Justice Department

Ronan Farrow: a former Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree turned contest judge.

Since 2012, the list-loving folks at Forbes have been publishing “30 Under 30″ compilations for various fields of endeavor. The 2014 lists just came out, and they include, of course, a 30 Under 30 for law and public policy. We noted the news in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs.

Such lists generate great traffic, but they also exhibit a somewhat arbitrary character that can be criticized, even mocked. The New Yorker, for example, took inspiration from Forbes to create 3 Under 3: Entrepreneurs, Intellectuals, Toddlers.

A list of notable legal eagles under 30 presents additional problems. Unlike, say, sports or the arts, where people over 30 might already be “over the hill,” law doesn’t lend itself to super-young prodigies. As Miguel Morales of Forbes points out in introducing the list, “It’s never easy for FORBES staffers to sniff out the 30 best and brightest Millennials making an impact on their fields. In law and public policy, where most people are barely out of law school by 30, let alone blazing trails in their fields, the task sometimes felt farcical.”

Whether it’s farcical or not, we know you want to see the list. Let’s have a peek, shall we?

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Remember the 80s? Big hair, Dynasty, Huey Lewis was popular for some reason. Well, Judge Jed Rakoff remembers the 80s, and he also remembers the way the federal government used to actually investigate and prosecute people who committed massive financial crimes — Mike Milken, Ivan Boesky, Charles Keating, a bevy of other savings and loans kingpins. Good times.

And Judge Rakoff wants to know what happened to prosecuting financial crimes, specifically the sort of fraud that crippled the economy. So he took to the pages of the New York Review of Books to ponder all the financial prosecutions that could have been. And he has some theories about what happened and how prosecutors could do a better job in the future.

It’s a fascinating look at a bunch of ideas that the government is going to totally ignore…

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Don’t say we never bring you happy news here at Above the Law. Yesterday, for example, we extended congratulations to the 2014 Skadden Fellows, 28 graduating law students and judicial clerks who just landed prestigious public interest fellowships.

Today we are pleased to present to you the 2014 Bristow Fellows. As we’re previously explained, the holders of these one-year fellowships in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office get to work on cases pending before the Supreme Court, some of the most fascinating and important matters in all the land.

Bristow Fellowships, awarded to recent law school graduates with outstanding academic records and top clerkships, are generally regarded as second only to Supreme Court clerkships in prestige (and often lead to SCOTUS clerkships as well). You can read more about the Bristow Fellowship, including the job responsibilities and application process, on the Justice Department website.

Who are the newest Bristow Fellows? Where did they graduate from law school, and for whom did they clerk? Inquiring minds want to know….

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Ed. note: Matt Kaiser founded The Kaiser Law Firm PLLC, a white-collar boutique in Washington, D.C., and will now be writing a weekly column for us about white-collar practice and his adventures in building a law firm. Matt previously covered the Supreme Court for us. This is the second installment of his new column.

Suppose you’re a fourth-year associate in a litigation department in a large firm on one of the coasts. You’ve worked on a lot of different matters — you’ve done document review for commercial litigation. You put together a privilege log for some patent litigation (who says patent litigation is specialized?). You waded through documents in an FCPA case. You even got to do some deposition digesting for a reinsurance lawsuit!

You really liked your work on the FCPA document review. You noticed that the documents related to a foreign country, which sounded exotic. You could sit in your office, staring at the brick wall on the other side of the alley, and imagine that you were an extra in Casablanca, with a view toward how the world really works overseas.

Perhaps most importantly, you loved how your friends from law school reacted when you told them you were working on an FCPA matter. Cocktail parties became more interesting when people thought of you as a white-collar criminal defense lawyer, rather than the reinsurance guy. You resolved that you’d do more white-collar work and perhaps make this noble practice area the focus of your career.

But how?

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For those too young to remember, allow me to explain. It wasn’t until Ryan White that Ronald Reagan even knew what AIDS was. The sick kid from Indiana prompted President Reagan to, in one of his famous fireside chats, declare war on the disease. That war was won two years later with an armistice signed in Paris by emissaries from both warring nations. Anyway, that’s why we have parades all the time now.

Fast forward, like, 70 years, and we arrive at last week. A larcenous little leukemia survivor stole our collective hearts with a day of make-believe so unbelievably rich, the Muppet Babies have considered filing a copyright lawsuit. The child, with a real name no one cares about and the fake name “Batkid,” was allowed to run around the entire city of San Francisco while denizens of that city (mostly homeless bums) pretended that he was a superhero. He rescued a damsel in distress, helped to arrest the Riddler, and finished the day off by murdering the Penguin in cold blood. JKJKJK. The Penguin plot line had something to do with the San Francisco Giants mascot.

Anyway, the sickly little scamp had a helluva day and made everyone feel like a million bucks. All because of pretend.

And no one pretended harder than the U.S. Attorney’s Office….

