Big news out of Washington today: Bob Bauer is stepping down as White House counsel. He’s returning to his former firm, Perkins Coie, where he will represent Barack Obama as his personal lawyer and serve as general counsel to President Obama’s re-election campaign. Bauer is being replaced by his top deputy, leading litigatrix Kathryn Ruemmler.
Kathy Ruemmler is no stranger to these pages. She’s famous for her role as a lead prosecutrix in the Enron fraud case — and for her fabulous footwear.
Let’s learn more about Ruemmler’s shoes — are they peep-toes? — and review her impressive résumé….
For deputy prosecutor Kirmille Welbon, it's all about the shoes.
What the hell is going on with female lawyers in Indiana? Last month, a lawyer there was accused of going on a rampage, in which she allegedly attacked a boyfriend she suspected of cheating and then assaulted a corrections officer. Today we’ve got another attorney — a deputy prosecutor, no less — accused of violence. She allegedly attacked the wife of a man she was sleeping with.
That’s right, the “other woman” apparently attacked the wife. You can’t attack the spouse if you are the other woman. Doesn’t anybody respect the rules? When did Indiana turn into Vietnam?
And things didn’t even get out of hand until the other woman asked the wife to return a pair of Air Jordans, which just makes Indiana look like it’s operating 20 years behind the times…
Don’t worry, I’m not going to ruin the season finale of Mad Men for those who still have it sitting in their DVRs.
Instead, I’m here to remind people that Mad Men is a television show set in a time long since past. Much to the disappointment of white males everywhere, those days are gone and never coming back.
Of course, nostalgia (and the cultural memory of a time when white men were in unquestioned positions of dominance) is a powerful thing. It must be sad to know that winning the birth lottery doesn’t pay off quite as much as it used to. But that’s no excuse for trying to force an anachronistic worldview upon your current working environment. Society has moved on; at some point living in the past stops being “traditional” and starts getting “obsolete.”
And maybe even “illegal.” That’s the argument a former secretary at the firm of Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn is trying to make. She clams that the firm’s “old-school” policies created a hostile work environment and caused her to suffer a physical injury.
According to the secretary’s lawyer, administrative assistants at Honigman are required to strut to work in high heels…
Last week, I wrote (with great pleasure) about whether women lawyers should wear peep-toe shoes to court. In my informal poll of seven federal judges, the vote broke down roughly as follows: four in favor, two opposed, and one in the middle. (See the update — Judge Susan Graber seemed agnostic on peep-toes, but advised lawyers, male and female alike, “to consider comfort and color” in footwear choices.)
One of the judges who dissented, lodging her opposition to a litigatrix sporting peep-toe shoes in court, was Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw (9th Cir.):
My view is that if you have a question about the appropriateness of your attire, don’t risk it. Women appearing in court should never wear anything that draws attention to their anatomy over the merits of their case. You just never know how your audience — judges, jurors, clients or senior partners — will react. It’s better to play it safe in formal settings and save the peep-toes for after hours.
But don’t get the wrong impression about Judge Wardlaw, who is fierce and fabulous (see my earlier interview of her). She is not some fashion fuddy-duddy. Although she recommends against lawyers wearing peep-toes to court, she owns many pairs of herself, which she happily wears in chambers.
Check out these photos of Judge Wardlaw modeling peep-toe shoes, sent to Above the Law by her colleague on the Ninth Circuit, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski….
Earlier today, on the Senate floor, debate took place on whether to confirm Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th Supreme Court justice. The Kagan nomination is not very controversial, due to the nominee’s impeccable credentials and the Democrats’ 59 votes in the Senate.
In the legal blogosphere, a far more divisive debate is raging, over a subject just as important as confirming the fourth woman ever to the Supreme Court: Are peep-toe shoes appropriate professional footwear? Can female attorneys wear them to the office? What about to court?
