Helen Wan

Last year, St. Martin’s Press published The Partner Track, the debut novel of lawyer Helen Wan. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, I praised the book for being engaging, suspenseful, and — unlike so many legal novels — realistic. The paperback edition of The Partner Track became available last week.

I enjoy fiction about lawyers, as both a reader and writer — my own first novel comes out in a few weeks — and I’m deeply interested in how other writers work. So I interviewed Helen Wan about her book, her approach to writing, and how she managed to write a novel while holding down a demanding job as an in-house lawyer for Time Warner. I also asked for her advice on how women and minority lawyers can succeed in Biglaw.

Here’s a (lightly edited and condensed) write-up of our conversation.

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Ed. note: Due to the Presidents’ Day holiday, we will be on a reduced publication schedule today. We will still be publishing, but less frequently than usual. We will be back in full force tomorrow.

* With a perfect record for equality post-Windsor and four appellate courts soon set to rule, it looks like the Supreme Court will get a second bite at the gay marriage apple by 2015. [National Law Journal]

* Per Am Law, Mayer Brown just posted its highest profits ever. Maybe that’s one of the reasons the NSA’s thunder from down under, the Australian Signals Directorate, was spying on it. [New York Times]

* For Asian American women, Biglaw’s “bamboo ceiling” may be just as tough to crack as its glass ceiling. What’s that? Find out by reading Helen Wan’s book, The Partner Track (affiliate link). [Washington Post]

* Haller Jackson, the law clerk accused of attempted aggravated rape of a minor, has been in and out of court. His defense team filed a motion to suppress a purported confession. MOAR info, plz! [Slabbed]

* Controversy alert: Michael Dunn was convicted of four out of five charges, including three counts of attempted murder, in Florida’s “loud music” trial, but the jury was hung on the murder charge. Lame. [CNN]

Jodi Arias

* Hot on the heels of news about Pillsbury’s talks with Orrick, we’ve got the scoop on yet another possible law firm merger. Patton Boggs has the urge to merge, and Locke Lord seems pretty receptive. [Reuters]

* Three people who were optimistic about law school graduated with three very different results. One has a job, one is unemployed, and one failed the bar. Sadly, this seems pretty standard. [National Law Journal]

* Lat’s going to be on vacation this week (lucky him), but while he’s gone you can check out his review of a new novel set in a law firm, The Partner Track (affiliate link) by Helen Wan. Enjoy! [Wall Street Journal]

* A judge denied the NCAA’s motion to dismiss Ed O’Bannon’s antitrust lawsuit, noting everyone could “suck her dicta” concerning the Supreme Court’s notion that players cannot be compensated. [ESPN]

* Jodi Arias wants to fire Kirk Nurmi, her lead attorney, claiming in a 12-page handwritten motion that he has an “utter poverty of people skills.” Her words hurt as much as her stab wounds. :( [Arizona Republic]


* Overrated: Government surveillance is out of control. Underrated: Government spending massive amounts of money making the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command look like the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation is out of control. [Lowering the Bar]

* Helen Wan explains “The 5 Rules Every New Associate Must Know.” Not included: learning all the technical details required to convincingly say your smartphone failed to get that 1 a.m. message. [The Careerist]

* Another post in the fascinating series about creating visual maps of Supreme Court doctrine. It’s like a nerdier version of the The Atlas of Middle-Earth (affiliate link). [PrawfsBlawg]

* Ilya Somin reviews the Supreme Court’s most recent Takings Clause jurisprudence. It’s a lot harder for the government to take your property away. But don’t worry, it’s still really easy to lose all your property to unregulated markets. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* The Office of the Solicitor General may have inadvertently helped out Frederick Oberlander and Richard Lerner, the two lawyers charged with criminal contempt for talking about a cooperator’s sentence (if you can call a $25,000 fine for admitting to a $40 million fraud a “sentence”) that the feds claim was sealed. [Wise Law NY]

* A somewhat sad art show based on requests from prisoners in solitary. Some beautiful stuff here. Though I’d have expected more “Rita Hayworth” photo requests. [Gawker]

* The Daily Show takes on biotech patents. Video after the jump…

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I do not mean to say that life as a young woman of color at a large corporate law firm felt like just one Big Marathon of Blatant Racist and Sexist Slights. The experience is, of course, far more nuanced and subtle than that, and often more insidious and harder to battle for its very sublety.

Helen Wan, author of The Partner Track (affiliate link), reflecting on the plight of minority women in Biglaw. (For additional thoughts on the subject, see Vivia Chen.)

* A comprehensive analysis of the New York Times wedding announcements over the years. As the research team frames the question, “What do the world’s most self-important people think is important?” Unsurprisingly, the answer is “where they went to law school.” [News Genius / Rap Genius]

* The National Jurist would like to deceive convince the potential law school class of 2017 that there will be tons of jobs for them. Apparently the legions of unemployed lawyers now will just disappear in some sort of legal industry Carousel. [National Jurist]

* Elizabeth Wurtzel’s mom loves Al Jazeera because she hates pundits and talking heads. Like, for instance, Elizabeth Wurtzel. [The Daily Beast]

* Walter Olson of Overlawyered is going on the road. There are a lot of stops; check if he’s coming to a town near you. You could totally tag one of these venues in a big slip-and-fall case. [Overlawyered]

* The million-dollar-law-degree guys mount another defense. [Am Law Daily via Law School Tuition Bubble]

* In the midst of a slew of law deans stepping down, Dean Patricia Salkin thinks this is the perfect time to become a law dean. Elie already put his hat in the ring for every available position via Facebook. [The Faculty Lounge]

* Military personnel are guaranteed benefits for same-sex partners. Including personnel in state national guard units. But Texas has decided to deny those benefits. Yeehaw! In all seriousness, this is why all those liberals rooting for state marijuana ballot measures against the feds needed a little more foresight. [Dallas Voice]

* An interview with Helen Wan, the author of The Partner Track: A Novel (affiliate link). Keep on the lookout for David’s coming interview with Helen. [CNN]