You Go Girl

Susana Lorenzo Giguere 2 DOJ Justice Department Above the Law blog.jpgIf you’re thinking of moving from private practice to government, you should be prepared to take a hit in perks as well as pay. Sure, your hours will be better — just avoid the S.D.N.Y. — and you might even get a free flu shot. But you won’t have the fancy offices, the swanky lunches, or round-the-clock support staff. Sometimes you’ll have to make your own photocopies.
It is not, however, all doom and gloom. In the past, Department of Justice employees got to enjoy four-dollar meatballs (plus $13,000 in brownies). And now we hear that for at least one DOJ diva, work was a day at the beach — quite literally.
From Al Kamen of the Washington Post:

[T]he acting deputy director of the [voting rights] section, Susana Lorenzo-Giguere, has been accused of collecting a $64 per diem, including on weekends and the Fourth of July, while spending half of June and most of July and August with her husband and kids at their beach house on Cape Cod.

The allegation, made to the department inspector general apparently by someone linked to the Boston regional office, was that Lorenzo-Giguere made “multiple” government-paid trips to the Cape and that she improperly said that “her presence on Cape Cod was necessary pending litigation in Boston,” which was in the courts over the summer….

The complaint also alleged that Lorenzo-Giguere “spent little time in Boston” this summer and did little work on the case. Also, what supervision and oversight she provided was done by phone to Boston while she “remained on the beach,” and she would have been able to do this from her office in Washington.

C’mon, folks — cut Susana some slack. Her kids needed her; building sandcastles is no easy task. And she probably looks great in a swimsuit, too.
More about Ms. Lorenzo-Giguere, after the jump.

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Porter Wilkinson J Harvie Wilkinson Above the Law blog.jpgNot too long ago, we said we had a “gut feeling” that some Supreme Court clerk hiring was going on (despite the Court being in recess). We were right.
Meet Porter Wilkinson. And don’t hate her because she’s beautiful. Or brilliant. Or rich. Or the daughter of a top feeder judge and frequent Supreme Court short-lister, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson (4th Cir.).
Or, for that matter, a future Supreme Court clerk. We hear that Judge Wilkinson’s daughter — yes, Porter is a girl’s name, if you’re a WASP — just landed an October Term 2008 clerkship with Chief Justice John Roberts. Congratulations, Porter!
Not surprisingly, we hear that the young Ms. Wilkinson is fairly conservative — in case you couldn’t have guessed that from the fact that she’s currently clerking for Judge Brett Kavanaugh (D.C. Cir.) (alongside the lovely, and recently married, Zina Gelman).
And where did we hear about Porter’s politics? From Judge Wilkinson himself!
In late July, we attended the excellent national convention of the American Constitution Society, in Washington, DC. Judge Wilkinson was on one of the panels. In thanking the ACS for inviting him, he noted that his son is a member of the liberal organization — but that he’s balanced out by his sister Porter, a card-carrying member of the Federalist Society. We bet the Wilkinsons must have interesting dinner table conversations.
Porter Wilkinson continues the trend of fathers and daughters who both clerked for the Court (as noted by Tony Mauro). See here.
Update: A tipster tells us, “FYI, Porter was an All-American lacrosse player at UNC. See here. Her husband [Christian Cook] was lacrosse Defenseman of the Year at Princeton and three-time national champion. Formerly of the Secret Service. See here. They got married this past summer in Charlottesville.”
With Porter Wilkinson added, the current list of OT 2008 clerks thus far appears after the jump.
Graduation Awards: Four in the Class of 2007: Porter Wilkinson [Virginia Law]
Carter Phillips’ Kin Is Alito Clerk [Legal Times]

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X Men small X Summers X Summer Associates Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgFor those of you who might be interested, here’s another version of yesterday’s story about the Bruised Booze Cruiser — a Kirkland & Ellis summer associate who got slugged by a local lass in Chicago (after getting drunk on the firm-sponsored booze cruise and calling said woman a “fat bitch”).

We actually received many accounts of this event. The one that we decided go with came from someone who was at K&E this summer and attended the events in question, so we viewed it as fairly reliable.

But here’s a second version, also from someone who claims to have been there. And we like it — in some ways, it’s even better than the original — so we’re passing it along.

According to our latest tipster, the Bruised Booze Cruisier (hereinafter “BBC”) was acting up even before the after-party where he got punched by a girl woman. From this second source:

[The BBC] had upset one big-time partner before ever getting to the bar that night (and, if the golf outing story is true, he had notes from two partners sent to recruiting). The cruise ship played music during the 3rd of July fireworks, and at one point, the “Imperial March” from the Star Wars movies came on.

