Diarmuid O’Scannlain

Let’s play a quick game (which we might return to later if there’s interest). If we were to give out awards to the different federal judicial circuits, in the manner of a high school yearbook, which awards would go to the different circuits? Here are some of my nominations:

(Article III groupies: Feel free to suggest others, in the comments.)

As for the other awards, well, they’d all go to the Ninth Circuit. It’s the nation’s most famous (or infamous) federal appeals court, so it would win “Most Likely To Become A Celebrity.” It’s the biggest, so it would win “Most Popular” (especially among the ACS and ACLU crowd). It would win “Most Athletic,” since it includes California. And it would win “Biggest Flirt,” thanks to its numerous superhottie judges. (Don’t you wish they all could be California jurists?)

The Ninth Circuit would also run away with “Most Likely To Be Made Fun of on YouTube” — since it already has been. How many circuit courts can claim that distinction?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How the Ninth Circuit Stole Christmas”

Law clerks aren't jumping for joy these days, especially when it comes to pay.

I spent last weekend in Portland, Oregon, where I attended the 25th judicial anniversary celebration and law clerk reunion of my former boss, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the Ninth Circuit. It was a warm and wonderful occasion, a chance to reconnect with old friends and to catch up with the O’Scannlains (Judge and Mrs. O’Scannlain were joined by all eight of their children for the festivities). Former clerks shared happy memories from their time in PDX clerking for DFO.

Most former law clerks I meet — mainly law clerks to federal judges, whether Article III or magistrate or bankruptcy — recall their clerkships fondly. They praise the excellent experience, the clerkly camaraderie, and the training and mentoring they received from their judges (for the most part; a few describe judicial clerkships from hell).

It struck me as strange, then, that “law clerk” recently came in at #7 on CNBC’s list of 10 Most Hated Jobs. I can’t help wondering whether courthouse administrative personnel with the title of “clerk” were somehow mixed in with federal judicial law clerks. The median salary of $39,780 a year suggests that this might be the case, since federal law clerks (and many state law clerks) make more than $40K these days.

Then again, people don’t clerk for the money. Sure, clerkship bonuses, especially Supreme Court clerkship bonuses, can be considerable — but in most cases, a graduate who goes straight into a law firm will do better financially than her classmate who clerks after graduation.

If you’re planning to clerk or interested in clerking for a federal judge, you should be aware of the latest news about law clerk compensation….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Federal Law Clerks: No Pay Raise for You!”

In our most recent Grammer Pole of the Weak, over two-thirds of you voted against the use of gender-neutral language, opting instead for the historic use of “he,” “him,” and “his” to cover both sexes. In the poll before that one, over 80 percent of you voted in favor of the serial comma. These results suggest that Above the Law readers are traditionalists in matters of grammar, usage, and writing style.

But back in August, 60 percent of you said that you are all right with “alright.” So perhaps ATL readers are open to the evolution of the English language and the creation of new words.

How do y’all feel about neologisms? Let’s look at two new words, coined by none other than the newly svelte Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Grammer Pole of the Weak: ‘I Respectfully Dissental’”

July has arrived. At law firms, partners leave early on Friday, so they can beat the traffic out to the Hamptons (or the Eastern Shore, or the Cape).

At the Hollister store across the street from the Above the Law offices, hot shirtless men stand outside, trying to lure shoppers into the darkened, heavily perfumed, previously bedbug-ridden space. At 7-11 stores, they are giving away 7.11-ounce Slurpees (because today is 7-11 — geddit?).

And at One First Street, home of the Supreme Court of the United States (aka “SCOTUS”), clerk classes are transitioning. July is when outgoing Supreme Court clerks leave the marble palace — do pass go, do collect a $250,000 signing bonus — and their replacements arrive. The arrivals and departures are staggered over the entire month, so the departing clerks can train the newest members of the Elect.

July is a good time for an update on Supreme Court law clerk hiring. Let’s have a look….

