Sonia Sotomayor

Legal outsourcing makes her happy.

* Demand for attorneys well-versed in animal law is on the rise as pet owners push for recognition of their pets as family members rather than ordinary property. Which reminds me of my dog Rascal. He ate his own crap, licked furniture, and once peed on a baby. And when he died, my parents looked at me and said, “It should have been you.” [Baltimore Sun]

* Yesterday in the life of Mikhail Khodorkovsky has American diplomats crying about a traveshamockery. [Bloomberg]

* Joe Miller may allow Lisa Murkowski to be certified as the winner of Alaska’s contested U.S. Senate seat, but Miller isn’t done scrapping and a’clawing. Shine on you crazy diamond. Shine on. [Washington Post]

* 200 massholes in the Massachusetts Legislature and only 52 of them are attorneys. [Boston Globe]

* Sotomayor, so hot right now. Sotomayor. [New York Times]

* Another article about legal outsourcing. Better bone up on your trivia, slumdogs. Ouch. That one barely makes sense. [Chicago Tribune]

* The Brits have beefed up their laws against companies bribing foreign officials. Reached for comment, Mr. Bean made a stupid face. [Wall Street Journal]

Welcome to the second installment of Under the Shingle, an occasional round-up of news and musings from the world of small firms and solo practitioners. In other words, you get a break from me — mostly.

I’ve added a bit of play-by-play to explain and connect these links, which cover such topics as the intersection of solo firms and SCOTUS, solos going big, and the big bad ABA trying to put their laws on your solo body.

Solo to SCOTUS:
A 33-year-old solo on why he left his Biglaw office in favor of working out of a spare bedroom and having his mother as his paralegal: “I wanted to create my own reality.” Well, now his reality includes SCOTUS experience after being granted cert at the last second. Before any of you aspiring solos out there get too excited, know this: his reality also includes borrowing cash from his little brother and eating a lot of PB&Js.

More links, after the jump.

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Does the statute cover depictions of violence against Vulcans?

– Justice Sonia Sotomayor, asking whether video violence against “an image of a human being” could be extended to human-like figures, during oral arguments for Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association.


* Gawker is now offering Donald Trump money to shut up. You could say that Gawker is not getting any consideration in this deal, but you’d be very wrong. [Gawker]

* Alice Lingo, the lawyer-turned-cleaning-lady we posted about yesterday, has a Biglaw background. [Law Shucks]

* Professor Jonathan Adler has a detailed write-up of Sonia From the Block’s recent talk to Case Western law students. Justice Sotomayor: clerkship offers or it didn’t happen. [Volokh Conspiracy ]

* Meanwhile, Lady Kaga might only be working part-time for her first Term. [WSJ Law Blog]

* A California federal judge ruled DADT unconstitutional — making it the perfect time check out this 2009 NYU Law Revue skit. [YouTube]

* If it is possible to stop with political, religious, and racial fighting (and other assorted crap) for just one day, could that day be tomorrow? [Associated Press]

This should not come as a huge surprise, but Solicitor General Elena Kagan was just confirmed by the Senate as to be the 112th justice of the United States Supreme Court. Kagan, the first woman to serve as Solicitor General, is the fourth woman ever to serve on the Court.

CORRECTION: I replaced “as” with “to be” after receiving this from a former White House official: “I feel compelled to point out that the Senate confirmed Kagan TO BE the 112th justice, after which President Obama likely appointed her AS the 112th justice. Marbury, Madison, etc.”

The vote to confirm Kagan was 63-37. Check out C-SPAN for the full tally (scroll down). Ashby Jones has the highlights:

Fifty-eight Democrats and independents, as well as five Republicans, voted for Kagan. Thirty-six Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted against the nominee.

The five Republicans who supported Kagan were Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.

The current U.S. Supreme Court lineup (once Kagan is officially sworn in): Chief Justice John Roberts (Bush 43) and Justices Antonin Scalia (Reagan), Anthony Kennedy (Reagan), Clarence Thomas (Bush 41), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Clinton), Stephen Breyer (Clinton), Samuel Alito (Bush 43), Sonia Sotomayor (Obama) and Elena Kagan (Obama).

UPDATE: In case you’re curious, President Obama’s prior SCOTUS nominee, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was confirmed last year by a vote of 68-31, with nine Republicans in support. Three Republicans voted for Sotomayor but not Kagan: Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Christopher Bond (Mo.), and Voinovich (Ohio). Scott Brown (Mass.) — who introduced Kagan at her hearings, by the way — voted against her (but wasn’t in the Senate yet for the Sotomayor vote). So did George LeMieux (Fla.), who replaced Mel Martinez (a pro-Sotomayor Republican).

