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The Joy of Clerkship, Con't

A press release from Grove Press describes the forthcoming novel by Saira Rao (entitled "Chambermaid") this way:

The devil holds a gavel in this wickedly entertaining debut novel about a young attorney's eventful year clerking for a federal judge. Sheila Raj is a recent graduate of a top-ten law school with dreams of working for the ACLU, but law school did not prepare her for the power-hungry sociopath, Judge Helga Friedman, who greets her on her first day. While her beleaguered colleagues begin quitting their jobs, Sheila is assigned to a high-profile death penalty case and suddenly realizes that she has to survive the year as Friedman's chambermaid — not just her sanity, but actual lives hang in the balance. With Chambermaid, debut novelist Saira Rao breaks the code of silence surrounding the clerkship and boldly takes us into the mysterious world of the third branch of US government, where the leaders are not elected and can never be fired. With its biting wit and laugh-out-loud humor, this novel will change everything you think you know about how great lawyers, and great judges, are made.
I haven't read the book (it's not going to be released until Spring), so I have no idea whether and how Ms. Rao "breaks the code of silence surrounding the clerkship" and I'm a tad skeptical that this book will "change everything I think I know about how great lawyers and great judges are made."

But what's particularly interesting about this is that Ms. Rao was herself a law clerk for Judge Dolores Sloviter of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (according to the WSJ blog). Rumors have been circulating around Philadelphia for some time that Judge Sloviter has become, shall we say, a very difficult person to get along with (and to work for) in chambers. So my guess — and it is, to be sure, only a guess at this point &mdash is that this is a pretty thinly-disguised roman a clef, with Ms. Rao herself as the idealistic "Sheila Raj" and Judge Sloviter the "power-hungry sociopath, Judge Helga Friedman."

I suspect that this will cause quite a rumble in the rather insular and staid world of Philadelphia's legal establishment.

BobH (mail):
"I suspect that this will cause quite a rumble in the rather insular and staid world of Philadelphia's legal establishment."

And not a moment too soon.
1.5.2007 11:15am
Elliot Reed:
I'm a tad skeptical that this book will "change everything I think I know about how great lawyers and great judges are made."
While I don't know anything about Grove Press or how they intend to market this book, I suspect they didn't have law professors in mind when they wrote this blurb. The average American probably knows nothing about clerking.
1.5.2007 11:19am
Cornellian (mail):
I suspect the publishers want a "The Devil Wields a Gavel" type novel, complete with a movie adaptation starring Meryl Streep as the judge and Anne Hathaway as the idealistic clerk.
1.5.2007 11:25am
Anderson (mail) (www):
the rather insular and staid world of Philadelphia's legal establishment.

Is David Post *trying* to get bitch-slapped by Howard Bashman?
1.5.2007 11:44am
Donald Clarke (www):
Speaking of clerkship memoirs, readers may be interested to know that the so-called Code of Silence was broken years ago by Gangliang Qiao, a Chinese graduate of Georgetown Law School who in 1999 wrote "Xianzai Kaiting" (现在开庭) (The Court Is Now in Session), a very positive account of his clerkship with Douglas W. Hillman of District Court of Western Michigan. This book was extremely popular among Chinese law students.
1.5.2007 11:48am
Kovarsky (mail):
wow what an original sounding idea. lauren weisberger must be so jealous.
1.5.2007 12:03pm
anonVCfan:
Ms. Rao seems to one of those people who discovered shortly after law school that she shouldn't went for the wrong reasons. Amber Taylor explains the idea better than I could here and here.

Unfortunately, Ms. Rao blames the law profession rather than herself. Her first tantrum is in the New York Post, in which she extrapolates an industrywide "brain drain" from Cleary's failure to entertain her when she was an associate.

I suppose this book is a more creatively written tantrum about her clerkship. While I'll admit to being a little curious, I don't think I'll be buying the book anytime soon.
1.5.2007 12:11pm
CJColucci:
I had heard similar rumors about Judge Sloviter 25 years ago. I didn't know then, and don't know now, whether there was or is any truth to them, and have no opinion about their truth. I merely point out the existence of the rumors.
1.5.2007 12:20pm
U.Va. 2L:
Her first tantrum is in which she extrapolates an industrywide "brain drain" from Cleary's failure to entertain her when she was an associate.

