Who Are You, Lawyers and Law Students?

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Every year or so, I ask you folks this, so I thought I'd do it again now. Tell us a bit about yourselves, if you are a lawyer or a law student; if you're not, please respond on the other thread.

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  1. First-year attorney and public defender! I couldn’t be happier with what I’m doing. I’ve been following VC since 2010 and wouldn’t have even considered law school if not for the inspiring writers I found here.

    1. A lot of people really do seem to enjoy that job.

      What do you like most about being a public defender?

    2. I am a 3rd-year law student at National Law University, India. Quite fascinated by the legal domain, I am currently involved in writing research papers for impactful journals. I constantly follow VC. It’s amazing. Thanks.

    3. My name is Christopher Breton. I am a practicing attorney in Tampa, Florida with 8 years experience. My practice includes business law, contract law and litigation, real estate law and litigation, community association law, and trust. I have been reading your blog for a while and appreciate all of your hard work.

  2. 2L at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law hoping to work with The Institute for Justice after law school and hopefully working with them one summer

    1. Good luck! That would be an amazing gig.

      1. The Institute for Justice does a lot of good work. I say that even though I may not agree with their overall philosophy.

  3. nonlegal background. Not that it matters when it comes to knowledge let alone respect for the law if this place has taught me anything.

  4. I’m a small town public defender. I’ve been a lawyer for 33 years

  5. 23.5 years active duty USAF Judge Advocate followed by 2.5 years as municipal prosecutor and 27.5 as municipal judge. Recently retired.

    1. Of the three jobs, which did you like best?

  6. I am an addiction-psych tech, podcaster and advocate for people with serious mental illness.

  7. I teach undergraduate law-related courses (Law of Economic Crime, and Cybercrime Law and Investigations) and have long enough to be recognized as a Professor Emeritus. I am an avid reader of the blog and occasional commenter. If I we to classify myself, I think Libertarian would be the closest.

  8. I am an attorney living in Seattle and working in Bellevue, Washington. I graduated from Harvard Law School in 2004, clerked for the late Robert E. Keeton when he was a Senior Judge with the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and then came back out to Washington State (where I went to high school). I focus my practice on real estate, commercial, and intellectual property disputes and litigation as well as trademark prosecution. I have a wife and four children.

    1. I had Judge Keeton for Torts at HLS in 1978. He was a great teacher and then a great judge.

  9. I’ve been a practicing lawyer for what will be 16 (!!!!) years come October. I spent half of that as a public defender in both a rural area of the state and an urban area. I was a prosecutor for a local police department for 3.5 and now prosecute for the largest county in the state. I have also practiced family/marital law (for about ten months) and did Domestic Violence Policy work for 3.5 years.

    1. Both a public defender and a prosecutor?

      Is it common to make this jump? Do you think your previous work as a public defender makes you a better prosecutor? Would public defenders benefit from having been prosecutors previously?

      How is family law treating you?

  10. Lawyer for more than 15, less than 25 years. Work for the government now, but worked in private practice civil litigation for many years.

  11. Over many years I’ve accumulated many papers – the latest being Criminal law and the Law of Evidence, the only ones not motivated by issues encountered while working as an engineer. I should finish this thing but legal practice remains remote; the local Bar Association rules prevent crediting any papers I passed more than a decade ago. I’d have to re-sit the exams, at three different law schools; probably not even possible.

  12. Former corporate & commercial attorney who burned out working for a real bastard at a boutique firm. Took a few years off and now clerking for a county court and absolutely loving it. Instead of getting frustrated about ridiculous court decisions I get to help ensure they come out right (i.e., based on the law, not emotional whims). It’s not my endpoint, but a great restart.

    1. Working for a boss with a personality that does not fit your own is often not a good use of time, because differences can be very stressful for the person with less power. I am glad you got out of that situation.

      The most common scenario is that you should have left sooner, if possible.

  13. I am: Georgetown Law graduate (where I got to study with Randy Barnett); professional actor and arts instructor; published playwright; a Texan; a verb; a nerd; first amendment absolutist; South Park fan; a business immigration attorney at a university health sciences center; and so grateful to the writers here for both sharing my perspective and introducing me to new ones. (Also for providing a place for me to nerd out for a decade.)

