Supreme Court Clerks

television TV show shows Supreme Courtships.jpgDo any of you remember The Court or First Monday? If not, we don’t blame you.
These shows were two very short-lived television dramas about the U.S. Supreme Court. They focused on the weighty issues presented to the Court, as well as the interpersonal relationships between the justices and the law clerks.
Judicial groupies were thrilled to see two shows about the Court on national television (despite the many inaccuracies and ridiculous plot lines). But their joy was fleeting.
“The Court” and “First Monday” crashed and burned, and both were canceled before finishing a single season. While they were popular with Supreme Court clerks that Term, who would get together for weekly viewings in each other’s apartments, a viewership of 36 isn’t enough to sustain a TV show.
Undeterred by the failure of these ventures, Hollywood is placing another bet on One First Street. From the Hollywood Reporter:

A headstrong female defense attorney, Supreme Court clerks and hospital nurses are at the center of three one-hour pilots that have been given the green light by Fox….

Supreme Courtships, from 20th Century Fox TV and Adelstein Prods., is a comedic drama about the personal and professional lives of six Supreme Court clerks and their supervisors.

Gary Tieche (ABC’s “MDs”) wrote the script and is executive producing with Marty Adelstein and Michael Thorn.

We hope that “Supreme Courtships” takes off; we really do. We adore Supreme Court clerks and everything about them. We worship the ground they walk upon, and we follow their triumphs as closely as Page Six follows Lindsay Lohan’s misadventures.
But we don’t think we are the typical television viewer. And we have serious doubts as to whether this show will connect with an audience.
A book project focused on the courts and on law clerks, a la the forthcoming Chambermaid by Saira Rao, is something that can succeed. Readers of books are more high-minded and culturally sophisticated than viewers of television; TV is called “the boob tube” for a reason. Also, it’s much easier to employ a niche marketing strategy when selling books.
But television is much more mass-market than book publishing. The demographics are different, and the appeal needs to be broad. And we fear that the fabulosity of Supreme Court law clerks will be lost upon the typical TV viewer. To the contrary, the typical TV viewer may be more like the party guest in this anecdote (a true story):

A law clerk to Justice Kennedy attends a party in New York. He starts chatting with another guest, and the inevitable “So what do you do?” question surfaces. The law clerk identifies himself as a clerk to Justice Kennedy.

Almost immediately, the other party guest tries to escape excuses himself, saying he needs to “refill his drink.” As he leaves, he tells the AMK clerk: “Good luck with your clerical work!”

Fox Gives a Go to Three Dramas [Variety via How Appealing]
Fox rules for trio of hour pilots [Hollywood Reporter via How Appealing]
The Court [IMDb]
First Monday [IMDb]

Harriet Miers Harriet E Miers Harriet Ellan Miers Harriet Elan Miers Above the Law.JPGPresident 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Will Fill Harriet Miers’s Size Six Shoes?”

musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFSome other noteworthy moves within the legal profession (besides Chief Judge David Levi’s selection as Dean of Duke Law School):
Within government:
* This is big news: the new Attorney General for New York, Andrew Cuomo, has hired Barbara D. Underwood as his solicitor general.
Underwood has a resume to die for. She has served as counsel to Eastern District U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf, as chief assistant U.S. Attorney in the E.D.N.Y., and as principal deputy solicitor general over at the Justice Department (under President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno).
Surprise surprise: Barbara Underwood is among the Elect (OT 1970/Marshall). We hear that she beat out other former Supreme Court clerks to win the New York SG job.
The fact that so many high-powered people were vying for the gig shows that state solicitor general posts are acquiring more and more cachet. Being an ex-SCOTUS clerk is rapidly becoming a requirement for these jobs. E.g., Ted Cruz in Texas (OT 1996/Rehnquist); Kevin Newsom in Alabama (OT 2000/Souter).
The rest of today’s transitions, plus links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: 01.03.07″

