Judicial Notice (01.28.23): Going Viral
A Columbia Law prof drops the F-bomb, a judicial nominee has a very bad day, and other legal news from the week that was.
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I usually begin Judicial Notice, my weekly legal news roundup, with a brief personal update. This week, though, I don’t have anything to report. To those of you who have complained about the personal stuff, this is your lucky week—I’m plunging straight into the news, of which there’s a good amount.
Lawyer of the Week: Alexander “Sandy” Thomas.
A Biglaw leader leaving their firm to work for a nonprofit is not something you see very often. So Sandy Thomas stepping down as global managing partner of Reed Smith to become the first chief legal officer of Kids in Need of Defense (“KIND”), a nonprofit devoted to protecting unaccompanied and separated children entering the United States as migrants or refugees, garnered significant media coverage. As he told Gina Passarella Cipriani and Dan Packel of the American Lawyer, he felt this “unexpected opportunity” was “too important to pass up,” and he’s at a point in his career when he hopes “to contribute in a different way.”
Thomas is only 56, and he’s leaving in the middle of his third four-year term as managing partner—a seemingly successful tenure, in which Reed Smith’s revenue and profit increased significantly. This led Jenna Greene of Reuters to wonder: was he possibly pushed out of the 1,700-lawyer firm? He denied that, and multiple members of firm leadership confirmed his account. According to Carol Loepere, global chair of Reed Smith’s business and finance department, “The partnership did not ask Sandy to leave the firm. This was solely his decision, and we support him 100 percent.”
James Sandman—who left Arnold & Porter in 2007 after 30 years, including a decade as managing partner, to become general counsel of the D.C. Public Schools—told Greene that he has no regrets about his own move out of Biglaw: “You can be very happy not making millions of dollars a year. If more people made moves like the one [Thomas] is making, I think law would be a happier profession.”
Congratulations to Sandy Thomas on his new role, and good luck to him as he transitions from Biglaw to public interest. His move is a salutary reminder that we’re in control of our own careers. If there’s something out there that you think you’d find more fulfilling than what you’re currently doing, and you can make it work as a practical matter (e.g., financially), then don’t be afraid to explore it.
In law-and-politics news, Donald Trump is gearing up for his third White House bid, and his lawyers are still making headlines. In the New York Times, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner wrote about what they described as “internal dissent and ethical disputes” in special counsel John Durham’s meta-investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation. Meanwhile, the California State Bar announced that it will seek to disbar Professor John Eastman, a leading legal architect of Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
In law school news, a Columbia Law School adjunct professor went viral—and not in a good way. Check out the video:
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