Supreme Court Clerks

Probably not, ’cause that’s Westlaw. H. Donald Wilson, who passed away earlier this month, was the founder of Lexis-Nexis. Fittingly enough for a man responsible for placing thousands of lawyers in front of their computer screens, for thousands of hours a year, Wilson died in front of his computer.
An interesting tidbit from the New York Times obituary:

A turning point for the acceptance of Lexis came in the early 1970s, when Mr. Wilson arranged for a skeptical audience at the Supreme Court to use the new system. The Lexis system found more cases than the court clerks found by using manual research methods.

Supreme Court clerks back in the seventies weren’t as good as the ones around today. Current SCOTUS clerks don’t need Lexis and Westlaw. They just commit all the cases to memory, down to the page numbers (a la David Boies).
The cause of death was a heart attack — and we can empathize. Finding out that your key precedent just got overruled can be a pretty jarring experience.
Everyone who has ever used Lexis-Nexis for legal research owes Wilson a debt of gratitude. May he rest in peace.
Donald Wilson, 82, Pioneer of a Database, Dies [New York Times]
H. Donald Wilson, 82; Developed LexisNexis [Washington Post]
Founder of LexisNexis Dies in Front of His Computer [TaxProf Blog]

We previously provided you with our photographic coverage of the Federalist Society’s annual dinner, held last Thursday at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. Now we offer a short (and admittedly belated) write-up of the proceedings.
For more systematic accounts of the dinner, check out the news links collected at the end of this post. For our more idiosyncratic reflections, read on — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From the Belly of the Beast: An Evening With Scalito (Part 1)”

John G Roberts Chief Justice John Roberts Above the Law ATL ATL.JPGWe’d pay a king’s ransom for an update of the music video for “Miami.” Instead of showing Will Smith frolicking with bikini-clad beauties, the new version would feature Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, shaking their bon-bons with surgically-enhanced sirens.
If this sounds unlikely, consider: Winter is still weeks away, but Supreme Court justices are already flocking to Miami.
Late last month, Justice Samuel A. Alito paid a visit, to swear in his former clerk, Alex Acosta, as U.S. Attorney. And just last night, Chief Justice John G. Roberts made an appearance, addressing an audience of 3,000 at the University of Miami. He also participated in an interview with Jan Crawford Greenburg of ABC News.
Accounts of the Chief’s visit are available from the Miami Herald, ABC News, and our pals at PrawfsBlawg (here and here). We’ve read ‘em all, so you don’t have to — although we do commend them to you, since they’re quite interesting.
Chief Justice Roberts spoke at length about how judges should not rule based on their “personal policy preferences,” and he expressed support for the separation of powers. Quelle surprise.
But he did share some more fun tidbits as well. Highlights from the write-ups, along with our commentary, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Justices: “They’re Going to Miami””

Antonin Scalia Justice Antonin Scalia Justice Scalia Above the Law Legal Gossip Blog.JPGLast Thursday, Justice Antonin Scalia spoke before the Yale Political Union (an appearance we discussed here). And on Friday morning, Justice Scalia made an appearance at (the) Yale Law School.
Justice Scalia was introduced by his former clerk, the beautiful and brilliant Professor Christine Jolls. This past June, Professor Jolls was lured away from Harvard Law School by Yale, causing the HLS faculty “hotness quotient” to plummet. Professor Jolls, for the record, is less conservative than her former boss; during her clerkship with Justice Scalia, she was the designated “counterclerk” (see comments to this post).
An excellent account of Justice Scalia’s appearance at YLS is provided by Vivek Krishnamurthy. It’s commendably detailed, insightful, and witty. You can check it out here (via How Appealing).
A few excerpts, with our commentary, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Eyes of the Law: Did Poor Justice Scalia Have to Spend the Night in New Haven?”

supreme court with heart above the law atl.JPGNormally we might think twice about posting an e-mail like this, since it’s somewhat personal in nature. But it has been making its way around the D.C. law firm email circuit, and we’ve received it from multiple sources.
By now, dozens of Biglaw associates in Washington have a copy of this email in their inbox. If we don’t post it, some other blogger will. This message has been read by hundreds of people. So what’s a few more thousand?
The author of the e-mail, we’re told, is a current Supreme Court clerk. Here it is:

Hey guys,

I have a short, quasi-junior-highish, but sincere and meaningful request.

A [student from a top law school] named [X] is interviewing at your firm. It would take too long to explain the full story, but the short of it is this: she and I have become fairly close in the last couple of months. I would like to date her. She has a long-term, long-distance boyfriend that she is not totally into. She has expressed interest in me, but she’s not able to break things off in her current relationship. I am willing to be patient because I think she’s really amazing.

Now to the junior-highish but sincere request. If you end up interviewing her or taking her to lunch, please please please, in the very unlikely event that the opportunity arises and it’s not contrived, say really great things about me. [Ed. note: Emphasis added.]

