for one incarceration, that they were required to redeem at a participating prison?” [Volokh Conspiracy]
We 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 UnionSpecial Envoy for EU Affairs. WilmerHale Adds Top DOJ and Congressional Investigation Lawyers To Public Policy and Strategy Team [WilmerHale]
We’ve been writing a fairamount about Jeffrey Toobin’s exciting new book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. Its scheduled publication date is September 18, but we’ve gotten our grubby paws on a copy. We’ll have more to say after we’ve read it.
In the meantime, check out this great report from ABC News, which highlights some of the book’s juiciest parts. It mentions the business about a crying Justice Souter, which is already old news, but it also has these tidbits:
* The decision to rush the swearing-in of Justice Clarence Thomas spared the controversial nominee the publication of more embarrassing personal revelations than Anita Hill’s notorious testimony. That same day, three Washington Post reporters were set to write a story about Thomas’ extensive taste for pornography, including accounts from eyewitnesses such as the manager of his local video store. “But since Thomas had been sworn in, the Post decided not to pursue the issue and dropped the story.”
* Former Chief Justice Warren Burger, an Anglophile who collected antiques and fine wines, was so vain that “he placed a large cushion on his center seat on the bench, so he would appear taller than his colleagues.”
* Rehnquist was not impressed with Bill Clinton and his wife. When told that the newly elected president was thinking of nominating Hillary as attorney general, the chief justice quipped, “They say Caligula appointed his horse counsel [consul?] of Rome.”
Plus there’s a great story about the justices trying to get to the Court during a snowstorm — lawlessness and hilarity ensue — and some gossip about Justice Souter’s love life. Read the full article here.
Meanwhile, in other Jeffrey Toobin news, he’s conducting an awesome event later this month at the New Yorker Festival. It’s a conversation about the future of the Supreme Court, featuring two of our favorite members of the Elect: Rachel Brand (OT 2002 / Kennedy) from the right, and Neal Katyal (OT 1996 / Breyer) from the left.
We wouldn’t miss it for the world. If you’d like to attend, ticket information is available here. Tickets to Festival events go on sale at 12 noon E.T. on September 15th, at ticketmaster.com — and they tend to go fast. So mark your calendars! Under the Robes: Secrets of the Supreme Court [ABC News] Rachel Brand, Neal Katyal, and Jeffrey Toobin: The Future of the Supreme Court [New Yorker Festival]
Can you blame Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for not being more in the loop on the U.S. Attorney firings? He’s been holding down not one but TWO demanding jobs. Check out the DOJ homepage (unchanged as of this morning, despite this Friday afternoon post by Wonkette):
If Alberto Gonzales can survive the revelation that “he” is actually a female, drug-trafficking terrorist — who may possibly be related to Wilmer Valderrama — then clearly he’s untouchable.
Meanwhile, in other Justice Department news (expect announcements later today or tomorrow):
The stylish pumps of the fabulous Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand, whose last day as head of the Office of Legal Policy is today, will be filled on an acting basis by another former Kennedy clerk, Brett Gerry (OT 2000).
Okay, 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
The U.S. Attorney firing scandal rolls on. The WSJ Law Blog has a good linkwrap, highlighing the latest developments.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is frantically preparing for his make-or-break testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow. Remember the musical montage in Back to School, in which Rodney Dangerfield is shown cramming for his final exams — studying while eating, while on the treadmill, while getting a massage? We imagine Gonzales’s preparation for his SJC testimony has been a lot like that.
Anyway, here’s the development that excited us the most recently: how the fantabulous Rachel Brand — Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy, a rising star in conservative legal circles, and the reigning Prom Queen of the Federalist Society — narrowly escaped being dragged into this whole mess.
Recently released emails show that Brand was considered as a possible replacement for one of the ousted U.S. Attorneys. From the New York Times:
Rachel L. Brand, by her own admission, has never prosecuted so much as a traffic case. But in January 2006, when Justice Department officials began to discuss removing some United States attorneys, Ms. Brand was proposed as the top federal prosecutor in the Western District of Michigan, an e-mail message released on Friday shows.
In the end, Ms. Brand, who heads the Office of Legal Policy in the department, decided that she did not want the position and was not nominated to succeed Margaret M. Chiara, then the top prosecutor for the district. Ms. Chiara was later ousted.
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 — no Monica Goodling, she).
We’re glad to see that Rachel Brand has managed to steer clear of this whole mess, with her excellent reputation intact, and her dazzling career prospects undimmed by this controversy. Go Rachel!!! Political Résumé, Not Court, Stood Out for a Contender [New York Times] The U.S. Attorney Mess: A Monday Morning Roundup [WSJ Law Blog]
We previously wrote about President Bush’s selection of Fred Fielding as his new White House counsel. Our coverage was based on a pre-announcement scoop by Time, not an actual announcement from the White House.
Just to close the loop on this, the rumor was correct: Fielding’s selection is now official. Here’s the (predictably bland) White House press release.
From the New York Times:
Mr. Fielding’s agreement to take the job surprised some of his closest friends. The friends said last week, when his name surfaced as a contender for the position, that they would be surprised if he would give up a successful corporate practice for another stint of what promises to be heavy partisan battle at age 67.
Mr. Fielding was deputy counsel to President Richard M. Nixon under John W. Dean III and was White House counsel for the first five years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
Further discussion, plus speculation about the next Deputy White House Counsel, after the jump.
President Bush famously described Harriet E. Miers, the outgoing White House counsel, as “a pit bull in size six shoes.” Woof woof!
But some White House insiders viewed Harriet Miers as insufficiently canine. Per the Washington Post:
Miers, a longtime Bush loyalist whose nomination to the Supreme Court was withdrawn in 2005 as a result of conservative opposition, led an office that will oversee legal clashes that could erupt if Democrats aggressively use their new subpoena power. Bush advisers inside and outside the White House concluded that she is not equipped for such a battle….
The White House did not announce a replacement but has settled on someone to take on the assignment, according to several advisers who did not disclose the name.
If you have thoughts about who this person might be, we’d love to hear from you.
Further discussion and speculation, after the jump.
* Some interesting comments about Harriet Miers getting a Fifth Circuit nomination, as well as speculation about who might replace her as White House counsel. [ConfirmThem]
(We second the suggestion of Rachel Brand (at right). Brand previously worked in the White House counsel’s office, before her appointment to head the Office of Legal Policy at the Justice Department.)
* From an Instpaundit correspondent: “I’m no law prof, but isn’t the presumption of innocence most useful before a pile of facts come out indicating that the accused are, in fact, innocent?” [Instapundit]
* Speaking of which, check out Best Defense, which “seeks to place the presumption of innocence front and center.” [Bag and Baggage]
* Jeez, he’s even more of a tool than we thought. Can someone please talk some sense into him about 2008? [Althouse]
* Backlash to the backlash against (allegedly) excessive executive pay. [Point of Law via Dealbreaker]
* Amen. With the exception of news aggregators, blogs are by their nature idiosyncratic, rather than comprehensive. So don’t get your briefs in a wad when we fail to write about your pet topic. [Volokh Conspiracy; Althouse]
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]
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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