White House Counsel

White House small Washington DC Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGYes We Can…. Hire lots and lots of Supreme Court clerks?

In prior posts (here and here), we reported on the impressive legal team that President Barack Obama has assembled to staff key positions in his administration. Like many of the Bush Administration lawyers they’re replacing, the Obama lawyers have impressive pedigrees: degrees from top law schools, often with honors and/or law review experience; impressive clerkships, including many SCOTUS clerkships; and stints at leading law firms (but with WilmerHale and Williams & Connolly replacing Gibson Dunn and Kirkland & Ellis as the feeder firms).

Several legal superstars are making big financial sacrifices to go into government service. They can expect low six-figure salaries as government lawyers, a far cry from the seven figures that some of them — not the law professors, but the Biglaw partners — earned in the private sector. As reported by Ken Vogel over at Politico:

Eric Holder, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, will get a separation payment from his firm, Covington & Burling, of between $1 million and $5 million, plus a share of the firm’s profits from this year “based on work performed through date of separation,” and a repayment of between $500,000 and $1 million from the firm’s capital account…. [Holder] earned $3.3 million last year as partner.

Jeh Johnson, Obama’s nominee to be the Pentagon’s top lawyer, would get a severance of between $1 million and $5 million from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, an international law firm. He’ll also get his $200,000 capital investment back from the firm, which paid him $2.6 million last year as a partner.

For more details — e.g., how much Eric Holder and Jeh Johnson’s retirement plans and pensions might be worth — see Politico.

In our earlier hiring round-ups, we missed a few names. Many tipsters came forward to fill in the blanks.

Learn about the latest legal eagles to land in the Obama nest, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: More Additions to the White House Legal Dream Team”

White House small Washington DC Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGLast night we wrote about some of the top-notch talent that will be filling senior legal positions in the Obama Administration. These are big names, and you probably also read about them in big publications, like the Legal Times or the Wall Street Journal.

ATL is willing to drill down deeper. We now bring you personnel news at more junior levels. If you graduated law school in the past 15 or even 10 years, you might actually know some of these people.

Our prior post focused on two of the most prestigious parts of the Department of Justice: the Solicitor General’s office, and the Office of Legal Counsel. We now turn our attention to two other top offices: the White House Counsel’s office, and the office of the Deputy Attorney General.

Over 300,000 people applied for 3,300 positions in the Obama administration. After going through a ridiculous screening process, these fine folks landed 20 of the most coveted legal jobs in the country.

See if you know any of them, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: The Obama White House Counsel’s Office
(And ODAG picks, too.)”

Mr_Easter_Bunny.jpgSome of you have wondered about the delay in choosing finalists for the ATL Caption Contest. We did not forget about it; we just wanted to save a little Easter for April, the proper month for the holiday. Easter in March is just plain wrong.
As a refresher, this is the photo of President Bush and his White House Counsel — Fred Fielding, former senior partner at Wiley Rein (fka Wiley Rein & Fielding), dressed up as the Easter Bunny — at the White House Easter Egg Roll last month. Without further ado, out of 200 comments, these are our ten finalists. [FN1]
A. “I left a firm with over $4 million in PPP to do THIS???” -Anonymous
B. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare discuss the legality of waterboarding the Dormouse. -Klerk
C. “Mr. President, I wanted to let you know that I put the last of those White House e-mails down the rabbit hole.” -Anonymous
D. Yeah, well, nobody wants to be the guy that told the POTUS there is no Easter Bunny and Cheney said that if I play along I’ll get a Supreme Court nomination. Hey, whatever happened with that Harriet woman? -Anonymous
E. I dressed up in this bunny suit and all I got was a feature on ATL. -Anonymous
F. After ignoring the rule of law for seven years, President Bush finally found a use for the White House Counsel. -Anonymous
G. “Someone please tell me that’s not a wombat behind me.” -Anonymous
H. I guess that answers the question of whether its better to get a JD or an MBA. -Anonymous
I. Fred (thinking): “That f-n headhunter promised me I would be supporting the President on matters of national importance. G-d D-MN it!” -Anonymous
J. George: Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
Bunny: Why do you wear that stupid man suit? -133t
We invite you to vote for the winner after the jump. Poll closes at midnight tomorrow.
[FN1] There were many funny comments, but we exercised a bias in favor of those with a legal connection.
Earlier: ATL Caption Contest: Mr. Easter Bunny, White House Counsel Fred Fielding
The rabbit behind the man: White House counsel Fred Fielding [Washington Post]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Caption Contest Finalists: Mr. Easter Bunny and POTUS”

