Judicial Notice (11.25.23): Zero Tolerance
Benchslaps for Biglaw, bountiful bonuses at a boutique, a high-profile hire at Airbnb, and other legal news from the week that was.
Welcome to Original Jurisdiction, the latest legal publication by me, David Lat. You can learn more about Original Jurisdiction by reading its About page, and you can email me at email@example.com. This is a reader-supported publication; you can subscribe by clicking here. Thanks!
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent the day with extended family at my parents’ place, where my mother prepared a delicious multicultural feast featuring turkey and mashed potatoes alongside lumpia and pancit. I’m so grateful for family—both my literal family, especially our newest addition, and the metaphorical family that includes all of you, my readers, whom I can’t thank enough for your support.
Shortened by the holiday, the week was fairly quiet for me. On Monday, I joined Professor Arthur Hellman and Judge Jennifer Perkins for a webinar about the U.S. Supreme Court’s new Code of Conduct. I was also quoted in an excellent article by Patrick Smith for the American Lawyer about the future of my former firm, Wachtell Lipton, as Andy Nussbaum and Bill Savitt take over as co-chairs from Ed Herlihy and Dan Neff.
Now, on to the news.
Lawyers of the Week: George Conway, Michael Luttig, and Barbara Comstock.
On Tuesday, former Wachtell partner George T. Conway III, former Fourth Circuit judge J. Michael Luttig, and former congresswoman Barbara Jean Comstock (R-Va.) wrote a New York Times guest essay that went viral—in legal-nerd circles, at least. They used the prime real estate of the Times opinion pages to tout their newly formed Society for the Rule of Law Institute, which they describe as “an organization of conservative lawyers committed to the foundational constitutional principles we once all agreed upon,” including “the primacy of American democracy, the sanctity of the Constitution, and the rule of law.”
I know what some of my conservative readers are thinking right now: isn’t that just the Federalist Society? But the authors draw a sharp contrast between their Society and that other Society, alleging that FedSoc “has conspicuously declined to speak out against the constitutional and other legal excesses of Mr. Trump and his administration” and “has failed to respond in this period of crisis.”
I’ll have much more to say about the Society for the Rule of Law in a future post, so I’ll stop here. But if you haven’t done so already, read the Times op-ed to get a sense of what so many people are talking about—at least on #appellatetwitter, where reactions ran the gamut from enthusiastic support to harsh criticism to something in between.
In memoriam: Holly Maguigan, a lawyer and law professor best known for defending domestic-violence victims who took action against their abusers, passed away at 78. May she rest in peace.
Judge of the Week: Judge Ana Reyes.
Schadenfreude-loving lawyers are suckers for a good benchslap. So, not surprisingly, Judge Ana Reyes (D.D.C.) got lots of attention for a minute order in which she chastised two Biglaw partners for “immature sniping and sharp litigation practices.”
Judge Reyes’s order was a “good” benchslap in terms of it being harsh. But was it “good” as in justified? Let’s have a look.