After the Kagan vote, the Divine Miss K’s successor as Harvard Law School dean, Martha Minow, sent out a celebratory email at HLS….

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As I noted in my liveblogging of Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings, Solicitor General Kagan decided to wear the same outfit that then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor wore to day one of her confirmation hearings: an electric blue blazer over a black blouse.

A reader who was also struck by this sartorial similarity sent us a photographic comparison. Check it out, and vote in our reader poll….

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Sorry, we didn’t mean to get your hopes up (or maybe we did). The famously sphinx-like Justice Thomas did not ask a question at oral argument yesterday — but he did open his mouth and emit hearty laughs. From CNN:

Sometimes the most complicated of cases at the Supreme Court brings out the best arguments. It certainly brought out the giggles in a little-watched appeal Tuesday over federal prison terms.

The justices managed to crack themselves up — along with the public audience — at least a dozen times in the hour-long oral debate. Justice Clarence Thomas rarely speaks at the high court’s normally sober sessions, but he especially enjoyed the gentle insults and self-deprecating jibes his colleagues showered on each other. His booming laugh could be clearly heard at times.

So what gave CT a case of the chuckles during Barber v. Thomas?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Amusing Oral Argument: Justice Thomas Opens His Mouth, and Justice Sotomayor Struggles With Math”

David Souter Justice David H Souter David Hackett Souter.jpgJustice David H. Souter may be gone from the Supreme Court, but he has not been forgotten. He still gets recognized in public, for example. From an ATL reader in Beantown:

After a day of toil for a client adamantly opposed to paying for nighttime cab rides home, I walked to Boston’s Park Street subway station. A little before 10:00 PM last night, as I turned the corner at the turnstiles, I saw an impeccably dressed man in a form-fitting suit and a red tie. Turns out it was Justice David Souter, in Boston for some pinch-hitting on the First Circuit.

So what did our tipster do next?

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Lawyer of the Year 2009 AboveTheLaw blog Above the Law ATL.jpgVoting has concluded in our LAWYER OF THE YEAR contest. From over 160 comments, we developed a slate of ten nominees. Over 1,600 votes later, we have a winner.

With so many worthy competitors, the voting was close. These were your top three vote-getters, each with over 15 percent of the vote:

  • The Anonymous Laid-Off Big Firm Attorney: Last year certainly created many more laid-off lawyers — almost 5,000 of them, according to conservative estimates — and also brought to light the stories of many individual laid-off attorneys. E.g., Roxana St. Thomas, of Notes from the Breadline; Mark Levy, former chair of the Supreme Court and appellate practice of Kilpatrick Stockton, who took his own life in April 2009.
  • Sonia Sotomayor: In August 2009, this Wise Latina Woman made history, becoming the 111th justice, the third female justice, and the first Latina justice of the United States Supreme Court.
  • A. William Urquhart: Bill Urquhart, a name partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, is one of the country’s top litigators. In October 2009, he sent out a famous firm-wide email urging all Quinn lawyers to show constant vigilance in checking their email. (This spawned the “CHECK YOU EMAILS” meme in ATL comments, from a typo in his email’s subject line.)

So who prevailed? Make your guess, then learn the identity of the 2009 honoree, after the jump.

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sonia sotomayor above the law.jpgThe most recent New Yorker features a profile of the newest resident of the High Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Given the tone of the piece, you might think One First Street is turning into Melrose Place. Journalist Lauren Collins describes Sotomayor as “the first celebrity Justice”: a “diabetic, a divorcée, a dental-bill debtor, a person who, the night before her investiture ceremony, belted out “We Are Family” in a karaoke bar at a Red Roof Inn.”
The profile covers some familiar territory, highlighting attacks on Sotomayor’s intellect during the confirmation process and indignation over her aggressive questioning during oral arguments since taking a seat on the High bench.
Overall, though, it’s more favorable in tone than the profile of John Roberts in the magazine last year. As the WSJ Law Blog notes, Sotomayor comes across as “eminently personable” and as a “stickler for preparation.”
Tina Brown of the Daily Beast, a former editor of the New Yorker, is a bit more graphic in her reaction to the piece for NPR:

Brown says the justice comes across as an “up-from-the-bootstraps woman who loves to bust out a poker game and knock back a scotch.” But, Brown adds, she also comes across as meticulous, rigorous and heavily influenced by her mother, a nurse, who emphasized education above all else…
“Sotomayor is not a great prose styler, not a fancy-flourish merchant,” says Brown. “She’s not a person who’s going to reinvent the philosophical approach to law, but she does believe that the law is to be understood by the common man in the street. And I think that there’s a lot to be said for that, actually.”

We concur with Brown’s ruling on the piece. We’ve excerpted our favorite anecdote from the profile after the jump. Clerking for Sotomayor sounds fun….

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