Big news out of Washington today: Bob Bauer is stepping down as White House counsel. He’s returning to his former firm, Perkins Coie, where he will represent Barack Obama as his personal lawyer and serve as general counsel to President Obama’s re-election campaign. Bauer is being replaced by his top deputy, leading litigatrix Kathryn Ruemmler.
Kathy Ruemmler is no stranger to these pages. She’s famous for her role as a lead prosecutrix in the Enron fraud case — and for her fabulous footwear.
Let’s learn more about Ruemmler’s shoes — are they peep-toes? — and review her impressive résumé….
For deputy prosecutor Kirmille Welbon, it's all about the shoes.
What the hell is going on with female lawyers in Indiana? Last month, a lawyer there was accused of going on a rampage, in which she allegedly attacked a boyfriend she suspected of cheating and then assaulted a corrections officer. Today we’ve got another attorney — a deputy prosecutor, no less — accused of violence. She allegedly attacked the wife of a man she was sleeping with.
That’s right, the “other woman” apparently attacked the wife. You can’t attack the spouse if you are the other woman. Doesn’t anybody respect the rules? When did Indiana turn into Vietnam?
And things didn’t even get out of hand until the other woman asked the wife to return a pair of Air Jordans, which just makes Indiana look like it’s operating 20 years behind the times…
Don’t worry, I’m not going to ruin the season finale of Mad Men for those who still have it sitting in their DVRs.
Instead, I’m here to remind people that Mad Men is a television show set in a time long since past. Much to the disappointment of white males everywhere, those days are gone and never coming back.
Of course, nostalgia (and the cultural memory of a time when white men were in unquestioned positions of dominance) is a powerful thing. It must be sad to know that winning the birth lottery doesn’t pay off quite as much as it used to. But that’s no excuse for trying to force an anachronistic worldview upon your current working environment. Society has moved on; at some point living in the past stops being “traditional” and starts getting “obsolete.”
And maybe even “illegal.” That’s the argument a former secretary at the firm of Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn is trying to make. She clams that the firm’s “old-school” policies created a hostile work environment and caused her to suffer a physical injury.
According to the secretary’s lawyer, administrative assistants at Honigman are required to strut to work in high heels…
Last week, I wrote (with great pleasure) about whether women lawyers should wear peep-toe shoes to court. In my informal poll of seven federal judges, the vote broke down roughly as follows: four in favor, two opposed, and one in the middle. (See the update — Judge Susan Graber seemed agnostic on peep-toes, but advised lawyers, male and female alike, “to consider comfort and color” in footwear choices.)
One of the judges who dissented, lodging her opposition to a litigatrix sporting peep-toe shoes in court, was Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw (9th Cir.):
My view is that if you have a question about the appropriateness of your attire, don’t risk it. Women appearing in court should never wear anything that draws attention to their anatomy over the merits of their case. You just never know how your audience — judges, jurors, clients or senior partners — will react. It’s better to play it safe in formal settings and save the peep-toes for after hours.
But don’t get the wrong impression about Judge Wardlaw, who is fierce and fabulous (see my earlier interview of her). She is not some fashion fuddy-duddy. Although she recommends against lawyers wearing peep-toes to court, she owns many pairs of herself, which she happily wears in chambers.
Check out these photos of Judge Wardlaw modeling peep-toe shoes, sent to Above the Law by her colleague on the Ninth Circuit, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski….
* Speaking of gays in the law, if you’re obsessing over Judge Vaughn Walker’s sexual orientation, stop it. Just stop it. [Huffington Post]
* First Rudolph Giuliani’s daughter gets busted shoplifting beauty products, and now the same thing happens with a former Miss USA. The lesson: beauty products are way too expensive. [CBS / Crimesider]
* You think legal outsourcing is only going to affect the lives of junior associates? As Larry Ribstein explains, it’s very likely that outsourcing will lead to a fundamental change in the way we regulate lawyers and law firms. [Forbes]
* The only person who can get away with acting like Judge Judy is Judge Judy. [Bad Lawyer]
* Ann Althouse thinks peep-toe shoes are just fine — and has fabulous taste in shoes herself, by the way. [Althouse]
* How come all of the top philanderers are men? That’s just sexist. [Law and More]
Earlier today, on the Senate floor, debate took place on whether to confirm Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th Supreme Court justice. The Kagan nomination is not very controversial, due to the nominee’s impeccable credentials and the Democrats’ 59 votes in the Senate.
In the legal blogosphere, a far more divisive debate is raging, over a subject just as important as confirming the fourth woman ever to the Supreme Court: Are peep-toe shoes appropriate professional footwear? Can female attorneys wear them to the office? What about to court?
The debate was ignited over at The Careerist, by Vivia Chen (no style slouch herself — not many legal journalists own floor-length mink coats). Chen recounted this anecdote:
Waiting in line in the ladies room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel recently, I heard this discussion: “In my day, I always wore pumps to court,” said in a woman in her fifties. “Can you believe this associate went to court with open-toe shoes?” Her companion shook her head, then asked: “How did she do?” The first woman replied, “Her work was good, but her shoes weren’t right.”
Chen then surveyed a number of lawyers, from around the country, and they could not reach a consensus on the appropriateness of peep-toe shoes. The debate continued over at the ABA Journal, where a post by Debra Cassens Weiss generated a flurry of comments.
Given that so many law firms are business casual nowadays, it is probably safe to wear peep-toe shoes to the office. The fashion guidelines issued by the New York office of Weil Gotshal, for example, officially bless “open toe or open heel shoes.” (Still unacceptable: “Athletic shoes, clogs, beach shoes, flip flops, beach shoes.”)
But what about wearing peep-toe shoes to court? On this subject, we decided to turn to the experts: namely, a panel of fabulous female federal judges….
Superstar litigatrix Kathryn Ruemmler, a litigation partner at Latham & Watkins and an Enron prosecutor before that, has been picked to serve as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General in the Obama Justice Department. That title is a mouthful, but lawyers inside the Beltway know it’s a Big Deal.
The revolving door between the DOJ and Latham swings again. Ruemmler has traded places with another fierce female litigator: Alice Fisher, who rejoined the firm after heading up the Criminal Division.
As for Ruemmler, the government’s gain is Latham’s loss. Says one LW tipster: “She’s a really good lawyer, and a genuinely nice person. We’re very sorry to lose her.”
Kathy Ruemmler isn’t just a genial genius; she’s stylish, too. From the WSJ Law Blog, reporting on a day of the Ken Lay trial:
Speaking of footwear, the boldest fashion statement of the day — possibly rivaling O’Melveny paralegal Bill Evans’s goth getup for the gutsiest sartorial move of the week — came from the government’s Ruemmler. The deputy director of the Enron Task Force, who won convictions against four Merrill Lynch bankers in the 2004 Nigerian Barge case, paired a conservative gray suit with stunning 4-inch bright pink stiletto spikes.
Litigatrix indeed. Just because you work for the DOJ doesn’t mean you have to shop at DSW.
There’s a lot of diversity in Obama’s Department picks so far. Eric Holder, nominated to serve as Attorney General, is African-Amercan. Elena Kagan and Dawn Johnsen, nominated to serve as, respectively, Solicitor General and head of the Office of Legal Counsel, are women.
The full memo about Ruemmler’s move, after the jump.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
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