Fabulosity

It seems that Supreme Court clerks are having a moment right now. They’ve made the pages of New York Magazine. They’re getting profiled by Thomson Reuters. They’re being nominated for ambassadorships (before even hitting age 40). They’re the subject of a new book edited by Todd Peppers and Artemus Ward, In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks and Their Justices (affiliate link; I have a review copy and am looking forward to reading it).

And why are SCOTUS clerks in the limelight? One reason is that they are privy to some serious secrets. The entire nation is eagerly anticipating the Obamacare decision — and they know how it’s going to come out.

No wonder a “no guests” policy has been instituted at the SCOTUS clerk happy hours. The pressure to keep the Obamacare secret — but also to spill it! — must be mind-blowing.

Some of the current clerks are married; do you think they’ve been able to resist telling their spouses? If a clerk goes out for drinks with friends and gets a little tipsy, might he spill the beans? If a clerk has brunch with her parents on Sunday for Father’s Day, and Dad speculates about how the case will come out, could the clerk’s telling facial expression reveal the ruling? [FN1]

If I were one of the Elect this Term, I’d never leave my apartment except to go to work, and I’d set my email auto-reply and voicemail greetings to say the following: “Please be advised that I will be completely unavailable — for in-person meetings, telephone conversations, or any other type of contact — until June 25, 2012. Thank you for your understanding.”

This brings us to today’s topic: the latest news in Supreme Court clerk hiring. Which lucky (and brilliant) young lawyers will find themselves at One First Street for October Term 2012?

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It must be tough to leave an apartment like this one, with great views of Central Park, to go work in a drab federal office building.

Being a federal prosecutor is an amazing legal job, but it doesn’t pay particularly well. When I worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, I earned well under six figures. An assistant U.S. attorney can break the $100,000 mark after a sufficient number of years in practice, but AUSAs generally don’t earn Biglaw money.

(People who work as special AUSAs on secondment from better-paying parts of the federal government, such as Main Justice or the SEC, earn significantly more than regular AUSAs on the “AD” — Administratively Determined, aka Awfully Depressing — pay scale. But even these SAUSAs, not to be confused with the completely unpaid SAUSAs, make less than they would in comparable private practice positions.)

This brings us to the question du jour: how can a federal prosecutor afford to live in an apartment that is worth more than twice as much as the most expensive lawyer home in Washington, D.C.? We’re talking about a $25 million apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, in one of Fifth Avenue’s finest prewar buildings, with amazing views of Central Park.

Come up with some guesses, then keep reading….

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Judge Paul Watford

Congratulations to the newest member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Honorable Paul J. Watford. On Monday, Watford, currently a 44-year-old partner at the super-elite Munger Tolles & Olson, was confirmed to the federal bench. The vote was 61-34, and it came after a bit of drama in the Senate.

It’s surprising that Watford’s nomination was so contentious, given that he has a number of backers from the right side of the aisle. As noted by the San Francisco Chronicle, “[h]is supporters included conservative UCLA law Professor Eugene Volokh, who has described Watford as brilliant and ideologically moderate, and attorney Jeremy Rosen, former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the conservative Federalist Society” (and a noted appellate lawyer, who has appeared before in these pages).

That’s not all. Watford clerked for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, one of a handful of prominent conservative or libertarian judges on the (generally liberal) Ninth Circuit. If you look at the ranks of former Kozinski clerks, you’ll see many members in good standing of the vast right-wing conspiracy (and some who are not, like Paul Watford — who went on to clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and was nominated to the Ninth Circuit by a Democratic president).

Now that the handsome Watford has joined his superhottie boss on the bench, we have a trivia question: Who is the circuit judge with the most former law clerks to join him on the Court of Appeals during his lifetime?

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This $10 million house is owned by a lawyer at a top law firm. Which one?

What can we say? We can’t get enough of Washington real estate. And neither can you, judging from the traffic generated by our recent look at some million-dollar homes in the D.C. area. So let’s return to that well.

Our last story was about homes in the $1 million to $3 million range. Let’s class it up a bit and look at Lawyerly Lairs ranging in value from $7 million to $10 million….

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Which former White House official lives in this charming abode?

As we move deeper into election season, more of the nation’s attention is turning to Washington. So it seems only fitting for Lawyerly Lairs, our peek into the homes and offices of top legal talent, to follow suit.

In our last visit to D.C., we looked at residences worth around $500,000, a perfectly respectable sum. But today, to enhance the voyeuristic thrill, we’re upping the price point. We’re limiting ourselves to seven-figure residences.

Let’s have a look at some million-dollar homes in the Washington metropolitan area, shall we?

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If you’re like most law students these days, your greatest accomplishment in law school has been the mastery of competing online distractions. Whether you’re checking Facebook, playing a game of Bloons, Gchatting with friends, buying a pair of shoes, or reading Above the Law, you can keep a straight face in class, and make believe like you were actually paying attention.

One law student out there saw this as an opening, and chose to use it to her advantage. She knew that everyone was going gaga over memes (we even had our own lawyer meme competition), so she combined the law school experience with animated gifs, and voilà, the Tumblr blog #wheninlawschool was born. With more than 400,000 page views in the last week alone, the site’s gone viral.

Countless readers have sent in tips along the lines of, “How has this not hit ATL yet?” Well, today’s your lucky today, because this week, we spoke to the anonymous internet diva behind the latest law school craze….

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As we mentioned last week, the American Lawyer recently released its highly influential, closely watched Am Law 100 law firm rankings. And despite all the doom and gloom permeating the legal profession, as well as the stagnant bonuses for associates lucky enough to make it into Biglaw, partners at large law firms are living just as large as ever.

In a way, the recovery in Biglaw is not unlike the recovery in America in general. If you were already well-off, you’re doing great now. It’s just not trickling down to anybody else. See, e.g., anemic spring bonuses.

Interestingly enough, the division of the world into “haves and have-nots” continues even into the world of major law firms. Partners at super-top-tier firms are putting even more distance between themselves and partners at less high-powered or less profitable firms.

Let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

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Of course HRH - 'Her Royal Hillaryness' - made the list.

Earlier this week, Time magazine released its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, the Time 100. For lawyers, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

The good news: lawyers represent over 10 percent of the Time 100. The bad news: many of the law-degree-holding honorees were not recognized for their work as lawyers.

So which legal eagles soared into the Time 100 this year?

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Most of the coverage of this $10 million Malibu beach house changing hands has focused on the famous seller. Music mogul Irving Azoff, executive chairman of Live Nation Entertainment and the founder of Azoff Music Management Group, has represented such mono-monikered celebrities as Seal, Jewel, and Christina (Aguilera, of course).

But we’re more interested in the buyer, a phenomenally successful litigator. Who is he, and where does he work?

And what does the inside of his new home look like? We have photos, of course….

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(For A Cool $10 Million)”

845 West End Avenue

In the battle to stay high (or climb higher) in the all-powerful U.S. News law school rankings, law schools compete with each other to woo star faculty. And this makes sense. Because a school’s peer reputation score “appears to explain around 90% of the variation in overall USNWR score,” as noted by Professor Eric Talley over at TaxProf Blog, it pays for a law school to snag top talent.

How does a law school prevail in the battle for superstars? Well, despite their impressive academic pedigrees and their Big Ideas, law professors just like us: they love luxury real estate.

Check out the $3.6 million apartment, located in the magnificent prewar condominium at 845 West End Avenue, that NYU Law School just added to its collection of fabulous faculty housing….

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