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Lawyers in the Office of the Solicitor General fall into roughly four categories, according to Jeffrey Lamken: those who last for three years, six years, and 12 years; and the lifers. After arguing 15 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and staring down his fortieth birthday, Lamken decided he fell into the six-year category and packed up. But he didn’t go far, moving just a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Department of Justice to Baker Botts, where he now heads up the Supreme Court and federal appellate practice. This isn’t the first time Lamken has left government for private practice. After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1990, Lamken clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Then-solicitor general Kenneth Starr began a fellowship program to bring talented appellate court clerks to work in his office, and Lamken was among the first to seize the opportunity. The California native headed east and never looked back. After the fellowship, he clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, then joined the Washington, D.C., firm of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd & Evans. After four years as a litigator in private practice, the government service itch returned, and Lamken headed back to the solicitor general’s office. As one of 20 assistants to the solicitor general, Lamken’s work fell largely into (you guessed it) four categories: briefing and arguing cases before the Supreme Court, writing appeal recommendations for suits wending their way through the courts, writing briefs opposing writs of certiorari, and preparing colleagues for their own arguments through moot courts. Lamken left as one of his most interesting cases � involving the capture and U.S. trial of a Mexican doctor accused of keeping a Drug Enforcement Agency agent alive during torture by drug dealers � was about to be argued before the Supreme Court, at the end of March. He admits it was difficult looking for another job while working on such an interesting case, “but I loved all my cases,” he says. Lamken picked Baker Botts because the Houston-based firm’s larger size allowed him to focus on appellate and Supreme Court work. Baker Botts “is the best fit for me at this moment,” Lamken says circumspectly. Given his propensity for moving up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, however, it would not be surprising to see him back in government service one day.

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