The Apprentice

Today we bring you a new installment in our popular series on celebrity summer associates. The stories in this series have been positive and uplifting — but we should note that we welcome tales of summer associate scandal as well.

With the summer winding down, it’s safe to share salacious tales of SA misbehavior. Please submit them by email, to [email protected] (subject line: “Summer Associate Story”), or by text message. As you know, we keep our tipsters anonymous.

Now, on to today’s celebrity summer associate.

Last week, in a piece for the New York Times’s Room for Debate project, I argued for reforming legal education by bringing back apprentices in law. But I was not optimistic about that change happening anytime soon.

Well, it seems that my call for apprentices has been heard. A former star of Donald Trump’s popular reality television show, The Apprentice, is now “apprenticing” at a major law firm, as a summer associate.

Who is this ex-Apprentice, and where is this person working?

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Brandy Kuentzel, laid-off K&E lawyer turned reality TV star.

Apologies for this very belated coverage of the season finale of The Apprentice, which aired last week. Alas, no member of Team ATL — not even Marin, our resident reality TV addict — actually watched the show. The final episode was a bit like the proverbial tree falling in the forest without anyone around to hear it.

But it seems numerous ATL readers tuned in, even though ratings for the show are down 75 percent since the premiere season. So here’s a post, triggered by your many email pleas for coverage.

We extend warm congratulations to Brandy Kuentzel, the Chicago Law alumna and laid-off Kirkland & Ellis associate who emerged victorious in the reality TV competition. In the finale, Kuentzel defeated a fellow lawyer, Clint — a 40-year-old SMU Law grad described in his NBC bio as “living off of credit” — for the opportunity to work for Donald Trump.

One Brandy fan gave us some background on her: “She went to University of Chicago, started at Kirkland SF as transactional associate. After she got laid off, she started a mobile truck cupcake business.” (Digression: Why is driving a cupcake truck such a popular fallback option for lawyers? See also Kate Carrara, of Philadelphia, and Lev Ekster, of New York.)

Continued our tipster: “Brandy has an insane background story. She’s from Alaska, and moved out at an early age to self-finance her education, after graduating as valedictorian of her high school. Oh, and she is insanely hot. Google her.”

As you can see from her photo, Brandy is most definitely a hottie. But, interestingly enough, Brandy Kuentzel wasn’t quite as smoking hot back in her law firm days….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Congrats to Brandy Kuentzel, Laid-Off Kirkland Lawyer Turned Apprentice Winner”

This year The Apprentice, a television show in which contestants compete for the privilege of working for Donald Trump, features 16 who are down on their luck, having lost previous jobs or otherwise having to start anew. No fewer than five of them are lawyers.

– from Trouble with the Law, an article about American law school graduates “finding that their chosen career is less lucrative than they had hoped,” in The Economist.

A rare moment where Mahsa has her mouth shut.

* Prisons are short on lethal injection drugs like thiopental sodium and propofol. Now we can’t kill people anymore. Thanks MJ, thanks a lot. [Wall Street Journal; New York Times]

* There’s a job opening at the Brooklyn DA’s Office. Mahsa Saeidi-Azcuy, one of the only employed contestants on The Apprentice, has left the building. Marin saw this coming weeks ago. [New York Law Journal]

* Obama makes draft picks for courts in the nation’s capital: Caitlin J. Halligan to the D.C. Circuit and Jimmie V. Reyna to the Federal Circuit. [Washington Post]

* Britney Spears is still so overprotected. Daddy Spears will continue to act as co-conservator. [Los Angeles Times]

* There are a million jobs available in the U.S. for highly skilled workers. Sure, our unemployment rate might be 9.5%, but Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch say we should give those jobs to immigrants instead. [Wall Street Journal]

* Proponents of Colorado’s Amendment 62, which would virtually outlaw abortion, brought a claim to keep voters from knowing all the facts. Ironically, a judge killed it before it became a viable suit. [Denver Daily News]

* Remember the St. John’s mom who embezzled money to pay for her son’s law school tuition? She isn’t a big fan of the Thirteenth Amendment, either. [New York Post]

We’ve already titillated you with an interview of one of the Apprentice contestants, former Clifford Chance associate James Weir. Now we’ll get our first look at the rest of the contestants on tonight’s premiere of The Apprentice, which this season is built around a recession theme (and stocked with a number of layoff victims, including laid-off lawyers).

Click on the liveblog below to experience the glory and majesty of Donald Trump, Donald Trump’s hair, and the recession-aided desperation of strangers.

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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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fame Brief: Interview with The Apprentice’s James Weir, Laid Off Clifford Chance Attorney”

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Another Legal Eagle on the Upcoming ‘Laid-off’ Edition of ‘The Apprentice’”

Donald Trump knows what it is to be down but not out. We’ve lost track of how many times he’s filed for bankruptcy. But he is a phoenix, who always arises from the Chapter 11 ashes, his flaming reddish hair unruffled.

Now Trump wants to offer the same opportunity to other high-flyers who were knocked down by the recession. The upcoming season of “The Apprentice” has a cast of those left jobless in the recent economic collapse.

When they were casting for the show, the producers reached out to Above the Law in the hopes of nailing down a laid-off lawyer for the cast.

The show was taped this summer. And it appears they found themselves a shiny, new laid-off legal eagle (UPDATE on July 23: Two of them, actually.) The producers haven’t released the official cast list yet, but our tipsters recognized one of the contestants in an ad plugging the show (via Popwatch):

So who is the lawyer, and what does his résumé look like?

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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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Reality Television Can Be Good For Your Career, Says Apprentice Loser”

Are you desperate enough to apply?

Donald Trump is in the market for a lawyer, and if you’re unemployable, laid-off, or suffering because of the recession, you might just be the attorney for him. The next iteration of “The Apprentice” will be devoted to recession refugees, and the producers are looking to cast some legal types.

If your world has been rocked by the recession, maybe it’s time to seek out a reality TV gig. You could try to get on a game show for a one-time payout — like the UC Hastings grad who will be applying her Wheel of Fortune winnings toward her student loans — or you could try to get on a show that promises full-time employment a one-year contract to its winner. Assuming that you fare better than lawyer-turned-Playboy model Kristine Lefebvre, a loser from The Apprentice: Los Angeles.

An “Apprentice” rep tells us:

We are very interested in laid-off lawyers. Even lawyers that might have their own firm, but maybe business has suffered since the recession. As long as the downturn in the economy has affected them in one way or another, we can consider them.

The show will be filming for six weeks in May, June and July. Details on applying and a look back at reality TV winners with JDs, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Alternatives for Laid-off Attorneys: The Apprentice Wants You!”