The summer (maybe a big fan of the movies?) decided to narrate the song by attempting to recreate Darth-Vader-esque breathing noises. His wanting everyone to hear, though, meant the noises were less breaths and more zombie moans, which weren’t appreciated by the young children on board.

A senior partner near the summer, whose children were frightened and upset by the noises, wrote to recruiting about the guy before the story of the bar fight ever came out.

That’s pretty great — but there’s more. Check it out after the jump.

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X Men small X Summers X Summer Associates Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLabor Day has come and gone. But even though summer is unofficially over, we still have a few summer associate stories for you.
We heard lots of rumors about the Chicago summer who, as described by one source, “got decked by a girl” after a firm-sponsored, Fourth of July boat cruise. According to one version of the story, he showed up to work the next day black and blue.
After poking around, we’ve assembled what we believe to be a fairly reliable account of the incident. The black-and-blue part isn’t true, but the general outlines of the story are accurate:
1. Superhero name: The Bruised Booze Cruiser
2. Special power(s): Improvised musical composition; ability to take it on the chin, from a member of the fairer sex.
3. Summered: Kirkland & Ellis, Chicago, summer 2007
4. Claim to fame: From our tipster:

After the Fourth of July boat cruise, one of the summers tied one too many on. At the after-party, while passing a drink to a friend, he stuck it right across the face of a girl standing nearby.

Understandably annoyed, the girl said something sort of snarky. He responded by a signing an improvised song to her, which went something like, “Fat bitch, fat bitch, you are such a fat bitch.”

After he went on for about a minute, she decided she had had enough of his ditty. She emptied her drink over his head — then socked him in the jaw.

Awesome. We’re applying the “You Go Girl” tag to this post.
Find out the Booze Cruiser’s fate, both medically and professionally, after the jump.

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Nina Totenberg NPR Georgetown Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgYou know you’re a celebrity when everyone has an opinion about you. And by that standard, Nina Totenberg, who covers the Supreme Court for NPR, is definitely a celebrity. Ever since we first started writing about Ms. Nina, we’ve received tons of messages and stories about her.
We feel like we’re running confirmation hearings for La Totenberg — or maybe hearings to decide whether she should be reappointed dean of the SCOTUS press corps. Witnesses have been coming forward with alternating positive and negative accounts.
Since our last post was decidedly anti-Nina — excerpts from the memoir of John Hockenberry, a former NPR colleague of hers — it’s time for something positive. This message comes from one of Nina Totenberg’s current colleagues, Ari Shapiro:

I interned for Nina seven years ago, and I’ve been her colleague at NPR ever since. I have to disagree with the assertion that she’ll “ruin the career of anyone who crosses her.” I think Tom Goldstein and Jan Crawford Greenburg got it exactly right. Nina has been unfailingly kind, generous, and helpful to me. Because I cover the Justice Department and she covers SCOTUS, we work together all the time. My cubicle is just outside of hers (yes, she has a cubicle – no office, no couch), so I see her nearly every day. She has been an extraordinary mentor and colleague, and she is always supportive. Having seen seven years’ worth of her interns come and go, I know that most of them feel the same way.

I do agree with you on one point, though. Nina is utterly fabulous. I’ve never met anyone like her, and I mean that in the best possible way.

We thank Mr. Shapiro for these thoughts.*
So, after reading all about her, what do you think of Nina Totenberg? Take our reader poll, after the jump.

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Nina Totenberg small NPR Georgetown Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGEver since our original request for colorful stories about the delicious Nina Totenberg, the doyenne (or maybe the dean?) of the Supreme Court press corps, we’ve experienced an avalanche of anecdotes about this larger-than-life legal journalist.
We still have a few reports in the queue. Here’s the latest contribution:

Any discussion of Totenberg must include John Hockenberry’s recountings of her diva-like attitude around the NPR newsroom. He writes about her in his well-known memoir, Moving Violations. Note that Hockenberry implies Totenberg will ruin the career of anyone who crosses her. [Ed. note: YIKES.]

Go to Amazon and search for “Totenberg” in the book, John Hockenberry, Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence. Starting around page 174, you’ll read this…

If you haven’t tired of reading about Ms. Nina — we know we haven’t, but everyone’s different — check out the rest of this post, after the jump.

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Nina Totenberg NPR Georgetown Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgOur series of posts on that delicious legal diva, Nina Totenberg of NPR, has made the pages of the Washington Post:

A blog that labels itself a “legal tabloid” has been soliciting juicy anecdotes about NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg’s on-the-job behavior, but Totenberg says she’s just doing her job.