That's an odd interpretation of the article, especially since she never once mentions her own experience or comes off as whiny.
1.5.2007 12:23pm
noah count (www):
@anonVCfan

I don't know enough about the new york big-law scene to know, but that NYP article seemed reasonable. Quoted some statistics, interviewed some people. Just like most other articles I read -- no idea if it's a one-sided hack job, but at least it doesn't seem egregious.

You have more data you'd like to share?
1.5.2007 12:29pm
The River Temoc (mail):
Unfortunately, Ms. Rao blames the law profession rather than herself. Her first tantrum is in the New York Post, in which she extrapolates an industrywide "brain drain" from Cleary's failure to entertain her when she was an associate.

Just where does she do that?
1.5.2007 12:46pm
AppSocRes (mail):
anonVCfan: I just read all your links and find no support for the aspersions you cast upon Ms. Rao. Maybe you ought to apologize.
1.5.2007 1:23pm
Anonymous coward:
Is someone (above) really describing Howard Bashman as a bitch? Do you think Howard Bashman looks like a bitch? Samuel L. would have something to say about that.
1.5.2007 1:33pm
Adam B. (www):
I interviewed in Judge Sloviter's chambers about a decade ago. She had a reputation then as well.

Still, it's unsporting to take the clerkship, and all the career advantages it entails, and then write about one's benefactor like that.
1.5.2007 1:46pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Anon, the bitch-nature runs the other way (look up "bitch-slap"). But maybe you just wanted an excuse to cite that great scene. I'm cool with that.
1.5.2007 1:47pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

I haven't read the book (it's not going to be released until Spring)


contact grove and get a review copy.
1.5.2007 1:55pm
blackdoggerel (mail):
Ooooh, a tell-all about a district court clerkship! The world has been waiting for this with baited breath.

The book sounds like the equivalent of 99% of blogs out there (VC excepted, of course) -- someone gracing the general populace with their particular gripes and not-especially-interesting commentary, not that anyone asked. And the "harried assistant" genre is getting a little tired.

Wake me when a Supreme Court clerk spills the beans. (Oh, wait, I guess some of them have.)
1.5.2007 2:03pm
Anonymous coward:
Anderson:
The latter.
1.5.2007 2:12pm
happylee:
I wonder if there is any truth to the myth that most (not all) women can't handle high-stress jobs because they "internalize" stress. Here, a female judge deals with stress of the job by being, well, a bitch; meanwhile, her female lawclerk handles the stress of working for a bitch by, well, blaming the entire profession. Over 50% of lawschool graduates are womyn. Does this bode well for the profession? Should there be special classes in law school to help teach women to view stress as men do and not internalize it? For example, critiques of Miss Associates brief should not be taken as a personal attack? Or, an attorney vigorously arguing a motion is not calling the court's intelligence into question?

Idle thoughts on a sunny Friday.
1.5.2007 2:19pm
anonVCfan:
I've got no information other than the article.

I'm merely suspicious of an article about a "brain drain" written by someone who is ostensibly one of the "brains." Perhaps it is unfair for me to lump her in with the whiny people, but there is a certain type out there, and I thought she had enough of the characteristics for me to make the call. The article struck me a certain way, and the consensus among 4 anonymous commenters seems to be that it shouldn't have.

I haven't changed my mind in the last hour or 2, but I have no additional information other than what's here and what's at Above the Law on this book.
1.5.2007 2:28pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I'm merely suspicious of an article about a "brain drain" written by someone who is ostensibly one of the "brains."

Whom else would you expect to notice?
1.5.2007 2:33pm
gorjus (mail) (www):
As a former appellate clerk, I'm all in for this book. I think the most noteworthy "clerk tell-all" may be the venerable "The Brethren," Woodward's tell-all about the 70's Supremes, which was heavily sourced by clerk interviews.