Here’s a photo of President Bush and his White House Counsel — Fred Fielding, former senior partner at Wiley Rein (fka Wiley Rein & Fielding), dressed up as the Easter Bunny — at the White House Easter Egg Roll earlier this week:
Fred Fielding Easter Bunny White House Counsel Fred F Fielding Above the Law blog.jpg
Quips our tipster: “One can only hope Fielding isn’t splitting hares. Or giving hare-brained advice.”
Okay, you’re groaning. Think you can do better? Then enter the ATL caption contest. Same rules as before:

We welcome your suggested alternative captions, in the comments. Assuming sufficient response, we’ll take our favorites, incorporate them into a poll, and hold a caption contest.

We doubt we’ll receive as many submissions as we did for our last caption contest. But we’re going to limit the entries this time: we’re closing the comments if and when we hit the 100-comment mark. So if you’d like to enter the contest, don’t delay. Thanks.
Update (2 PM): Okay, we’ll let it get up to 200 comments. We especially appreciate suggested captions that are in some way law-related. What makes this picture relevant to ATL is the fact that the man in the bunny suit is President Bush’s chief lawyer (and a former name partner of a leading D.C. law firm).
If we just wanted to post a random, funny photo of the president with the Easter bunny, we would have used this one.
Update (4:50 PM): You seem to be having a lot of fun with this, so we will keep the comments open indefinitely. But in picking the finalists, we will focus on comments that have a connection to the legal profession (as opposed to comments that are more politically oriented or simply random).
Update (3/31/08): Thanks for all the excellent entries. The comments section is now closed.
The rabbit behind the man: White House counsel Fred Fielding [Washington Post]
Bush Hugging Bunny [Wonkette]

Michael Mukasey Chief Judge Michael B Mukasey SDNY Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve done relatively little about the nomination of former judge Michael Mukasey to serve as attorney general. While the WSJ Law Blog was dredging up his third-grade book reports — okay, not quite, but some college newspaper articles that he may or may not have written — we didn’t have much. But now we’d like to atone for that, with a piece we just did for the New York Observer.
We speculate that Michael Mukasey might be in D.C. longer than he might expect, especially if his good friend Rudy Giuliani wins the presidency (and possibly even if fellow New Yorker Hillary Clinton does). We discuss how he might have come to be picked as AG, despite not being a D.C. denizen like Ted Olson, Laurence Silberman, or George Terwilliger:

Mr. Mukasey was simply more of a known quantity to the White House than the typical Beltway outsider. The White House staff includes three former assistant U.S. attorneys from Manhattan, as well as other ex-New York lawyers who regularly practiced before Mukasey as a judge. Among the New Yorkers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Mukasey enjoyed great respect, and was viewed as ideologically acceptable too, especially on war on terror issues.

The rest of the piece, including a discussion of what might be called the Curse of the Southern District (from President Bush’s point of view), is available here.
Mr. Mukasey Goes to Washington [New York Observer]
An Old Friend Joins Giuliani in a Spotlight [New York Times]

Laura Ingraham.jpgLawyers are living large, not just in Miami and New York, but in Washington, too.
The Luxury Homes column, in the current issue of Washingtonian magazine, features the recent real estate purchases of two prominent lawyers. First up: political and legal commentator Laura Ingraham, who has a pretty amazing resume (UVA Law, Clarence Thomas clerkship, Skadden), especially by radio personality standards:

Conservative pundit and radio host Laura Ingraham sold a three-bedroom, four-bath Colonial rowhouse on 28th Street in Woodley Park for $1.3 million. Built in 1922, the renovated home has an in-law suite, two kitchens, and a skylit master bedroom. The Laura Ingraham Show is broadcast on 340 radio stations nationwide.

Very nice. Next up: another conservative legal celebrity, Fred Fielding:

White House counsel Fred Fielding and his wife, Maria, sold a five-bedroom, six-bath Colonial in Arlington’s Country Club Hills for $1.8 million. The house has embassy-size entertaining rooms. Before joining the Bush administration in January, Fielding was a senior partner at Wiley Rein (formerly Wiley Rein & Fielding).