David Levi David F Levi Judge Dean Duke Above the Law.jpgBig news for both the federal bench and legal academia: Chief Judge David F. Levi, of the Eastern District of California, has been picked as the next dean of Duke Law School.
If approved by the trustees, Levi will replace Dean Katharine Bartlett on July 1. Here’s the official press release.*
Chief Judge David Levi is one of the most highly-regarded district judges in the entire federal judiciary — and this should come as no surprise, given his pedigree. The 55-year-old judge is a Harvard College and Stanford Law grad, former Ninth Circuit clerk, and member of the Elect (OT 1982/Powell).
Legal genius runs in the Levi family. David Levi is the son of the late Edward Levi, former Attorney General under President Ford (and recently in the news in the wake of President Ford’s passing; he recommended Justice Stevens for the SCOTUS). As the WSJ Law Blog points out, David Levi’s older brother is also a high-powered lawyer: John Levi, a partner at Sidley & Austin.
When we clerked on the Ninth Circuit, we worked on an appeal from a decision of then-Judge Levi (he became Chief Judge in 2003). It was a bizarre an interesting case involving a transsexual ex-prison inmate, one Torey Tuesday South, who filed a civil action against California prison officials. She alleged that the officials improperly cut off her sex hormones (which she had been taking since she was a teenage boy). The officials asserted qualified immunity.
The record on appeal was really weird highly unusual. It included quasi-soft-porn photographs of Torey Tuesday South in various unusual positions, designed to showcase certain parts of her anatomy. It also included materials that gave us a crash course in gender dysphoria.
We’ll spare you the details; if you’re curious, you can look up the decision on Westlaw. In the end, Chief Judge Levi’s decision to allow the case to move forward was affirmed. The factual findings and legal reasoning he provided in support of his ruling were impeccable.
In his new role as dean of Duke Law School, David Levi will surely grapple once again with issues of transsexuality. But the questions presented will be less thorny. For example: Can transexuals use both the male and female bathrooms in the law school (as they can in the New York subway)?
The Duke deanship is an exciting new opportunity for one of our nation’s most distinguished jurists. Congratulations, Your Honor!
Food for thought: Professor Orin Kerr wonders: Is Chief Judge Levi, regarded by both liberals and conservatives as a fair and thoughtful jurist, the kind of Supreme Court nominee who could win over Democratic senators?
David Levi is only 55 years old. He’s a moderate conservative with 16 years of judicial experience, as well as a civil procedure guru. Now he’s adding another feather to his cap: the deanship of a prestigious law school. If he steers clear of controversy as dean, he’s certainly a SCOTUS possibility.
* From the Duke alum who sent us the press release: “I can speak for many of my fellow Duke Law alums when I say good riddance to the former dean, Kate Bartlett.”
Update: Some Duke alumni dissent from this assessment of Dean Bartlett. For further discussion, see the comments.
Federal Judge David F. Levi selected as Dean of Duke Law School [Duke Law School]
Duke Law School Selects Judge David Levi as Dean [WSJ Law Blog]
Wonderful news for Duke Law School, but a sad loss of a very talented judge [How Appealing]
David F. Levi bio [FJC]
Ex-Inmate’s Suit Advances [Sacramento Bee]
Transsexual inmate mistreated, court says [Sacramento Bee]
More on 100-0 Nominees [Volokh Conspiracy]

kwanzaa happy kwanzaa kwanza candles.gifThe week before a major holiday is usually pretty slow. And the Friday before the holiday weekend is usually dead — the perfect time for Mike Nifong to announce he’s dropping the rape charges against the Duke lacrosse team defendants.
Other highlights from the past week in legal news and ATL:
* Get to know this year’s Alito clerks!
* And help us get to know the current Breyer clerks.
* Dean Harold Koh’s Christmas gift to Yale Law School conservatives: newfound warmth and friendliness.
* Speaking of Yale Law School, YLS grad Yul Kwon just won Survivor. Congrats, Yul!
* Stuff you knew already: Supreme Court clerks are cooler than you. Lawyers have mediocre sex lives. Pro se litigants are insane.
* Last week dragged in a few more law firm bonus announcements, but nothing exciting. To skim the coverage, click here, then scroll down through the headlines.
* On the subject of bonuses, Biglaw associates: Please take our 2006 bonus poll (first announced here):

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Whatcha doin’ for New Year’s? Unless your plans include the words “Diddy” and “yacht,” they’re not as fabulous as this fête:
tim wu evite supreme court clerks the elect.JPG

Some explanation is in order. This party is being brought to you by one of America’s brightest legal minds: celebrity law professor Tim Wu, of Columbia Law School. (We don’t know who this “Sue” character is.)

If you haven’t read ATL’s fawning past coverage of Professor Wu, here’s one detail that says it all: Richard Posner calls him “the Genius Wu.” Need we say more?

The invite list is equally spectacular. It includes these legal luminaries:

(1) Noah Feldman, the hottie-cum-public-intellectual that Harvard just lured away from NYU;

(2) Kermit Roosevelt, the hottie-cum-law-professor-cum-novelist (yes, descended from THOSE Roosevelts); and

(3) Tali Farhadian, the hottie-cum-hottie-cum-hottie.

Memorably described as a “lush Persian beauty,” Farhadian belongs on a Milan runway, a top-five law school faculty, or both.

All of these celebs — like their host, Tim Wu (Breyer/OT 1999) — are members of the Elect. Professors Feldman and Roosevelt clerked for Justice Souter (in October Terms 1998 and 1999, respectively). Farhadian clerked for Justice O’Connor (in October Term 2004).

But Feldman, Roosevelt and Farhadian, in all of their blinding brightness, might be eclipsed if a single invitee makes an appearance at the festivities.

Yes, that’s right. Also on “The List”: AQUAGIRL!!!

Allow us to paraphrase JFK’s famous words about Thomas Jefferson:

“I think this will be the most extraordinary collection of young legal celebrity and fabulosity that has ever been gathered together at a party — with the possible exception of when Aquagirl swam alone.”