Recently Scott Turow had a multi-part story in the NYTimes Magazine about a gone-bad permanent clerk--it's been collected into a book as well.

I love how the non-legal trolls can't stay on topic because a) they're not sure what a clerk is, and b) they're so terrified of women this has to be about how they're bad, somehow. The only downside to the great Volokh Conspiracy--the maniac trolls.
1.5.2007 2:39pm
anonVCfan:
NALP, for one.
Firm recruiting staff
Those left behind
B-school admissions committees
Art supply stores in NYC
1.5.2007 2:40pm
James Dillon (mail):
anonVCfan,

Isn't seeking to undermine the conclusion of an article, which makes its case using statistics and interviews with the relevant professionals, by pointing out that its author might have had some ulterior motive a classic example ad hominem argumentation?
1.5.2007 2:52pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

I love how the non-legal trolls can't stay on topic because a) they're not sure what a clerk is, and b) they're so terrified of women this has to be about how they're bad, somehow. The only downside to the great Volokh Conspiracy--the maniac trolls.


but it allows us the sublime pleasure of basking in your utter correctness.

have pity; where else could such unworthies find it?
1.5.2007 2:55pm
Nonsequitur ipsa loquitur (mail) (www):
Well, I don't consider myself to be a troll, but can anyone seriously imagine a male ex-clerk writing a thinly-veiled, catty, tell-all about a male judge?
1.5.2007 2:57pm
Anon (D. Del. 2004):
While I agree that it is unwise to break the code and write a book such as Ms. Rao's, take it from someone who knows, Judge Sloviter is a mean, mean person. Any resemblance between Roa's "power-hungry sociopath, Judge Helga Friedman" and Delores Sloviter is likely intentional and, further, richly deserved.

Judge Sloviter is well-known among district court clerks within the Third Circuit for the stinging and unnecessarily harsh language she uses in opinions reversing or simply modifying lower court rulings (or at least that's what I've been told - wink, wink). She is considered something of a sadist who delights in inflicting paper-cut-precise digs without provocation. Her writing is intemperate and has the effect of demoralizing district judges who -- more often than not --work without the luxury of the lengthy periods of contemplation enjoyed by courts of appeals.

It is not surprising that she would behave in a manner that would induce a former clerk to pen a novel such as Roa's.

Nobody likes a bully.
1.5.2007 3:01pm
Witness (mail):
gorjus: "the non-legal trolls"

You mean the vast majority of the book-purchasing public? You may be "all in" for this book, but as you point out here, it's unlikely many other people will care. It's subject matter that few people find interesting presented in the format of a really tired genre.
1.5.2007 3:02pm
anonVCfan:
Mr. Dillon, it may be, but in this case I think it's warranted. She cites one statistic and a handful of quotes from lawyers and a sociology prof. She's probably right, but I don't find it terribly compelling. It looks like a puff piece, and for that reason I question her motivations for writing it. There are good and bad ad hominem arguments out there. Most are bad, but not all.
1.5.2007 3:03pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
but can anyone seriously imagine a male ex-clerk writing a thinly-veiled, catty, tell-all about a male judge?

Why, no.
1.5.2007 3:09pm
Room 237 (mail):
I clerked for a US Tax Court judge. No lives were in the balance, just money. The funniest things were the tax protesters, who in the 1990s were mostly far right wing moonbats. I am sure most now are far left wing anti-war moonbats.
1.5.2007 3:16pm
happylee:
Anon's description of the good judge created a stir in my nether regions. Back when I was a spreadsheet monkey, I worked for a montser bitch who, for whatever reason, was always like a pussycat with me. I yearned for her company off-duty. She was unlike most bitchy women in that she was bitchy as an expression of her innate superiority. ("I am surrounded by idiots" would've have sounded as pitch perfect and appropriate coming from her as much as it does coming from Steve Jobs.) There is something very attractive about a woman asserting her superiority.

Sadly, most women are bitchy not because they are godesses but because they are incompetent losers elevated to a position they would not hold but for the triumph of that vacuous claptrap known as feminism.