    1. I am also drawn a little towards absolutism when it comes to rights. It seems to me that if you are going to carve out a bunch of exceptions, then maybe all the law becomes is reasonableness review.

      The more exceptions you carve out, and the less the thing is starting to look like a right and the more confusing the law becomes. Also, if the law is confusing, then people really can’t identify when their rights are violated very easily. And they don’t know how they can behave.

      That said, I think I like strict scrutiny rather than being TRULY absolutist.

    2. I suspect there are quite a few 1A absolutists here. It’s a nice refuge.

  14. been practicing environmental law for 36 years and have taught environmental law as an adjunct for 24 years

  15. Judicial staff attorney at a state trial court.

  16. Union-side labor lawyer in a large East Coast city. Almost retired about about 40 years of practice, but will probably continue doing pro bono public interest stuff.

  17. As in years past, Berkeley Law grad, Amlaw 100 partner, regular reader and sometime commenter for many years. Now approaching retirement, held back primarily by the feeling that it would be unmanly to retire before age 65.

    1. Retirement doesn’t need to mean you don’t do anything with your time. You could do pro bono stuff or fight for some cause you care about. Or, you could do something interesting non-law related.

      It doesn’t really too much if you don’t retire as long as you like your job. But, remember, you only live once. Time is, by far, your most valuable asset. Spend it wisely.

  18. UCLA Law grad, federal prosecutor

  19. Emory Law grad. First-year lawyer and law clerk for a new federal district judge this past year. Still a little shaky about what I’m doing next in this COVID job market.

    1. I kind of feel as though with that great law school and the federal clerkship under your belt, that you won’t have too much of a hard time.

      But, let me guess. You didn’t get this far without worrying about things, right?

  20. Judicial staff attorney for more than 3 decades. Semi-retired.

  21. Practicing lawyer in his 15th year of practice. Practice civil litigation at a Minneapolis-based law firm. Been reading the blog since I was a 1L – long enough to occasionally think that I owe Orin Kerr a beer.

  22. Partner at an Atlanta law firm practicing entertainment law (USD LAW grad class of 04).

  23. Solo qui tam attorney (False Claims Act) and Braves/Dogs fan.

  24. I’m sure I’ve answered this once or twice over the years but … former Amlaw 100 partner now Asst GC at a mid size NYSE listed company, mostly focusing on M&A and securities law. Georgetown Law grad and practicing for about 25 years now. Been a reader of the blog since Juan Non Volokh was a contributor.

    1. Juan Non Volokh was the worst.

      He got fired from his non-paid job at the VC. Replaced by Jonathan Adler who is SO much better.

      1. To the person who is going to make a snarky comment in reply to the above comment.

        Consider yourself trolled!

  25. 15 years private practice. 3 years part time municipal prosecutor. 21 years policy analyst Medicaid law.

  26. Involuntarily retired law professor, tinkering with a solo practice in a small town far from civilization until retirement age actually arrives.

    1. Look into suing colleges on behalf of aggrieved students — they tend to be complicated suits which is why no one wants to do them, but academic administrators are so arrogant that they almost inevitably paint themselves into a corner.

    1. Oh, that is WHY you have no theory of jurisprudence.

  27. Assistant professor of law, former Biglaw. Following VC since way back in the volokh.com days when I was a lowly law clerk.

  28. Retired. Stanford. Practiced antitrust & professional liability in securities for about 25 years. Adjunct law faculty. Taught philosophy before law. Practiced solo, small firm, big firm (international).

  29. Lawyer for 23 years. Criminal defense and consumer bankruptcy.

  30. Poor country lawyer in Texas. Briefly a prosecutor, which I hated. Mostly criminal defense since. A few years ago I shut down my practice to return home to care for ailing parents. Was about to jump back in, when COVID hit. So, the sabbatical continues (though I have one open case that’s dragged on since 2016).

  31. Am I in the right thread? Could go either way I guess. Started in logic, computer linguistics and theoretical philosophy, got into legal expert systems before it was cool (well, just when it stopped being cool last time round) and have been academic at a law school for the past 23 years or so, covering both legal tech and technology regulation. Still feel like an anthropologist among the lawyer tribe (and surreptitiously taking notes, so you have been warned)

  32. M/34
    General counsel for a consumer protection company for three months (before attorney for 7 years – mostly M&A, tax and project finance) in Hungary.

