Eric H. Jaso

Chris Christie during his U.S. Attorney days.

I almost got fired by Chris Christie. Almost, but not quite.

From June 2004 until November 2005, while working for then-U.S. Attorney Christie in my home state of New Jersey, I maintained a deliciously dishy blog about federal judges called Underneath Their Robes, offering “news, gossip, and colorful commentary about the federal judiciary.” Because I realized that appearing before judges by day and gossiping about them by night could be problematic, I wrote under a pseudonym, pretending to be a woman and calling myself Article III Groupie aka A3G.

In November 2005 — for reasons that I won’t go into here, but that I’m happy to explain at speaking engagements — I revealed myself as A3G in a New Yorker interview with Jeffrey Toobin. The news that one of his prosecutors was writing an irreverent blog about federal judges, including some judges his office appeared before, caused much aggravation for Chris Christie.

The New Yorker piece appeared on a Monday. A few days later, on Friday — after the scandal had made the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and even the Drudge Report — I got called up to the big man’s office on the seventh floor of 970 Broad Street….

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Last week, I headed downtown to meet with Stephen A. Weiss and Eric Jaso, partners at the Seeger Weiss litigation boutique. Weiss co-founded the firm with Christopher Seeger in 1999. Jaso, who just joined the firm from Stone & Magnanini, is a friend and former colleague of mine from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They kindly agreed to be interviewed about what it’s like to work at an elite, plaintiff-side litigation firm.

Here at Above the Law, we’ve always had strong coverage of the large, defense-oriented firms that collectively constitute Biglaw. In the past few years, however, we have dramatically expanded our offerings related to smaller law firms. We currently have three columnists — Brian Tannebaum, Tom Wallerstein, and Valerie Katz — writing in this space, in addition to the small-firm coverage generated by our other writers.

Consistent with this editorial expansion, I was eager to meet with Weiss and Jaso and hear about Seeger Weiss (which is relatively large for a plaintiffs’ firm, but small compared to a Biglaw firm). I’ve always wondered why more law school graduates don’t go into plaintiffs’ work and why we don’t hear about this side of practice as much. It can represent a chance to do well while also doing good, by vindicating victims’ rights or blowing the whistle on misconduct — especially in the qui tam practice area, a focus of Seeger Weiss.

Here’s what Weiss and Jaso had to say….

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We’ve been hearing talk of interesting developments at Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the litigation powerhouse founded by the legendary David Boies, which seems to be doing well despite the downturn (see their bonuses). If you have info to share, please feel free to email us.

Here is some news that we can confirm. The BSF office in New Jersey — located in the upscale community of Short Hills, home to the fabulous, high-end shopping mall — is breaking off from the mother ship. Partners David Stone (at right) and Robert Magnanini are hanging up their own shingle, at Stone & Magnanini. (The official press release is available here.)

As one might expect of Boies Schiller partners, Stone and Magnanini are highly experienced and impressively credentialed. David Stone (above right) — a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he worked with such heavyweights as Alan Dershowitz and Laurence Tribe — has developed a robust practice in complex civil and criminal litigation. He has been particularly successful in handling False Claims Act cases, where he has scored some major victories (including a $163 million settlement in the Medco case).

Bob Magnanini (at right), a graduate of Columbia Law School, has similarly extensive experience in complex civil and criminal cases, especially False Claims Act matters. He’s also a Lieutenant Colonel in the New York Army National Guard, serving as the senior division staff officer from the 42nd Infantry Division at the World Trade Center for the two weeks following the 9/11 attacks.

They’ll be joined by Eric Jaso, as counsel. Jaso, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, is a former Justice Department official and federal prosecutor, who also worked at Latham & Watkins and Cravath. (Disclosure: Jaso is a friend and former colleague of your above-signed scribe, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey.)

We chatted on the phone with David Stone — no relation to Eli — about the new firm. Read more, after the jump.

UPDATE (4/7/09): As of now, the firm is hiring. Details here.

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