Anon, is the good judge a godess or goober? Just wondering.
1.5.2007 3:21pm
r78:
but can anyone seriously imagine a male ex-clerk writing a thinly-veiled, catty, tell-all about a male judge

Are you serious? I am not a student of the genre, but I have seen a few books (incl. the one linked to by Anderson.)

Also, if you read through any number of legal blogs, they often contain the sort of heavy-breathing gossip that would embarass the cast members of The View. You need look no further than the WSJ law blog (Peter Lattman looks like a male in the pictures) and several times a week he clucks about oh-so-interesting personnel changes at some Important Big Firm or other trivia.
1.5.2007 3:25pm
r78:

Sadly, most women are bitchy not because they are godesses but because they are incompetent losers elevated to a position they would not hold but for the triumph of that vacuous claptrap known as feminism.

Didn't I see you at the gender roles seminar retreat last week?
1.5.2007 3:27pm
Colin (mail):
The funniest things were the tax protesters, who in the 1990s were mostly far right wing moonbats. I am sure most now are far left wing anti-war moonbats.

I also love tax protestors. I have the same weird fascination with them that I have with creationists. A few months ago, I would have said that tax protestors are still overwhelmingly far-right nutjobs. The "America: Freedom to Fascism" documentary makes me think that they're reaching out to the far-left a little bit. For the most part, though, I think that movement is apolitical (at least in a practical sense). What ideological ties it has are more along the lines of separatist militias - so far removed from day-to-day politics that characterizing them is an exercise in arbitraryness. Fun, though.
1.5.2007 3:28pm
AppSocRes (mail):
For a friendly take on clerking for Judge Sloviter see http://www.cardozo.yu.edu/life/fall2002/clerkship/
1.5.2007 3:31pm
Carolina:
Back when I was clerking a few years ago, the most notorious "difficult" judge was rumored to be Eric Clay of the Sixth Circuit. I remember rumors that Yale, his alma mater, was dissuading its own students from clerking for him because previous clerks had had such bad experiences.

I never heard any Judge Sloviter stories, but maybe that's because I was on the west coast.
1.5.2007 3:32pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I don't see anything particularly unfair in Ms. Rao's NY Post article.

Her book sounds like it may have been inspired by real events or characters, but I am not sure that it is particularly unfair to her former judge (I reserve judgment on that). She didn't purport to write a work of non-fiction tell-all on her former judge (like Ed Lazarus did about his experiences as a Supreme Court clerk).

As an example, I just read Professor Stephen Carter's book, The Emperor of Ocean Park. One can certainly see similarities between the judge depicted (posthumously) in his book and Clarence Thomas, but that doesn't mean he did a hit job on Thomas, just that Carter borrowed some aspects of his personality, legal predilections, and biography to create a fictional character. Of course, the publisher's marketing hype does create a "judicial tell-all" impression, but that may be just marketing hype.
1.5.2007 3:32pm
Protagonist (mail) (www):
Not unbelieveable at all, and not just in "the insular and staid world of Philadelphia's legal establishment". After being around the block a little during and after law school, and can safely say that the American bar is infested with mental illness and antisocial behavior of varying degrees, which only get worse the higher up the ladder you go.

It makes sense. The very best lawyers are people who love arguing and accusing people of other things, who have always been smarter and harder-working than their peers (usually because they're driven by an inferiority complex), and who strain their brains with the same concentration of a chess-pro. Piled on those fragile psyches are huge responsibilities, dealing with beligerant people on a daily basis, narcissitic supply from achievement and prestige followed by the threat crushing multi-million dollar defeats, and enough money to buy all the pill, powders, babes and booze you may crave. The result: the profession most responsible for maintaining an orderly society is replete with paranoia and megalomania.

It's a cynical take on life, but it seems more applicable day to day. I'm getting sick of living in a world full of people who either don't look at the world logically or who let their psychological hang-ups influence huge business/professional/political decisions. When they build spaceships, I may move to planet Vulcan.
1.5.2007 3:34pm
Ubertrout (mail) (www):
Just as an aside, am I the only one who thinks the following sentence is seriously awkward?

