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]
* I would have no problem at all if potential SCOTUS justices had to answer this questionnaire and those answers had to be published and discussed during the confirmation hearing. [Daily News]
* Married men looking for sex slaves might want to consider the words of the wise Falstaff. Discretion is the better part of valor. [True/Slant]
* New Hampshire Governor John Lynch has some ideas about reelection religion. [Law Dork 2.0]
* New U.S. Attorneys have been named for New York and New Jersey. I suggest laid off associates start networking with these guys now. Remember, today’s U.S. Attorneys are tomorrow’s rainmakers. [City Room]
* Isn’t being forced to watch Maury Povich a clear violation of the 8th Amendment? I don’t mean liberal “whaaa, when I go to prison, sometimes they give me bad touches” violation. I mean a straight up, dress you in a bonnet and make you watch surveillance DVDs of your mom having sex with your stepdad, violation of the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. [Popsquire]
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
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.
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