Earlier: An Update on Aquagirl: Things Are Going Swimmingly
Wherein We Receive An Email from Celebrity Law Prof Tim Wu
Musical Chairs: Professor Noah Feldman Is Leaving NYU for Harvard!

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”

stack of bills cash money.jpgAs was the case last night, we must take leave of our computer for a little while. (Our plans involve members of the Elect, so this is an excused absence.)
There has been some bonus news today (Paul Weiss), even if not as much as yesterday (Cravath and Cadwalader). But the day isn’t over yet, and more news might break later this afternoon or evening.
Same drill as before. If any interesting bonus news surfaces while we’re gone, please mention it in the comments to this post (and include a link to your source — e.g., Infirmation, Greedy Associates,
We’ll look into any such tips after we return. Thank you in advance for your help.
Finally, if you’re looking for amusement or distraction while we’re gone, check out our comprehensive collection of fun or interesting links, gathered from all around the blawgosphere. After clicking through and reading all of these posts, you’ll be completely caught up on two weeks’ worth of legal blogging!
Earlier: Supplemental Non-Sequiturs: 12.12.06

viet dinh.jpgRemember Professor Viet Dinh? If not, here’s what we previously wrote about him:

Dinh represents venture capitalist god Thomas Perkins, in Perkins’s (rather tense) dealings with HP’s board and lawyers [concerning the HP spying controversy].

Dinh, for those of you visiting from other planets, is one of the highest-flying legal eagles in the country. He’s a former high-ranking official at the Justice Department, current professor at Georgetown Law, and former Supreme Court clerk (to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor).

The American Lawyer recently published an interesting article about the HP controversy and the troubles it has caused for Larry Sonsini, one of Silicon Valley’s top lawyers. We haven’t had the chance to read it closely; but one of you highlighted this little tidbit:

Over a Washington, D.C., lunch in which Dinh quickly downed three glasses of wine, three orders of oysters and a seafood gumbo, the former government lawyer recalled he was startled when [Thomas] Perkins first told him about the leaks investigation.

Well! It seems that the super-cuddly professor has quite an appetite.
Perhaps Professor Dinh is still haunted by his childhood as a refugee from war-torn Vietnam? Relax, Viet — everything is all right. You are a millionaire, and you don’t need to worry about where your next meal is coming from. (And if you run out of food late one night, you can always eat the prestige of that SCOTUS clerkship.)
Our question to Professor Dinh: Given your voracious appetite, how do you stay so slim?
Where Will the Troubles End for Sonsini and HP? [The American Lawyer]
Hewlett-Packard Lawyer Dinh Gives Washington the ‘Viet-Spin’ [New York Observer]
Earlier: Viet Dinh: Still As Cuddly As Ever

Noah Feldman Noah R Feldman Jeannie Suk Jeannie C Suk Above the Law.JPGProfessor Noah Feldman — the brilliant, gorgeous, legal academic superstar / public intellectual — is abandoning NYU Law School (its student body hotness notwithstanding). He’s heading up to Harvard Law School, where his similarly beautiful and brainy wife, Jeannie Suk, is already on the faculty.
(Most readers of ATL are probably familiar with this celebrity couple. But if you’re not — if you don’t know about their Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, their D.C. Circuit and Supreme Court clerkships, their multiple published books, and their storybook-perfect life — we refer you to The Latest Triumphs of the Elect: It’s Good to Be Noah and Jeannie!)
From what we’ve heard, Noah Feldman’s move was a long time in coming. HLS apparently made an offer to him quite some time ago. The rumor that he might be decamping for Cambridge was circulating in legal academia for a while.
Noah Feldman Professor Noah Feldman Above the law.jpgAlthough the move makes sense, Professor Feldman had good reason to think carefully before leaving Gotham. NYU tried very, very hard to keep him. And here are three considerations that probably crossed his mind:
First, he has strong ties to the NYU law school community. It has been his academic home for the past few years, which have been very good to him, and he is worshiped around campus by students (who surround him like groupies to a rock star).
Second, being based in New York, the media capital of the country, was great for his career as a public intellectual. It facilitated his frequent contributions to the New York Times (both the magazine and the op-ed page), his regular appearances on major talk shows, and his efforts on the book publishing front (three books and counting).
Third, and perhaps most importantly, he and Jeannie have a FABULOUS apartment in the heart of Greenwich Village. And as every New Yorker knows, a good piece of real estate is very hard to find.
At the end of the day, though, Harvard Law School is still Harvard Law School. And when your wife is already on the faculty up there, it’s kinda hard to say no when HLS’s hot dean comes calling.
Congratulations, Professor Feldman, on your new post and the big move!
Noah Feldman to join Harvard Law faculty [Harvard Law School]
The Latest Triumphs of the Elect: It’s Good to Be Noah and Jeannie! [UTR]
Most Beautiful Brainiac: Noah Feldman [New York magazine]
Noah Feldman bio [New York University Law School]
Jeannie Suk bio [Harvard Law School]

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