In a post on Above the Law authored by the blog’s editor in chief, David Lat, one anecdote describes the correspondent entering the Supreme Court’s press section moments before a morning session begins — and asking someone sitting in the front row to surrender the seat.

Totenberg gets her way, it says, “because nobody says no to Nina.”

But not so fast: Totenberg says that since she happens to be the dean of the Supreme Court press corps, she actually has an assigned seat — that nice one, right up front.

Who knew the Supreme Court press gallery was just like a high school cafeteria? On first Mondays we wear pink!
Totenberg’s complete comment, and our reaction, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nina Totenberg Wants A Bagel, Lightly Toasted, Lowfat Veggie Cream Cheese on the Side – Stat!”

Nina Totenberg NPR Georgetown Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe are still accepting your colorful anecdotes about Nina Totenberg, NPR’s legendary Supreme Court correspondent, and a celebrity within legal and media circles. Past installments appear here and here.
Today we have two more stories to offer, both variations on a theme. Here’s the first:

I really have to mention here a little semi-encounter I had with Totenberg during the day I covered the Scooter Libby trial. When I arrived, I sat down in a random spot — and quickly discovered that Ms. Nina had apparently managed to convince all the journos covering the trial that a certain portion of the court bench was her personal property.

Sadly, the trial did not go on further. I really wanted to sit in her chair!

We’re not surprised. It’s completely consistent with our second story — which you can check out, if you’re interested, after the jump.

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Rachel Brand Rachel L Brand Above the Law blog.jpgOkay, working at the U.S. Department of Justice may not be a party these days. But the recently announced, imminent departure of Assistant Attorney General Rachel L. Brand — her last day at the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy is July 9 — had nothing to do with recent controversies (contrary to some insinuations).
As tout le monde in D.C. legal circles knows, the fabulous Brand — known to some as the Prom Queen — was planning to step down for some time. The reason? She and her husband, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Cohn, are expecting a baby boy next month.
The lede of this Reuters report, while technically accurate, is therefore misleading. Thankfully, the Washington Post was more accurate:

[T]he Justice Department announced that Rachel Brand, assistant attorney general for legal policy, is resigning….

Justice officials said she plans to leave July 9 and stay at home with her first child, due this summer.

Brand, who worked on the renewal of the USA Patriot Act last year and the confirmation of two Supreme Court justices in 2005, is not known to have played a direct role in the U.S. attorneys’ removal.

“[N]ot known to have played a direct role” — maybe because she didn’t? If she had, rest assured that Chuck & Friends would have invited her over to Capitol Hill for a televised chat.

[D]epartment officials have said that Gonzales’s former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, asked her whether she might want to replace a Michigan prosecutor who was forced out. Though interested at first, Brand did not apply for the job.

Yes, Brand shrewdly did not throw her hat into that ring. As we previously noted:

In declining to be considered, Rachel Brand showed the excellent judgment that has taken her so far, so fast. Had Rachel Brand replaced Margaret Chiara, she would have been the victim of a mainstream media pile-on. The New York Times editorial board would have derided her as a Bush Administration political hack with no prosecutorial experience (albeit a hack with impeccable academic credentials, including Harvard Law School and a Supreme Court clerkship with Justice Kennedy).

So what’s next for Rachel Brand (in addition to a bouncing baby boy)? She’s rumored to be meeting with various private law firms — and any of them would be lucky to snag this young legal superstar.
Brand has devoted the past six and a half years of her career to government service. She leaves the Bush Administration even more highly esteemed, on both sides of the aisle, than when she came in. This is no small feat, given the controversies that have shaken the DOJ, as well as the highly partisan atmosphere currently prevailing here in Washington.
We congratulate Rachel Brand on her successful leadership of the Office of Legal Policy, and we wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors — including motherhood!
(Disclosure: We’d mention that we are friendly with Rachel Brand, but we know from past experience that many of you don’t like such disclaimers, which come across as shameless name-dropping. So we won’t.)
Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously identified Jonathan Cohn as Deputy Attorney General, rather than Deputy Assistant Attorney General (his correct title).
Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand Announces Departure [U.S. Dept. of Justice (press release)]
Bush Is Told to Justify Executive Privilege [Washington Post]
DOJ Loses Brand [The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]
Seventh official quits Justice Department [Reuters]
Justice Department Official Resigns [Associated Press]
Earlier: Rachel Brand: The Prom Queen Stays Out of Trouble

Oona O'Connell redacted balcony 3 small Playboy Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPG
Our email correspondence with the super-hot lawyer turned Playboy model, Oona O’Connell, continues.
A brief question-and-answer session, plus an uncropped version of this Oonalicious photo, after the jump.

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