The Expansion of the Supreme Court Bar:
Over at SCOTUSblog, Tom Goldstein has a post on the Supreme Court bar that is a must-read for folks interested in practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. Check it out.
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
Interesting. I would propose that large firms see collateral benefits to doing this sort of work -- in particular, prestige and name recognition -- even though these practices are highly dependant on individual stars who are prone to leave for whatever reason (e.g., government service), a feature that makes them unlike other sorts of work that big firms want to develop. And so perhaps the reason that the big NY firms aren't chasing this work is that they do not see the need to chase prestige and name recognition, already having it.
3.2.2006 3:18pm
your assumption that non-NY firms don't have prestige and name recognition is strange.
3.2.2006 3:49pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
I assumed no such thing.
3.2.2006 4:08pm
snowball (mail):
I think the reason the big NY firms aren't chasing this kind of work is that it isn't as profitable as other work they do, and they need high-margin work to justify the high costs of doing business (and retaining talent) in NY.

Appellate work doesn't require the ridiculous partner to associate leverage as, say, a nasty internal investigation with 50 witness interviews. And it doesn't generate the steady stream of billable hours as would a big antitrust litigation with 10 million documents to review. Even a complicated Supreme Court brief can be put together with a fairly small group of lawyers.
3.2.2006 4:45pm
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
I suspect that's true for most of the firms chasing this work.
3.2.2006 4:55pm
JustaThought (mail):
I think you guys are missing the boat on why NY firms don't get involved in the sweepstakes. And it's because you are assuming that firms are operated like profit-seeking business. They are, sort of, but they are also employee (partner) cooperatives and the prestige of being a firm with a big supreme court practice redounds to the benefit of partners socially and they are the ones that make the decisions.

The NY firms don't have Supreme Court practices because it doesn't make money and it doesn't have social benefits in New York. Having practiced in a big NY firm, it just isn't what partners think is cool -- hanging out with big businessmen and making money are.

The reason that I think going for a sociological explanation is necessary is that the business justification for ANY firm to have a Supreme Court practice is inane. The cases, for the most part, aren't worth that much -- big business disputes just don't make it to the court all that often. So, for such a practice to make sense, it has to be a loss leader -- either it brings in business or it makes it easier to recruit young attorneys. The first idea requires assuming that business clients are morons. The second makes sense, but it doesn't mean all that much. Wachtell, Cravath and the other NY big boys don't have any trouble recruiting talent and they don't offer attorneys the false hope that they'll be writing Supreme Court briefs.
3.2.2006 11:49pm