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* How Jamie Dimon (and Stephen Cutler and Rodge Cohen) reached JPMorgan Chase’s tentative $13 billion settlement with Eric Holder and the Department of Justice. [DealBook / New York Times; Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Congratulations to all the New Jersey couples who got married since midnight, in the wake of the state supreme court’s decision not to stay a lower-court ruling in favor of marriage equality. [Newark Star-Ledger]

* Additional insight into all the partner departures from Weil Gotshal in Texas. [Dallas Morning News]

* Lawyers aren’t the only folks who know how to overbill; defense contractors do too, according to federal prosecutors who allege that a company provided prostitutes and kickbacks to Navy personnel. [Washington Post via The BLT]

* The legal battle over Obamacare rages on. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Judge Oing, this really isn’t that hard. Here’s a draft opinion for you in the long-running litigation between Macy’s and J.C. Penney over the right to sell Martha Stewart merchandise (by James Stewart, no relation to Martha). [New York Times]

* If you’d like to run with the bulls without schlepping to Spain, former lawyers Rob Dickens and Brad Scudder can help. Presumably their legal training helped them draft ironclad waivers. [BuzzFeed]

* Another interesting but very different event, taking place this Wednesday: “Healing the U.S. Lawsuit System.” [U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (one of our advertisers)]

Sergio Garcia (not the racist golfer) has lived in California most of his life. He worked his way through law school and then took and passed the California bar exam on the first try.

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court heard argument on whether Garcia could be admitted to practice law.

Sergio Garcia was brought to the United States when he was 17 months old. The California justices must decide whether an undocumented immigrant can be admitted. The State of California says yes. The Obama Administration says no.

The news coverage of the case implies that California has the equities on its side while the Obama Administration has the law.

It’s a tidy narrative for a story, but the media hasn’t really focused on the briefs, because when you actually unpack the statute the administration cites, it requires tortured mental gymnastics to support rejecting Garcia’s application….

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I didn’t go to Eric Holder’s big speech at the ABA annual meeting on Monday. I kind of halfheartedly tried to go, but there were a lot of people who wanted to see Holder say something they could’ve read about online hours earlier.

If the ABA had invited Secretary of Education Arne Duncan over to speak about the horrendous abuse of federal funds by purveyors of higher education, I’d have smashed my way in. But in the crush of people trying to get a look at the Attorney General trying to dismantle a big part of the United States “War On Drugs,” I was reminded that regulating legal education is a small part of what the ABA does — and a part that isn’t of great institutional importance to the organization. The ABA wants a seat at the policy table when it comes to big sexy issues of justice and legal services. Preventing member institutions from price-gouging young people doesn’t get its logo splashed across all the major news networks.

So, Eric Holder delivered a big policy address. And later, by which point I was on a plane, Hillary Clinton spoke about how she’ll be speaking about other things as she doesn’t run for president just yet. Holder! Hillary! Marvel at the ABA’s relevance in national policy debates!

Except, they’re not relevant. Holder did make an important speech on Monday, and he couldn’t have found a more supportive group for his take-down of mandatory minimums had he been speaking to potheads in Golden Gate Park. But really, the ABA isn’t going to be any more helpful when it comes to actually convincing Congress than a meeting of the 4:20 club…

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One hopes “black edge” wasn’t on the list. Anyway, today’s indictment against SAC, for wire fraud and securities fraud, is something to behold:

“For example, on or about July 29, 2009, a recently hired SAC PM (the ‘New PM’) sent an instant message to [Steve Cohen] and relayed that, due to some ‘recent research,’ the New PM planned to short Nokia when he started work 10 days later. The New PM apologized for being ‘cryptic’ but noted that the head of SAC compliance ‘was giving me Rules 101 yesterday – so I won’t be saying much[.] [T]oo scary.’”

Possibly the weirdest part here is that new hires got compliance lectures two weeks before they showed up at the firm? But maybe not; the DOJ takes a pretty dim view of SAC’s hiring process generally, and if you believe the DOJ that SAC’s main hiring criterion was “is good at insider trading,” then you could imagine the need for a little pre-start-date warning in email etiquette:

Continue reading over at DealBreaker….

The NYPD really loves its stop and frisk policy. The prospect of randomly stopping exclusively minorities a random selection of New Yorkers really excites the department. And why not? The practice has done wonders to prevent crime in the city. Well, if you define “crime” as pot possession. Because the policy hasn’t accomplished much of anything else.

Now the constitutionality of the policy is in jeopardy, awaiting a decision from Judge Shira “Don’t Call Me Judy” Scheindlin, the judge the City decided to embarrass by commissioning a report accusing her of bias because the City is incredibly stupid.

When and if (OK, “when”) Judge Scheindlin strikes down the current iteration of the policy, Eric Holder has a suggestion for how to remedy the violation. And Mayor Mike Bloomberg is none too pleased…

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