Reality TV hotties

Season 3 of The Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA) premiered this week on Bravo. Why, you might ask, are we covering a reality show that features more catfighting and hair pulling than a prize-off between Kenneth Kratz and Jack Camp?

Because the new season brought with it a new cast member who is not only a southern belle, but is also the managing partner of her very own boutique tiny law firm.  She describes herself as fabulous, fierce, and beautiful. She’s even been nominated as one of Atlanta’s Top 100 Black Women of Influence for 2010.

Most importantly, she knows she can have it all.

Meet Phaedra Parks, a graduate of Wesleyan College, University of Georgia School of Law, and an entertainment Super Lawyer! To listen to Phaedra, you’d think she was a direct descendant of Johnny Cochran. He’s the one who told her to hang out her own shingle — though it’s unclear if Cochran was suffering the effects of his fatal brain tumor when he made this suggestion…

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The new season of The Apprentice: Recession Edition premieres tomorrow night on NBC, and if you weren’t planning on watching it because it’s the 87th season and nobody cares, you just might want to reverse course. No fewer than five unemployed lawyers — cupcake-wielding Brandy, ex-beauty queen Nicole, fashion-obsessed Mahsa, old person Clint, and Prince Harry-lookalike James — are competing to be Donald Trump’s main minion this season. Above the Law scored an advance interview with one of them.

James Weir, 31, was a second-year litigator in Clifford Chance’s New York office before getting laid off because of the economy back in October 2008.  Unable to find work, this Duke undergrad and ’06 Georgetown Law grad became a “couch surfer” (according to his Apprentice bio), brazenly unafraid of bedbugs (I asked), who spent his time applying for jobs, watching a lot of Netflix Instantly Viewable, and learning to stain furniture (presumably on purpose).

In our brief interview, James reveals ATL’s role in his casting (!!), shares the two things he wishes he said on air, and tells us what his mom really thinks about all of this…

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Some Italian-Americans from New Jersey end up handing down the law. E.g., Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito.

And some Italian-Americans from New Jersey end up getting in trouble with the law. E.g., Snooki, the pint-sized, gallon-breasted breakout star of MTV’s popular Jersey Shore reality TV show.

According to TMZ, Snooki — a.k.a. Nicole Polizzi — was arrested earlier today in Seaside Heights, NJ. What was her alleged offense?

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Earlier this week, we told you to look out for a former Clifford Chance associate — Georgetown Law grad James Weir — on the upcoming recession-inspired edition of “The Apprentice.” We lamented that Donald Trump was providing work to only one unemployed lawyer.

Shortly thereafter, we found out that the Donald had in fact been more gracious than that to the legal profession. He has given work to at least two down-and-out legal eagles. A tipster wrote:

Saw your post about the former Clifford Chance attorney who was cast for this upcoming season of the Apprentice and wanted to let you know there is also a recent Brooklyn Law grad named Mahsa Saiedi-Azcuy on the show. She graduated in 2009 and was actually hired by the Brooklyn DA, uncertain as to her current employment status though.

We look forward to this match-up: Woman vs. Man. Brooklyn Law vs. Georgetown Law. DA’s Office vs. Biglaw.

Plus, Saiedi-Azcuy is hot…

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Real Housewives of New Jersey son Albie Manzo may be slow, but he’s determined. He flunked out of Seton Hall law school, but he still wants his law degree, and met with a lawyer in the show’s last episode to figure out how he can get it.

Manzo says that the culprit behind his poor law school performance — reflected in his GPA of 1.9 — is a learning disability that causes him to take three times as long as normal people to absorb information. Some may question whether LDs and JDs go together. Said one ATL commenter:

If he has a learning disability, he really shouldn’t be a lawyer. It takes him three times as long to absorb information? Are clients going to be ok with paying him three times as much to get something done? The legal professions is a skilled profession and requires a certain amount of intellect. If one doesn’t have the required intelligence, then it is not right for them… it would be like making exceptions and giving special treatment so ugly people can be supermodels.

But his mom told him he should go for it anyway, become an attorney, “and show Seton Hall the mistake they made.” In the show’s last episode, Manzo met with a lawyer who told him he needs a letter from the school attesting to the fact that they made a mistake. Otherwise, Manzo has to wait two years to reapply to law school….

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Erin Elmore, The Apprentice

Erin Elmore, ex-reality TV star.

In our last few reality TV stories, we have highlighted the perils of putting your life on camera — publicly flunking out of law school, having the world know you’ve failed the bar exam twice, and exposing an ego surgically enhanced to the size of Texas.

One former reality TV star emailed us to protest. Erin Elmore wrote:

I also was on a realty show….. Apprentice 3 with Donald Trump. It actually opened career doors and I never regretted doing the show!!!