    Graduated from ELTE, currently teach tax law at a minor university at Budapest.

  33. Retired attorney teaching legal writing courses as an adjunct.

  34. General counsel for an international manufacturing company after being a trial attorney in Massachusetts for 30 years. Graduated from HLS in 1981.

  35. I am a legal aid attorney and have been a member of the bar for over 30 years. This is a nom-de-plume, as I do not want to be seen to be speaking for my organization. Many years ago, before VC, I used to correspond directly with Eugene and was always honored that you took time to do that.

  36. Government lawyer for last 16 years after 20 years of private practice. Ardent anti-Federalist!

    1. Which modern political party most resembles the Federalist Party?

      I would argue that it is the Democratic Party. Yet, most people who are members of the so-called Federalist Society likely vote Republican (or Libertarian).

      Go figure!

  37. 15ish-year lawyer, appellate prosecutor in Texas

  38. Practicing as an attorney for 20 years with a nonprofit firm that deals exclusively with homeschool law. I did my law school through correspondence (thank you, California, for that option) while working at my current firm. I think this may be my first comment on this blog, but I’ve been following it at least since it was on the Volokh.com site.

    1. I think California has the best options for becoming a lawyer.

      The real problem with it might be if you ever wanted to move outside of the state.

  39. Emory law grad lucky enough to have Sasha Volokh as a professor for several courses. Biglaw in Atlanta, in my fourth year of practice after clerking for a federal district court judge out of law school.

  40. 30+ as lawyer. In house counsel, mainly real estate.

    1. I’m always glad when Eugene does this annual post. I was not expecting an extended legal career from you, so my apologies for that inference.

      1. I can relate.

        When I strongly disagree with someone, I think, how can they possibly be a lawyer.

        And I think people sometimes think the same thing about me.

  41. First year clerking out of law school. I started following volokh.com and Professor Blackman’s blog when I externed on the Ninth. I’m always thankful for the hot takes.

  42. Civil litigator for 11 years now. Partner at a small firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. Been following the Conspiracy since I was in law school. And I’m pretty sure I owe Orin a beer for some reason. I’m definitely more liberal than most of the writers but am probably a moderate. Dr. Ed would probably think I was a Marxist and the Rev. would think I’m a clinger.

    1. What is this about people thinking they may owe Orin specifically a beer specifically? (Wild guess: You owe a fellow lawyer a beer if they tell you someting that helps you win a case; and Orin does a lot of this).

  43. Attorney, retired 10 years, former corporate counsel with 30 years experience selecting and working with many experienced and pragmatic lawyers across the US and many countries. Solving problems – legal and other – made me appreciate the law, legal thinking and the immeasurable value of learning from the best.

  44. Licensed 33 years ago, law is my second career. (I went to law school after conceding that I’d never get a tenure track job in an English Department.) With the exception of 5 years as Legal Director of our ACLU affiliate, I’m always been a criminal defense lawyer, primarily appeals, with a special focus on capital defense. I’m a public defender these days.

  45. Appellate staff counsel for over a quarter of a century. And not a libertarian but I enjoy intelligent debate from many different perspectives.

  46. Graduated Law School over 12 years ago. Been at same small law firm (4 attorneys) for almost 11 years doing mainly real estate, matrimonial, and wills/trusts/estates. Had one VC poster as a Professor in Law School. Sibling had at least one other VC poster as a Professor when sibling was in Law School.

  47. Retired civil litigator, former go-fer for Dean Prosser. Have better dumb/malicious judge stories than anyone. Remember to avoid the Groid, lest you get your head kicked in.

  48. Associate at small-ish firm in Philly. Mostly bankruptcy litigation, and some general commercial litigation.

  49. Was a military lawyer, now work in university tech transfer. Not sure if I’ll return to practice, but appreciate your work on interesting issues/cases.

  50. Civil attorney for a county in Utah.

  51. UT Law Grad 2009. Environmental law practice at smallish nonprofit since then.

  52. Rising 2L keeping my head down in the law school politically. Working in a prosecuting attorney’s in an urban calamity in the middle part of the country.

