Last week I attended an interesting talk by Preet Bharara, currently serving as the U.S. Attorney for the (extremely powerful and prestigious) Southern District of New York. I had heard great things about Bharara from many people, including current and former colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s office and people who previously worked with him on Capitol Hill, where he served as chief counsel to Senator Chuck Schumer. So I was eager to hear his remarks, which he delivered to the New York Financial Writers Association, a group of business and finance journalists here in New York.
Here’s my report on what he had to say — including, for those of you who aspire to be assistant U.S. attorneys, what he expects from the prosecutors who work for him….
Being a federal prosecutor, an assistant United States attorney (AUSA), is a great legal job. The work is interesting and challenging, you’re serving the public, and you’re paid decently — maybe not Biglaw bucks, but reasonably well when compared to many state government or public interest positions. And if you want to earn more money later, perhaps as your kids approach college age, you can walk through the revolving door into the world of private practice, which values AUSA experience.
I worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in my home state of New Jersey from 2003 to 2006 (under then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie). My colleagues enjoyed their work. I remember that when I interviewed for my position, I met one AUSA who told me, “I love my job so much, I’d do it for free!”
Well… would you? Because that’s what some U.S. attorney’s offices are offering: the opportunity to work there, for no pay, with a minimum commitment as to time period.
And apparently lawyers are lining up for the opportunity….
* Were you skeptical of all the law schools reporting to U.S. News that the median private-sector starting salary for their graduates is $160,000? Forbes explains why your skepticism is warranted. [Forbes via Constitutional Daily]
* On a related note, if you want to be a millionaire, you should definitely go to college. Law school? Not so much. [CNNMoney.com]
* Ninth Circuit to LGBT community: no gay marriage for you — yet. Request to vacate stay DENIED. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]
* Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio is suing his former defense lawyers, claiming that he was improperly charged for expenses like attorney underwear. If I had a client like Nacchio, I’d need new boxers too. [Bloomberg]
* Georgetown Law’s outgoing SBA president, William Broderick-Villa, is worried about GULC’s U.S. News ranking: “I do not like sharing the #14 spot with Texas one bit…. I’ve heard students tell me for awhile they fear that Texas will overtake us. And Texas is hungry.” [Georgetown Law Weekly (Google Cache)]
* An update on the partner who, when called out for blowing a deadline, threw his secretary and former associate under the bus (previously discussed here). SFL asks: “What happened to old-fashioned groveling?” [South Florida Lawyers]
* Congrats to my friend and law school classmate, Dan Stein, who has left the S.D.N.Y. U.S. Attorney’s Office (where he headed the public corruption unit) and joined Richards Kibbe & Orbe. [Richards Kibbe & Orbe]
* The S.E.C. is being attacked again about its ethical standards. It’s not like these problems started with Cam Newton. I mean, the S.E… what’s that? The Securities and Exchange Commission? What? No, I don’t even know what that is. What does that have to do with football? [New York Times]
* Horrifying syphilis experiments keep coming back to haunt the United States government. That’s so syphilis. [Charlotte Observer]
* Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is expected to sign legislation today ending capital punishment. I couldn’t think of a joke here, but this cat thinks it’s a frog. [Chicago Tribune]
* A judge helped cut an attorney out of his father’s will and claimed he was still able to act impartially on a case the attorney was handling. That sh*t-eating grin on the judge’s face every time the attorney spoke? Oh, that was just a joke he remembered. [WSJ Law Blog]
Might we be seeing a new trend, namely, federal prosecutors moonlighting as novelists?
Last year, as part of Above the Law’s Career Alternatives series, we profiled Allison Leotta, an assistant U.S. attorney in D.C. who wrote a well-received thriller, Law of Attraction. Today we introduce you to Natalie Lee — an assistant U.S. attorney in Savannah, former associate at Alston & Bird, and author of a new novel, Save as Draft. (When looking up the book, please note that Natalie writes under a pen name, “Cavanaugh Lee.”)
Like Law of Attraction, Save as Draft has garnered some nice reviews. A post on Chick Lit Reviews, for example, praises the book as a “fantastic read that all of us technology addicted Chick Lit fans will absolutely fall in love with, a must read!”
The reference to technology addiction relates to the novel’s ingenious premise. I discussed that premise — along with other topics, such as the inspiration for the book’s law firm partner / villainess, a products-liability litigatrix named Rose — in a recent interview with Natalie Lee….
Being a federal prosecutor is a great legal job, but it has its downsides. One of them, at least for me, was the anonymity. In your work as an assistant U.S. attorney, it’s not about you; it’s about the merits of the cases, and seeing that justice is done. That’s public-spirited and all, but it’s not very fabulous (at least not to a shameless attention-seeker like myself).