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There’s always something fun going on in the Ninth Circuit. Last week, the Court voted against rehearing en banc in United States v. Alvarez, a case raising the constitutionality of the Stolen Valor Act (a law that essentially criminalizes false claims of military heroism). A divided three-judge panel struck down the Act on First Amendment grounds, and the Ninth Circuit voted against reconsidering that decision en banc.

Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (disclosure: my former boss) wrote a spirited and persuasive dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc, on behalf of himself and six other judges. The dissenters argued that the Act passes constitutional muster and that the First Amendment does not protect knowingly false statements of fact (subject to certain exceptions not presented by the law). The position that the Stolen Valor Act is constitutional is shared by a number of prominent scholars, including First Amendment guru Eugene Volokh.

But this is far from an open-and-shut case (unlike many of the Ninth Circuit cases that generate dissents from denial of rehearing, which we’ve previously described as the “Bat Signal” flashed by right-of-center Ninth Circuit judges to the Supreme Court when the lefties run amok). On the other side of the Alvarez case was Chief Judge Alex Kozinski — Professor Volokh’s former boss, and a jurist who, like Judge O’Scannlain, is often vindicated by SCOTUS smackdowns of Ninth Circuit liberals.

(Digression: I don’t like it when two of my most favorite federal judges cross swords! It’s like watching a fight between My Two Dads. I’d much rather see the two of them join forces against the Emperor Palpatine and She Who Must Not Be Named.)

Chief Judge Kozinski wrote a rather colorful concurrence to the denial of rehearing en banc. Some hilarious highlights from it, plus a fun movie-related tidbit from His Honor, after the jump.

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And just like that, it’s December. Flurries fill the sky, Wham’s “Last Christmas” saturates the airwaves, and the list of weddings in the New York Times shortens dramatically. Quality tends to decline along with quantity, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised to find plenty of comment-worthy nuptials (and attractive brides!) over the past couple of weeks.

Here are the three weddings that most caught caught our eye:

Elizabeth Kronick and Michael Kleinman

Alexandra Endelson and Michael Bassik

Lucy Martinez and James Sullivan Jr.

Check out these couples’ pictures and write-ups, including one jaw-dropping wedding registry — plus a list of all the recent legal eagle weddings — after the jump.

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“Okay, Judge Bork. Smile and say ‘The Original Understanding’!!!”

(Also: Is that Harvard Law prof Laurence Tribe standing behind Robert Bork, or just someone who looks a lot like him?)

Earlier this week, we gave you a detailed report about the fabulous nuptials of Ted Olson — the winning lawyer in Bush v. Gore, former Solicitor General, and current Gibson Dunn partner — and his beautiful and brilliant bride, Lady Booth.* The Olson wedding was attended by the crème de la crème of D.C. and conservative legal circles.

Now we have an update to our prior coverage, an ATL exclusive: WEDDING PICTURES!!! And they’re not boring, like the ones your college roommate makes you look at every time you visit her house. Did Justice Sandra Day O’Connor attend your college roommate’s wedding?

Check out the pics — there are just a few of them, it won’t take you long — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lady and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Wedding Photos That Rock”

David Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law. He also founded Underneath Their Robes, a blog about federal judges, and served as editor of the politics blog Wonkette. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New York Observer, Washingtonian magazine, and New York magazine, among other publications. David has received several awards for his work on Above the Law, including recognition as an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, a group of innovators within the legal profession, and inclusion as a member of the Fastcase 50, “the fifty most interesting, provocative, and courageous leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology.”

Prior to his entry into the media world, David worked as a federal prosecutor in Newark, New Jersey; a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, in New York; and a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

David graduated from Regis High School, Harvard College, and Yale Law School, where he served as book reviews editor of the Yale Law Journal. You can find David on Facebook and on Twitter, and you can reach him by email at [email protected].

How Gossip Transformed the Legal Industry [Details]
SCOTUS Watch [New Yorker]
He Fought the Law. They Both Won. [New York Times]
David Lat Takes on the Legal World One Post at a Time [Legal Times (sub. req.)]

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