    1. Keeping your head down politically?

      My advice? Don’t do that.

  53. Central Iowa lawyer for 11 years, working in the areas of debt collection, family law, and general practice.

  54. Retired transactional lawyer, detective-story writer, bridge player, grandpa.

  55. Attorney at a smallish (20-25) niche firm in construction defect defense in San Francisco. Super pro-growth and looking to get into the development/construction industry rather than this legal rigmarole.

    I read mostly construction, supply chain, etc. trade journals, and read mostly economic news. Yours is one of just a few law blogs I read – really appreciate it!

  56. I’m a civil trial and appellate litigator in private practice based in Omaha, practicing primarily in Nebraska and the US Virgin Islands.

  57. Lawyer for about 14 years or so.

  58. Law school at night, talmudic law by day. Come here for the articles, stay for some of the comments.

  59. Lawyer! Just graduated in May 2019 and finishing up a clerkship at a state appellate court.

  60. Whar about “Lapsed” lawyers? I practiced for 8 years in state and Federal Courts, including provate practice, state high court clerkship, federal agency attorney, and SPecial Assistant US Attorney; have been a policy researcher and strategist for the last 30 plus years for state advocacy groups, university think tank, and philanthropic community. Lecture on Law and POlicy at the Graduate School of Public Affairs. Use your column regularly as an example of nuanced conservative writing about law and policy issues.

  61. 50 year criminal defense attorney

  62. Attorney who works for a government body.

  63. 30 year attorney, primarily try cases involving real property and energy issues.

  64. Former biochemist, 7 years complex commercial litigation, 20 years in-house counsel for large academic medical center, 4 years and counting as Assistant Dean in a new medical school (where I am not technically practicing law). Love pondering what works and what doesn’t in terms of laws (both enacted and socially imposed).

  65. 30 years attorney. Two SV SW startups in automotive domain. 3 adult kids, one in law school at William and Mary. Scalia textualist in approach to Con law.

    1. I used to be a Scalia fan. Well, I mean, in terms of his approach to interpretation. As a human being, I continue to have no opinion, but think he was a little harsh towards the disadvantaged maybe.

      Then I read his book, a matter of interpretation.

      That book changed my mind. It turned me against him.

  66. Rising 2L at the University of Florida and current Fed Soc president.

  67. Louisiana attorney for 14 years. LSU Law grad. General counsel for government agency primarily focused on natural resource and environmental policies and regulation, including mineral and property law issues. Been a VC reader since law school.

  68. I’m a former attorney who spends a few hours a month or so on a blog, that seeks to warn the public about ethical issues at the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers. Of course, I want to do this in a way that informs, but does not cross the line into defamation, and so I occasionally read your blog to keep up on First Amendment cases. If anyone is interested, below is a summary if anyone is curious.

    Most of my time the past three years was spent researching, designing and testing trading algorithms — although the fact that they are automated now, and performed robustly during the recent turmoil leaves me with free time, wondering about what I’ll do next.


    Welcome and thank you for visiting this site. I am a former attorney who used to work at O’Melveny & Myers. I was so surprised by what I saw there, that I took on the hobby of amateur journalist and started this website. Below is a summary of a few articles. I hope you find them informative.

    1. According to the New York Times, O’Melveny used violent imagery to threaten a sexual abuse victim into silence, as her assailant watched, leading to an additional decade of sexual abuse by the assailant. The attorney who reportedly threatened the young woman is chair of the firm’s Trial Practice Committee.

    2. The firm has a history of conducting reportedly sham “independent investigations,” in exchange for money. (Links one, two, and three). See particularly the second link, a story in Corporate Counsel accusing O’Melveny partner Adam Karr of conducting a sham investigation of sexual abuse at Lions Gate. To reveal this information, the victim had to break her confidentiality agreement and return over a million dollars. But she did so to protect others, meaning she has the credibility of a saint. In the first link, you’ll find a story about an O’Melveny alumnus who was arrested by the FBI while trying to negotiate an independent investigation retainer.