"Sheila is assigned to a high-profile death penalty case and suddenly realizes that she has to survive the year as Friedman’s chambermaid — not just her sanity, but actual lives hang in the balance."

Shouldn't the clauses after the comma be reversed? Or perhaps another comma after "lives"?

Pedantry, indeed.
1.5.2007 3:35pm
Observer (mail):
Having encountered Judge Sloviter on numerous occasions, I can attest to her mean streak. I can also attest to her kinder side. Her colleagues on the Third Circuit will attest to the fact that she is a good judge -- even those who disagree with her, and some of them are (male) bullies, too.

Considering that Judge Sloviter had another law clerk -- Lisa Scottoline -- who became a successful writer, but who did not find it necessary to destroy her former boss, perhaps some thought should be given to Ms. Rao's motives and her personality defects.

It is indeed true that no one likes a bully, but no one likes an ungrateful brat either.
1.5.2007 3:48pm
sowellfan (mail):
My wife clerked for a magistrate in the southeast, and FWIW, her experience was horrible. It's not so much that clerking was bad, because other clerks in the courthouse had much less demanding judges (they left by 5 or 6, got to eat lunch, didn't generally work on weekends, etc.) My wife's judge/boss wasn't the smartest person I'd ever met, but he worked his clerks hard enough that I guess they made up for him. The funniest thing was that the senior clerk just walked out one day without a word to anyone. They figured that *maybe* he went to lunch, except they weren't really allowed time off for lunch breaks. It got more complicated when he wasn't back the next morning, and only came back two weeks later after the judge managed to track him down and beg him to come back.
1.5.2007 3:54pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
For a friendly take on clerking for Judge Sloviter see http://www.cardozo.yu.edu/life/fall2002/clerkship/


I knew several people who clerked for Sloviter. Most hated her, but I was told she always kept a "favorite" clerk -- this was always a male, and usually a fairly attractive one at that. She would give the favorite clerk special treatment, while treating the others like absolute dirt (thereby doing wonders for relations between the clerks).

Is this guy attractive?



Probably, if you're Judge Sloviter anyway! (Think 98-yr old version of Bride of Frankenstein.)

Normally I'd think this book to be a breach of common courtesy, not to mention confidentiality, but respect is a two-way street. From what I heard, Judge Sloviter left that street a long time ago...
1.5.2007 4:05pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
^^^ Whoops - Forgot link to the photo:

http://www.cardozo.yu.edu/faculty/estein/
1.5.2007 4:07pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
Dagnabbit...

Photo
1.5.2007 4:08pm
elChato (mail):
Writing is about imagination-- even if you had a GREAT experience clerking for a judge, if you were a good writer you could dream up a nightmare scenario about someone who was everything your judge was not.

It's pretty funny here, that this author clerked for someone who was not so great, and that even though she hasn't said this that I know of, the judge's reputation is such that this was immediately smoked out by lawyers . . .

/heads off to pull up some Sloviter opinions to see if she's as mean as some here have suggested
1.5.2007 4:30pm
SP:
This does not sound like a very compelling book, and it seens like a bad way for the author to get revenge.
1.5.2007 4:32pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
/heads off to pull up some Sloviter opinions to see if she's as mean as some here have suggested


The claim is that the judge is mean, not the clerks!
1.5.2007 4:37pm
Phil (mail):
I loved clerking, two-plus years for a state supreme court justice. I can think of few things duller than a book about the experience. A couple of good stories, but that is about it.
1.5.2007 4:44pm
Pete Freans (mail):
...rather insular and staid world of Philadelphia's legal establishment.