Elmore was on the 2005 Magna vs. Net Worth edition of the show, pitting those with book smarts against those with street smarts. Since she has a law degree from Villanova, she was obviously teamed up with the book smarties.

She sent along a series of YouTube clips with the email, showcasing all the TV gigs she’s gotten since doing The Apprentice. Here’s a montage. The girl knows how to work a Philadelphia red carpet.

Elmore worked for Marshall Dennehey and then JP Morgan Chase before going on The Apprentice. Trump fired her, and she returned to the world of law. To what great heights has reality television propelled her?

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MTV has sunk low. Really low. Its newest program, Downtown Girls — a reality TV show about a group of hot girls living in TriBeCa — is using the New York bar exam as a dramatic narrative hook.

We wrote before about the law grad on the show in our post: Why Unemployed Lawyers Shouldn’t Go On Reality TV Shows — Exhibit A: Victoria, of MTV’s Downtown Girls. Her bio on the MTV site described her as an aspiring attorney who is “a source of rattlebrained comic relief” and “currently awaiting the results of her second attempt at the bar exam.”

We’ve since learned from tipsters that Victoria is a Brooklyn Law School grad. Her results came in on episode 4 of the show. The show’s lead Carrie Bradshaw-inspired character real person is Shallon, who narrates at the beginning of the episode: “Victoria is about to find out the results of her bar exam and that could totally shift the course of her whole life.”

Consider life shifted. The second time was not the charm for Victoria. So what do you do if you find out that you failed the bar exam on national television?

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New Jersey is taking over the world of reality television programming. Though it would surely be sheer torture to be locked in a room with a bunch of Jersey folk, their ridiculous antics and outsized attitudes make for great entertainment when confined to the small screen.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey is by far the most popular of the Housewives series. It’s now in its second season, and it appears that many of our Above the Law readers are fans. We received a landfill’s worth of emails about the legal hook in last night’s episode. One of the Real Sons of the Housewives of New Jerseys — Albie Manzo, son of Caroline Manzo — was in law school. As he said in an interview on the Bravo website, in response to a question about his love life: “School makes the likelihood of any relationship working slim. I always tell my friends, sometimes I feel like I’m dating law school.”

Alas, Albie just got dumped by Lady Justice — he failed out of law school after only one semester, as viewers learned last night. Here’s a clip of Albie breaking the news to his mom. The reality TV hottie claims to have a learning disability that causes him to take three times as long as normal people to absorb information, resulting in a shameful GPA in his fall semester.

While the LD sounds like it could help Albie rack up some serious billable hours, the school wasn’t supportive. A tipster reports:

Albie said the administration told him that if he couldn’t cut it with his learning disability, lawyering probably isn’t for him.

Which law school had such harsh words for the learning-impaired Jersey boy?

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Most New York lawyer types have given up on the idea of cooking for themselves; they’re far more likely to get their dinner from Seamless Web than from their own fridge and stovetop. But not Serena Palumbo. She’s now in-house counsel for an Italian bank, and has persevered in making nightly home-made dinners, despite prior stints at Schulte Roth and Shearman & Sterling.

And her perseverance has led to a possible career opportunity: TV celebrity chef. She’s one of the competitors in The Next Food Network Star, a Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentiis-hosted reality competition, which is exactly what it sounds like.

Palumbo looks great in photos, but a former colleague who caught the premiere told us she struggled a bit in the first episode:

Wolfgang Puck told Giada that the Food Network might have to make room for a new Italian princess.

She did a good job with the food but struggled in front of the camera; she came across a bit forced so she’s not a front-runner but can probably turn things around.

Curses. Corporate lawyers don’t get to spend time in a courtroom, practicing their TV face in front of a jury.

We caught up with Serena by phone this week and asked her how she got onto the show, and more importantly, how she finds time to cook dinner every night at home in Manhattan…

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Victoria of MTV's Downtown Girls

With job prospects bleak and the allure of fleeting fame high, some lawyers have considered sending their résumés to reality TV show casting companies instead of legal recruiters. But competition is tough in the realm of trashy television, too.

One unemployed New York lawyer is living the reality TV star dream. Meet Victoria. She is one of the stars of Downtown Girls, a new MTV series about hot girls living in TriBeCa. Sounds like a winner!

Let’s take a look at her bio:

An aspiring attorney, Victoria is Shallon’s other roommate, whose eccentric ways provide a source of rattlebrained comic relief. Victoria recently graduated from law school and is currently awaiting the results of her second attempt at the bar exam. Like her roommates, Victoria is also single, and is infamously known as the “queen of the first date.”

Really? You’re going to include the fact that you failed the bar exam in your MTV website bio?

Can it get worse?

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