    3. O’Melveny has, as a practice group leader, a person who reportedly lied to a federal court. Once caught in that lie by the discovery of documents, he gave a radio interview criticizing The Geneva Convention. This person manages the firm’s Financial Services Practice Group.

    4. O’Melveny was at the forefront of the document used to silence victims — the mandatory arbitration and nondisclosure agreement. Although three federal courts told O’Melveny that this document was “unconscionable” (case one, two, three) — O’Melveny continued to force its employees to sign it until 2018, when law students pressured law firms to abandon this practice.

    5. The firm has a disconcertingly money-obsessed culture, which they called “eat what you kill.” For example, query whether they needlessly dragged out the misery of an alleged rape victim to maximize partner profits, and then bragged about the money they made off of her in a press release (links one and two). Or query whether they were the only defense firm to drag out an opioid crisis case, damaging their client’s reputation and likely resulting in avoidable deaths (links one, two and three). Or notice how O’Melveny cut summer associate pay, to boost partner income by an estimated 0.24%.

    6. An O’Melveny attorney told me that they view government positions as an asset they can “monetize.”

    7. The firm retaliates against employees who complain about problematic practices. (Links one and two).

    8. O’Melveny contrives claims to intimidate people. For example, after I published this website, they accused me of the federal crime of stealing confidential information – without any digital evidence that I even accessed the data they accused me of taking. When they realized that their baseless accusation wasn’t going to scare me, they threatened me with a defamation lawsuit. But when I asked them to identify a specific defamatory statement, so that I could retract it, they refused to do so.

    9. O’Melveny claims to support diversity by following the Mansfield Rule, but their track record suggests otherwise.

    10. The firm consistently grades itself at the top-end, usually the top three, in Vault’s self-graded rankings. But with some of the rankings, you may be able to catch them in the act. (Links one, two, three and four). For example, O’Melveny repeatedly grades itself as the number one firm in the world for hours. But if you gathered data on hours for all firms, you may be able to prove that it’s giving itself a higher ranking than it deserves. In fact, in one of the years that O’Melveny graded itself as the best firm for hours, two of Vault’s six take-aways for O’Melveny criticized its “unpredictab[le]” and “long hours.” If you did prove this, it wouldn’t be as serious as the other items in this list, but it may reflect a fundamentally dishonest culture.

    11. O’Melveny tries to manipulate journalists into advertising for the firm. Here is their manager of public relations explaining how to do this on the show, “Law firm marketing catalyst.” Some of the resulting articles are provably false.

    12. The firm was even lambasted in the press for trying to remove truthful information from Wikipedia, of all things.

    If you think this website is unusual, please note that I’m not the first person to do this. The late Judge Stephen Reinhardt expressed his public disgust with things he saw at O’Melveny over thirty years ago. A legal recruiter, whose livelihood depends on ingratiating himself to law firms, publicly shared a shocking story from O’Melveny. An attorney took to twitter to talk about everything they lost while working there. And there’s more about this firm that I haven’t said, because I do not have hard evidence and don’t want to be caught in a “he said, she said” defamation case (see #8 above). I’m restricted to writing only about things that made it into the news, which may be the tip of the iceberg.

  69. Current elbow law clerk to a Minnesota trial judge (remotely from North Carolina) and LL.M. student at the University of Arizona (online). Part of the second graduating class of the Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s first-in-the-nation, ABA-accredited, Hybrid-J.D. program (2019), which is half online and half in-person (but I suppose everyone has quickly learned how to go to law school online recently). Interested primarily in the ever-expanding Commerce Clause, the Second Amendment, and the Constitution as a revolt to Marxism-Leninism.

    1. “Interested primarily in the ever-expanding Commerce Clause, the Second Amendment, and the Constitution as a revolt to Marxism-Leninism.”


  70. Retired attorney and erstwhile journalist, maintaining an interest in First Amendment law that began when I walked into a newsroom on a 7th-grade field trip 60 years ago.

  71. Mom, minivan driver in large SEUS city. Involuntary homeschooler since March. Equity partner, V50 firm.

  72. I am Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht.

    1. On a more serious note, I’ve been a lawyer for 20 years, always in private practice. Formerly did mostly IP law, but now primarily employment. And I’m a libertarian who arrived from a liberal perspective.