I prefer provincial, incestous, and archaic but I guess it depends on the work-week I'm having.
1.5.2007 4:56pm
CA3 (mail):
Sloviter is well-known on the Third Circuit (even to her colleagues) as a difficult boss for her clerks. She has fired clerks on multiple occassions, although often with cause (such as a clerk refusing to write an opinion with which s/he disagreed). She also has the reputation of having a favorite and least-favorite clerk. That said, she's a fine jurist.
1.5.2007 5:04pm
Room 237 (mail):
Colin:

The tax protestors I ran into when clerking were all uniformly far right wing nuts. Some skirted close to the militias. All threw out tired old lines about how Ohiop was not a state or wages were not income.

My experience was great as was the experience of most of my co-clerks. In fact, it probably was the most rewarding portion of my legal career.
1.5.2007 5:14pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
that guy is a horse face.
1.5.2007 5:18pm
Steve:
My source at the IRS tells me that the tax protestors are still far-right, although to be frank the dividing line between the left and right gets blurry as you get closer to the poles.
1.5.2007 6:20pm
Anon Y. Mous:

SP: This does not sound like a very compelling book, and it seens like a bad way for the author to get revenge.


What would have been a good way to get revenge, burn down her house?
1.5.2007 6:25pm
001:
"/heads off to pull up some Sloviter opinions to see if she's as mean as some here have suggested

The claim is that the judge is mean, not the clerks!"

========================================================

If you intend to imply that any sharpness in Judge Sloviter's written opinions is a mere product of the word choices of her clerks, you are quite wrong.

Contrary to the widely believed fiction, many (indeed, most) federal appellate judges write all or substantially all of their own opinions. Even for judges who allow their clerks to author first-drafts and more, if there is any sharp language to be found in an opinion, it has either been added by, or at least approved by, the judge.

Clerks like people to believe that they possess a bit more power than they actually do. However, a clerk penning the dissent in Bowers v. Hardwick is the exception, not the rule.
1.5.2007 6:48pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
The clerks' role in the drafting process depends on the judge, I don't think you can generalize too much one way or the other.

The district judge for whom I clerked deleted any critical comments that I or my fellow clerk put into drafts of his opinions. He said that it was a tough job being a lawyer and we shouldn't be too harsh on the lawyers, even when they advance frivolous arguments, at least not in writing. Having been a lawyer for 17 years, I now appreciate how mature and wise he was about such things.
1.5.2007 7:06pm
MS (mail):
Contrary to the widely believed fiction, many (indeed, most) federal appellate judges write all or substantially all of their own opinions

Judge? Is that you?
1.5.2007 7:09pm
James R Dillon (mail):
001,

I have no first-hand experience with the appellate courts (and I don't know from your comment whether you do), but I can say that, at least at the district court level, it is not unusual for memos written by clerks to become the written opinion with relatively little modification by the judge, especially in civil matters. That, at least, has been my experience and the experience of many other district court clerks with whom I have discussed the issue.
1.5.2007 7:12pm
Colin (mail):
All threw out tired old lines about how Ohiop was not a state or wages were not income.

Tired old line? I looked it up - Ohiop is not a state.

Everything else you said was right on.
1.5.2007 7:22pm
001:
Christopher Cooke accurately summarizes the experience of clerking for a good judge, at any level, when he writes:

The district judge for whom I clerked deleted any critical comments that I or my fellow clerk put into drafts of his opinions. He said that it was a tough job being a lawyer and we shouldn't be too harsh on the lawyers, even when they advance frivolous arguments, at least not in writing. Having been a lawyer for 17 years, I now appreciate how mature and wise he was about such things.
1.5.2007 7:30pm
Room 237 (mail):
Colin -- I need to remember, spell check is my friend.

James and 001 -- the Tax Court is a hybrid between district and appellate courts in that there are trials, but also everything was briefed and reviewed by the court (well almost everything, the tax protestors generally were ignored). Procedure depended on the judge. My judge let us write the first draft and then he would write and rewrite it. Often he came out differently from how his clerks did. Other judges reviewed things but generally let the clerks write the opinions. A few judges simply told their clerks how to decide and that they should write the opinion accordingly.

I suppose in all courts it is like that -- the procedure depends on the judge depends on the judge.
1.5.2007 7:34pm
Opus:
Contrary to the widely believed fiction, many (indeed, most) federal appellate judges write all or substantially all of their own opinions.