The debate was ignited over at The Careerist, by Vivia Chen (no style slouch herself — not many legal journalists own floor-length mink coats). Chen recounted this anecdote:
Waiting in line in the ladies room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel recently, I heard this discussion: “In my day, I always wore pumps to court,” said in a woman in her fifties. “Can you believe this associate went to court with open-toe shoes?” Her companion shook her head, then asked: “How did she do?” The first woman replied, “Her work was good, but her shoes weren’t right.”
Chen then surveyed a number of lawyers, from around the country, and they could not reach a consensus on the appropriateness of peep-toe shoes. The debate continued over at the ABA Journal, where a post by Debra Cassens Weiss generated a flurry of comments.
Given that so many law firms are business casual nowadays, it is probably safe to wear peep-toe shoes to the office. The fashion guidelines issued by the New York office of Weil Gotshal, for example, officially bless “open toe or open heel shoes.” (Still unacceptable: “Athletic shoes, clogs, beach shoes, flip flops, beach shoes.”)
But what about wearing peep-toe shoes to court? On this subject, we decided to turn to the experts: namely, a panel of fabulous female federal judges….
At first we were of the opinion that Balenciaga’s “Lego shoe” was too hideous to merit copying. But then we learned that Beyonce has been spotted in a pair. If it’s good enough for Beyonce, it’s good enough for the rest of us, right?
That was apparently the thinking of Steve Madden, which produced a very similar-looking shoe. Balenciaga’s original is on the left; the Madden version is on the right.
But Balenciaga’s not taking this sitting down. Earlier this week, the company sued Steve Madden.
What claims are being made in the lawsuit? Come up with some guesses. Then read more (and comment) over at our sister site, Fashionista. Balenciaga Sues Steve Madden [Fashionista]
Sensible shoes are for liberal chicks. Say hello to fabulous Federalist footwear!
As you may have noticed, from our twoposts late on Monday night and one from Tuesday morning, we’re engaging in some after-the-fact blogging of last week’s Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention.
As in past years, the social highlight of the conference was the Thursday night banquet (black tie optional; and many availed themselves of the option, ’cause that’s how conservatives roll). The speaker at the dinner was none other than Justice Samuel A. Alito, who delivered an insightful and hilarious speech that was a delight to listen to. Just as one might say of, say, a newscast by Jon Stewart, much of the entertainment value was in the delivery — Justice Alito is so dry and deadpan, and yet his remarks make you bust out laughing.
Interestingly enough, we haven’t come across many news accounts of Justice Alito’s speech. There was also no video recording allowed at the address. So we feel we can add some value with this write-up, despite its belated nature.
There may have been some confusion over the ground rules governing reporting about the speech. From the BLT:
Justice Samuel Alito Jr. spoke to the Federalist Society [last Thursday] night, but photos of him doing so are hard to come by. That’s because photographers other than the Federalist Society’s own were barred from the event. Keith Appell, a spokesman for the Federalist Society, said cameras were prohibited by Alito’s security detail….
Kathy Arberg, the court spokeswoman, said “The justice’s policy was that the event was open to still cameras and pencil press,” and that the Federalist Society was informed of that policy before the event.
Well, photos from the event aren’t hard to come by on Above the Law. Nobody told us that we couldn’t take photographs — so we did. And, as members of the “pencil press,” we jotted down notes in our reporter’s notebook. (We left the laptop at the hotel that night.)
Check out a slideshow of our pictures, along with a discussion of Justice Alito’s highly engaging and entertaining address, after the jump.
We are not fans of Crocs here at Above the Law. We stand by this position, even though First Lady Michelle Obama — aka She Who Can Do No Wrong — has been spotted in them.
Apparently we are not alone in our opposition to Crocs. It seems that the people at Porsche — yes, the luxury sports car maker — have sued the footwear folks. In Germany.
Seriously? Yup. The lawsuit was mentioned in the Crocs (CROX) third quarter 10-Q, which is how it came to the attention of our sister site, Going Concern (via Footnoted).
So what is Porsche suing Crocs over? Find out at the links below. Deadline Watch: Porsche Suing Crocs For ‘Cayman’ Use [Going Concern] Porsche vs. Crocs… [Footnoted.org] Earlier: Crocs: Ugly and Dangerous
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: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…