Given the relative anonymity of being an AUSA, it’s not normal for the New York Post to cover the hiring of any single one. But Tali Farhadian, who’s joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn), isn’t your normal AUSA.
How many federal prosecutors are as brilliant, as beautiful, and as filthy rich as Farhadian? And how many are as controversial?
Let’s learn why this lush Persian beauty is so celebrated in some quarters, and so loathed in others. And see some photos, too…
This Law of Attraction is a novel by Allison Leotta, a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. It’s a fun, fast-paced read; I could hardly put it down, finishing it in two sittings. I concur with the blurb by Harvard law professor and criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz: “I loved this novel. Law of Attraction is realistic, gritty, and filled with twists and turns. Allison Leotta’s female lawyer character is compelling and engaging. This is a great read for anyone who loves legal thrillers, cares about domestic violence, or wonders how lawyers can live with themselves.”
(Disclosure: I also enjoyed Law of Attraction because it contains an Above the Law cameo. After the protagonist, assistant U.S. attorney Anna Curtis, gets in trouble, her misadventures wind up on ATL (pp. 217-18). The novel even contains fictionalized comments from the peanut gallery of Above the Law commenters — which are hilarious.)
I spoke with Leotta recently, while she was in New York to meet with her agent and do a book reading. We discussed such subjects as why, and how, she wrote her novel; the Department of Justice review process for the book; how she juggles her day job as a prosecutor, her writing career, and being the mother to two kids; and her advice to lawyers who want to become writers.
We have a special place in our hearts for Judge Denny Chin (S.D.N.Y.). Last year, we dressed up as Judge Chin for Halloween (see right). Alas, even though Judge Chin has presided over some major matters — such as the Bernie Madoff case, in which he gave the Ponzi schemer 150 years, and the Google Books settlement talks — we were still mistaken for Judge Lance Ito by several people.
But Judge Chin’s profile is about to increase. Earlier today, by a vote of 98-0, Judge Chin was elevated to the Second Circuit.
The Asian-American community is thrilled. From one Asian ATL reader: “He was confirmed! Amazing and historic!”
But there have been Asian-American federal judges before. And there may be again in the not-too-distant future, depending on what happens to the controversial nomination of Berkeley law professor Goodwin Liu.
What is history-making about Judge Chin’s elevation?
Thomas O’Brien is the former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. He recently joined Paul Hastings, which trumpeted his arrival in a press release. Tom O’Brien is a public figure — he used to be the top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate — so he’s used to a little public scrutiny.
But O’Brien couldn’t have been prepared for what happened when his girlfriend’s estranged husband took an unauthorized stroll through her email inbox. The husband found emails between O’Brien and his wife, and they didn’t make him happy.
Instead of handling the situation like a rational adult, the husband — we’ll call him “Ken” — decided to bombard the professional networks of both O’Brien and his wife (also an attorney) with the “pillow talk” emails he discovered. Ken attempted to cast the relationship between O’Brien and his (Ken’s) wife as an affair.
This is not the first time such a thing has happened. Back in 2008, the New York Times reported on a husband’s similar vendetta against a successful Wall Street banker, carried out online. Earlier this year, as Above the Law readers may recall, a cuckolded husband emailed sexting messages between his wife and a White & Case attorney to all of the lawyers at White & Case in Miami.
Ken took this aggressive strategy one insane step further, apparently emailing every lawyer he could think of. You may have already received Ken’s emails, especially if you’re in California, from Ken himself or via email forward.
Is spamming an entire professional network the new revenge of the spurned lover? Are lawyers, as members of a profession that is surprisingly small and highly reputation-conscious, especially vulnerable to this tactic? Does this approach actually work?
After the jump, let’s look at the offense and the (over)reaction.
* There was serious shadiness at dissolved firm Heller Ehrman. Information coming to light during bankruptcy proceedings suggests that, in 2008, the firm distributed $9 million in profits that it did not have and then covered it up. [The Recorder]
* Paul Hastings nabs Central District of California U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien. [Associated Press]
* Canadian inmate wants cruel and unusual punishment. [Courthouse News Service]
* Kudos to Preet Bharara, the new U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Ashby Jones wonders whether he’ll “be able to play it straight as a prosecutor, and extricate himself from the muddy world of politics.” [New York Times via WSJ Law Blog]
* The system of justice in Myanmar lacks some justness. [CNN]
* Not so fast. Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York refuses to sign off on the Bank of America – SEC settlement. [Washington Post]
* Some tips on using a coffeehouse as your office. [My Shingle via ABA Journal]
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
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• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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