Despite the “embassy-size entertaining rooms,” a sub-$2 million house seems a tad underwhelming, especially for a former name partner of 2006′s most profitable law firm. Are the Fieldings trading up to bigger digs?
Using a combination of internet resources, we tracked down what we believe to be the houses in question, on Zillow. You can check out the listings, with pics, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: A Report from D.C.”

Earlier we covered Harriet Miers impending date with destiny in the form of the House Judiciary Committee. Well, it looks like Miers needed some more time to polish up on her French.
From the report from AP via the Reno Gazette-Journal on the hearing that went down sans Miers:

A House panel cleared the way Thursday for contempt proceedings against former White House counsel Harriet Miers after she obeyed President Bush and skipped a hearing on the firings of federal prosecutors.
Addressing the empty chair where Miers had been subpoenaed to testify, Rep. Linda Sanchez ruled out of order Bush’s executive privilege claim that his former advisers are immune from being summoned before Congress.

The contempt issue would go next to the full Judiciary Committee, and ultimately to the entire House.
You at least have to admire Miers for going all the way in following Bush’s order, instead of the I’m-testifying-but-not-really tapdance that Sara Taylor attempted yesterday.

One of the biggest legal and political stories today is the congressional testimony of Sara Taylor, former White House political director. Taylor declined to answer a number of questions, based on executive privilege.
We’ll leave substantive discussion of the Taylor testimony to others, and focus instead on matters of style. From a tipster:

“Check out this photo essay. I don’t mean to sound catty, but shouldn’t she have used Monica Goodling’s stylist?”

Sara Taylor Testimony Senate Judiciary Committee Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPG
We agree wholeheartedly. Screw executive privilege — what about stylist’s privilege?
We comment on some of the Sara Taylor photos, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Sara Taylor Testimony: A Photo Essay”

Harriet Miers Harriet E Miers Harriet Ellan Miers Harriet Elan Miers Above the Law.JPGWe recently got to meet former White House counsel Harriet Miers, up close and personal. And it seems we’re not the only folks who will get to spend quality time with the onetime (and ill-fated) Supreme Court nominee.
This just in, from the AP:

Two congressional committees are issuing subpoenas for testimony from former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor on their roles in the firings of eight federal prosecutors, according to two officials familiar with the investigation….

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont issued Taylor’s subpoena for her testimony July 11. His counterpart in the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan, issued a subpoena for Miers’ testimony the next day.

A little bit more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Harriet Miers: Her Date With Destiny”

Some hiring news from the White House counsel’s office, via the WSJ Law Blog:

Kate Todd Kate Comerford Todd Kathryn Todd Kathryn Comerford Todd.jpgThough many of these White House hires have been reported already elsewhere, its press office issued an official release — dateline “Rostock, Germany” — announcing nine lawyers White House Counsel Fred Fielding has added to his “great little law firm.”

President Bush has named J. Michael Farren, former general counsel of Xerox, to succeed William Kelley as deputy counsel. Kelley is returning to Notre Dame University later this month. Farren has long ties to the Bush family. He served in various roles under Bush I.

New special counsels are William Burck, who’s returned to the White House from the DOJ, and Emmet Flood, who comes from Williams & Connolly. The six new associate counsels are Kate Todd (pictured), Amy Dunathan and Al Lambert, all from Fielding’s old firm, now called Wiley Rein (it dropped the Fielding); Scott Coffina, formerly a partner at Montgomery McCracken in Philly; Francis Hoang, an associate at Williams & Connolly and Michael Purpura, a top aide to deputy AG Paul McNulty. McNulty resigned amid the controversy over the firing of U.S. Attorneys.

A fun factoid: France Hoang is one of D.C.’s most eligible bachelors, according to Washingtonian magazine. And he snagged that honor even before landing the coveted credential of a White House perch.

Personnel Announcement [White House]
White House Staffs Up Its “Great Little Law Firm” [WSJ Law Blog]
France Hoang, 32 [Washingtonian]

Earlier: Musical Chairs: Fred Fielding Beefs Up the White House Counsel’s Office
Prior ATL coverage of the White House Counsel’s Office (scroll down)

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