This is (perhaps) true for published opinions. Unpublished decisions, however, particularly those written without oral argument, are usually written by clerks.
1.5.2007 8:47pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
My remark was partly tongue in cheek.

It absolutely depends on the judge. However, I can tell you for certain that there is a non-negligible number of opinions - including published appellate opinions - that are written mostly by the clerks.

IMO, with a good judge it is a collaborative effort. A published opinion should go back and forth between the judge and clerk many times.
1.5.2007 9:23pm
AnonClerk:
Mahan Atma:

It can vary from opinion to opinion, too. Some opinions need a lot more back-and-forth than others, even if one is just talking about precedential appellate opinions.

Heck, some judges will write some of their first drafts themselves and publish them with little more than a quick read-through by the clerks, while publishing other opinions that their clerks wrote with hardly any modification.

The one constant, at least among halfway decent judges, is that the judge has carefully read and approved everything that goes out the door.

001:

I think the claim that "most" appellate judges do their own first drafts is overstated. Some regularly do, however.

Opus:

What you say about unpublished opinions being written by clerks is certainly the norm in a lot of appellate courts. In some, though--the Fourth Circuit comes to mind--the staff attorney's office does a lot of the run-of-the-mill ones.
1.5.2007 10:28pm
Lev:
The Devil Wears Wingtips?
1.5.2007 11:21pm
John Doe (mail):
Anyone ever read David Baldacci's book "The Tenth Justice"? It was a thriller that came out several years ago about a Supreme Court clerk who got ensnared into revealing insider info on one of the Court's important business cases. As I recall, the clerk was trapped in this way when some complete impostor called him up, pretended to be [John Smith] [not the real name from the book, but that's not importan], who had supposedly clerked for the same Justice years earlier, and the clerk then went out to lunch with Smith. Only later did the clerk find out that there had never been any former clerk named John Smith.

A ludicrous plot -- as if anyone would take the chance that the clerk wouldn't just mention to the Justice, "Hey, I got a call from John Smith," and then the whole scheme would have been exposed.
1.6.2007 11:10am
sorry, charlie:
Brad Meltzer, a graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia Law School, actually wrote The Tenth Justice. It is more than kind to describe the book as "not good."

David Balducci is also a writer.
1.6.2007 4:41pm
sorry, charlie:
"Baldacci", that is.
1.6.2007 4:42pm
she's got one fan (www):
In 1986, Scottoline stepped away from practice to raise her daughter and to begin writing her first novel. But an unforeseen divorce from her husband pushed Scottoline into circumstances worthy of dramatic fiction. She was suddenly a single mother, unemployed and living on credit cards in hope that a publishing deal would come through.

When she hit her self-determined debt limit in 1991 and there was no publishing deal in sight, Scottoline applied for a clerk position she had heard the Hon. Dolores K. Sloviter (L’56, Chief Judge of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals) had open for a woman or man in a career transition.

“I begged her for the job. When she gave it to me I had to keep myself from bursting into tears. Judge Sloviter saved my butt. I was a single mother – I couldn’t work full-time. She changed my life. She’s done so much for women that I don’t think people know enough about.”

One month later Scottoline sold her first book to a publishing house. But it would take two years before she would believe the success of that novel was here to stay and she quit her job in order to write full-time. “Everywhere That Mary Went” was nominated in 1994 for a prestigious Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for best original paperback. But it would be her second novel, “Final Appeal” that would garner her the award.

“Final Appeal” is set in the Third Circuit. Judge Sloviter hosted a signing party at her chambers to celebrate that book’s publication. She invited all the judges of the Third Circuit and ordered that they had to buy the book if they attended. “I was signing books for Third Circuit Court justices!” Scottoline exclaims with remaining awe at the change in her fortunes. “The first book signing of my life was in that court!”
1.6.2007 8:24pm
John Doe (mail):
Sorry to Baldacci! Yes, it was Brad Meltzer who inflicted that book on the world.
1.6.2007 10:30pm