      Been reading Volokh since the earliest days at Volokh.com, before the comments era.

  73. I am 65. Just retired from being a juvenile public defender for 27 years. Prior to that I did railroad defense work. I remain active as an attorney, but I am not actively practicing. I am a libertarian arriving there from a conservative perspective.

  74. A high school drop out in my mid 50’s, with a successful electrical engineering career in Silicon Valley and numerous patents in my field and some related disciplines. Growing up in a time and place where it was still fashionable to each that classical liberalism is the strength of America, I have enjoyed the Volokh Conspiracy since before it arrived at WAPO. Both the commentary by Dr. Volokh and others, as well as the comments from knowledgeable readers are all enlightening. Prior to the world wide web I stalked law libraries in my spare time.

  75. Lawyer in the Midwest or maybe the South. Currently at a DoD contractor. Sometimes play a legal expert on TV.

    Infamously married a Volokh lurker who avidly read my comments back when it was volokh.com. Maybe we would have gotten married sooner if he didn’t think I was a man.

    1. That last sentence is legit funny.

  76. In terms of career, I am half a lawyer and half a software engineer. And I really should have been an economist rather than either, since that subject seems to fit me the best, intellectually.

    I have mellowed out with time and become a better listener. I think that has made me a little smarter. Or so I like to say.

  77. Recovering lawyer. My goal is to be hired by O’Melveny & Myers in order to monetize my hobby of sham independent investigations.

  78. Entire legal career practicing in the area of higher education law, either in-house or external counsel. Have been following Volokh conspiracy for years.

  79. Former Staff Attorney with the Social Security Administration and for over thirty years in private practice representing Social Security Claimants almost all in regards to disability claims. Currently, the President of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR)

  80. Once one of the quasi-famous flounders of the original Greedy Associates. Former staff attorney at the Nevada Supreme Court. General civil practitioner in California and Nevada, and a 20+ year veteran of the sexy world of insurance coverage, But never let work own me. I have been to 107 countries so far. AMA.

  81. Retired after thirty-odd years of teaching administrative law, constitutional law, maritime law, and military law; and twenty years of serving first as a Naval Flight Officer and later as a Naval Intelligence Officer.

  82. Tax lawyer with a deep love of 1A law. Been reading VC since the beginning (01? 02?).

    Pleased as punch they’re no longer at WaPo.

  83. Assistant Professor and Director of the Center for Human Rights at Trinity Law School in CA. Adjunct at Chapman University. Teach Int’l Human Rights, Public Int’l Law, Jurisprudence, and Constitutional Law (using Barnett & Blackman). Current research is on religious freedom and secularization; the use of “soft law” to create new rights in customary international law; and originalism and other interpretive issues in U.S. and int’l law.

    Also 14 years in practice, doing estate planning. Read as much of and about Shakespeare as I can.

  84. Senior partner at a large biglaw firm. I’ve been reading the VC since 2002 or 2003 I think (when I was a junior AUSA). I appreciate the intellectual rigor and the indepenence. Thanks for all of your thought-provoking work and commitment to open debate.

  85. Deputy prosecutor in South. I’ve been an attorney for 10 years. I’m a follower of the sport/state of mind that is baseball.

  86. Union-side labor lawyer in Kansas City.

  87. Municipal public defender from Ohio.

  88. Retired attorney: public defender, private practice, county counsel. UCLA Law grad 1972.

  89. Love to see how many people are reading beyond the normal set of trolls and shouters in the usual comments.

    10 years a lawyer living in Port Washington, half an hour north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I spent my first 9 years working for a conservative/libertarian public interest law firm and just recently broke off to form Wisconsin’s only law firm dedicated exclusively to enforcing open records and open meetings laws.

    Started reading Volokh Conspiracy in law school.

  90. I’m an incoming 1L at the University of Illinois College of Law. For the first half of the 2010s, I was a county- and state-level Libertarian Party officer and ran for statewide office, but haven’t been involved much after I lost patience with a party that’s more interested in being contrarian than in actually taking itself seriously and moving policy in a libertarian direction.

  91. In practice for 10 years, 8 years of which was in Big Law in DC and Florida. Now a solo practitioner in Florida, which I like much better than Big Law.

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