That’s all. I can’t imagine the opportunity would arise, and I won’t be so presumptuous to think that somehow my name would ever come up (I gave her a tour of the Court, so if she mentions that, maybe there’s an opportunity…), but in the very slight chance that it does, I would really appreciate any glowing review you could provide on my behalf.

Specific positive attributes available upon request. Yeah, I know this is pathetic, but those of us still in the single world need all the help we can get — you remember what it was like. Thank you so much.

Supreme Court Clerks: They’re just like us. Sometimes they get lonely, even desperate. And when they do, they enlist their friends — and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends, and the readers of a popular legal gossip site — in the effort to win over the object of their affection.
We have some advice for the young lady in question. If you read this post, and figure out that you’re the subject, please: Throw the long-term boyfriend overboard, and go with the SCOTUS clerk.
This is a no-brainer, honey. First, he’s a Supreme Court clerk. Second, he’s going to be $200,000 richer in a year. Third, given the extent to which he’s willing to embarrass himself in pursuing your affections, he is clearly VERY into you.
And did we mention that he’s a Supreme Court clerk? What more could a girl ask for?
(We were not an original recipient of this message — we received it as the inevitable email forward — so we can’t vouch for its authenticity. Nor can we tell you the names of the individuals involved. But we found it somewhat amusing, assuming that it’s true, so we thought we’d put it up here — and save everyone the trouble of continued email forwarding.)

sorry we're closed sign above the law.gifSupreme Court clerks, aka “the Elect,” are gods and goddesses of the legal profession. But as our latest interview horror story shows, they aren’t perfect — at least not all the time. Sometimes SCOTUS clerks let their lofty status go to their heads, treating the Great Unwashed like “the little people.”*
Check out our latest law firm interview war story:

Setting: Very mid-size city in a flyover state.
Firm: Litigation boutique where two members of the “Elect” worked.

Interviewee shows up for his interview and is forced to wait. His interview is with a name partner of the firm, a member of the Elect.

After waiting fifteen minutes or so for the partner to show up, his secretary escorts the interviewee into the partner’s office, where he’s finishing a call. As the secretary brings the interviewee in to sit, she also hands the partner his mail.

After a minute or two, the partner ends the call. The interviewee has been sitting there quietly the whole time, completely unacknowledged by the partner.

The partner then picks up his mail and starts going through it, while the interviewee sits there. The partner still has not said a word to the interviewee.

After several more minutes of the silent treatment, the interviewee finally gets up and leaves. At the reception desk, the interviewee is asked where he is going. His response, as he walks out the door: “I have seen everything I need to see to know about whether I want to work here.”

* If Leona Helmsley had clerked on the Supreme Court, her famous phrase would have been: “Only the little people don’t get $200,000 signing bonuses.”
Earlier: Prior Interview Horror Stories (scroll down)

supreme court 1.jpgIf you’re wondering where your favorite October Term 2005 Supreme Court clerk wound up — like, for example, this Kathryn Judge groupie — the National Law Journal has the answers. Check out this juicy article (free access):

Latham & Watkins is the “in” spot this year for recent U.S. Supreme Court clerks leaving the rarified atmosphere of the highest court in the land for the hands-on practice of law.

The firm, home to more than 1,900 attorneys in 22 offices in the United States and abroad, hired six clerks from the October 2005 term — the largest number of hires from a single term by a single law firm in recent years.

Here are the six Lathamites:

Three of the six clerks hired by Latham are going to Washington: Lori Alvino (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), Dan Kearney (Roberts) and Jeff Pojanowski (Anthony M. Kennedy). Two are going to San Francisco: [Benjamin] Horwich (O’Connor / Alito) and Kathryn Judge (Stephen G. Breyer). And Dan Lenerz (John Paul Stevens) is going to San Diego.

As any owner of an NBA team can tell you, talent doesn’t come cheap. You could buy a nice house with the bonus money bestowed upon those six clerks:

[Latham partner] Richard Bress said that his firm paid the market-level hiring bonus for U.S. Supreme Court clerks — about $200,000 [per clerk] — and considers the money well spent. “We’ve found they can come in and immediately operate at a very high level,” said Bress.

High enough to earn out that bonus, plus the standard six-figure salary paid to an associate of the relevant seniority level? We have our doubts.
But let’s not look at this through an economic lens. The ability to boast of having a SCOTUS clerk at your firm — plus, of course, the ability to boss around said SCOTUS clerk — is priceless.*
(We recommend the full NLJ article to you. It also reports on clerks who have gone to other firms, legal academia, and government posts.)
* Of course, you can’t really abuse that power too much. If you force Supreme Court clerks to sully their hands with, say, document review, they may spread the word among the Elect that you’re a horrible place to work — and you’ll never bag another SCOTUS clerk again.
Latham is the ‘in’ spot for high court clerks [National Law Journal]

samuel alito jr samuel a alito jr justice alito.jpgWe haven’t forgotten about our pledge to profile the current class of Supreme Court clerks (for October Term 2006). As previously explained, we’ll start with the clerks to the most junior justice, Samuel Alito.
Here’s the rub. We don’t quite have enough information — in terms of interesting tidbits, fun facts, or amusing anecdotes — to profile the current Alito clerks. For your reference, they are:

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

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

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

4. Gordon D. Todd (UVA ’00/Beam)

We have more than enough information to profile Christopher Paolella, Matthew Schwartz, and Gordon Todd. But information about Michael Lee, son of former U.S. Solicitor General Rex Lee, is proving more elusive.
(Yes, we are aware of this news article about him. But we’re looking for more color, less résumé data.)
Do you have data about Mike Lee that you might be willing to share? Please contact us by email. And, of course, we’re still accepting tips about Chris Paolella, Matt Schwartz, and Gordon Todd — so feel free to send those along as well.
Once we have enough info about Mr. Lee, we’ll issue our group profile of the OT 2006 Alito clerks. Thanks!
Earlier: Justice Alito’s Clerks: Tidbits, Please
A Law Clerk Hiring Update: Alito’s Kids [UTR]michael lee mike lee christopher paolella chris paolella matthew schwartz matt schwartz gordon todd.JPG

passport united states passport.jpgWe realize we’re late on this, since the news broke on Friday. But at the time, we thought Purcell v. Gonzalez was just a run-of-the-mill Supreme Court ruling. We didn’t realize it featured delicious benchslaps of the Ninth Circuit, the lower court whose decision was vacated.
The state of Arizona adopted a rule for next month’s elections requiring most voters to show photo identification before casting their ballots. Such rules, adopted by other states as well, are generally supported by Republicans — who view them as helping to cut down on voter fraud — and opposed by Democrats — who believe they may deter poor, elderly, disabled or minority voters from voting.
A legal challenge to the picture ID rule was mounted in Arizona. Some background about the case, from the L.A. Times:

In May, the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters and several other civil rights groups sued to block the voter identification rule from being enforced Nov. 7. They called the rule a “21st century poll tax” because it could force some poor voters to purchase photo ID cards….

A federal judge refused to block the law from taking effect, but on Oct. 5, a two-judge panel of the 9th Circuit issued an order saying the law could not be enforced for the upcoming election. The appeals court did not explain its ruling.

Arizona’s attorney general asked the Supreme Court to intervene. And on Friday afternoon, the high court issued a six-page opinion that set aside the 9th Circuit’s order. It noted that the 9th Circuit’s “bare order” did not give a good reason for blocking the law from taking effect.

That’s a charitable description of the Supreme Court’s treatment of the Ninth Circuit. Here’s an excerpt from the opinion itself:

On October 5, after receiving lengthy written responses from the State and the county officials but without oral argument, the panel issued a four-sentence order enjoining Arizona from enforcing Proposition 200’s provisions…. The Court of Appeals offered no explanation or justification for its order. Four days later, the court denied a motion for reconsideration. The order denying the motion likewise gave no rationale for the court’s decision.

Translation: “Despite receiving oodles and oodles of briefing from state and county officials, the Ninth Circuit stopped Arizona from enforcing its rule — without even bothering to give the state its day in court. Then, when asked to rethink their decision, those Ninth Circuit morons just said ‘NO’ — again without bothering to explain themselves.”
The discussion continues, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Benchslapped: The Arizona Voter ID Ruling”

samuel alito jr samuel a alito jr justice alito.jpgReaders, thanks for the reminder. It’s time for us to start up our series of profiles of this year’s crop of Supreme Court clerks (the October Term 2006 law clerks, currently clerking at the Court).
We’ll still go chambers by chambers, as we did before. But this time we’ll start with the most junior justice, and work our way up the ladder. So we’ll start by profiling Justice Samuel Alito’s clerks, then move through the justices by seniority, concluding with Chief Justice John Roberts’s clerks.
To prepare these profiles of the Elect, we’ll need your help. Please send us interesting tidbits, fun facts, or amusing anecdotes about the current SCOTUS clerks that you know. We’ll start with the Alito clerks:

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

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

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

4. Gordon D. Todd (UVA ’00/Beam)

Would you happen to know one of these fine gents and have some information to share about them? Please contact us by email. Please be sure to include the clerk’s full name somewhere in your message, preferably in the subject line (because we often locate messages relevant to writing a specific post by running searches for specific terms in our inbox). Thanks!
A Law Clerk Hiring Update: Alito’s Kids [UTR]michael lee mike lee christopher paolella chris paolella matthew schwartz matt schwartz gordon todd.JPG

Page 19 of 221...1516171819202122