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WASHINGTON-Latham & Watkins is the “in” spot this year for recent U.S. Supreme Court clerks leaving the rarified atmosphere of the highest court in the land for the hands-on practice of law. The firm, home to more than 1,900 attorneys in 22 offices in the United States and abroad, hired six clerks from the October 2005 term-the largest number of hires from a single term by a single law firm in recent years. Other firms succeeding this year in the recruiting war for these talented lawyers include Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Jones Day; Gibson Dunn & Crutcher; Sidley Austin; Cooper & Kirk; Williams & Connolly; Hunton & Williams; and Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott. Private practice was not the only attraction for this class of clerks, whose numbers varied somewhat throughout the year because of the death of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Two have found homes, at least for now, in academia. Alexander “Sasha” Volokh, an O’Connor-Alito clerk, is a visiting associate professor at Georgetown University Law Center; he said that he intends to remain in academia. Another O’Connor clerk from last term, Amy Kapczynski, is on a Yale fellowship doing research in the interrelationship between HIV/AIDS, trade law and international financial institutions. And John C. Demers, a clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, has joined the U.S. Department of Justice as senior counsel to the assistant attorney general for national security, a new division in the department. In recruiting this year, Latham did nothing particularly different than in prior years, said Richard Bress, chairman of the firm’s associates committee. But several factors raised the firm’s profile on the clerks’ radar screens, he said: the firm’s consistent rankings among the top 10 firms in many practice areas, particularly corporate and litigation; the expansion of its Supreme Court and appellate practice led by Maureen Mahoney in Washington, a former Rehnquist clerk and a “huge draw,” according to Bress; the firm’s geographic breadth; and its transparent and collegial management and culture. That was true for Benjamin Horwich, an O’Connor-Alito clerk, now working in the firm’s San Francisco office. “Latham is incredibly strong in San Francisco with its trial practice and obviously strong in its appellate practice in Washington. There also was consideration of the firm culture and working environment for lawyers. Latham has an exceptional practice and exceptional lawyers. It is also very smartly managed, which means things run very smoothly for the clients.” Three of the six clerks hired by Latham are going to Washington: Lori Alvino (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), Dan Kearney (Roberts) and Jeff Pojanowski (Anthony M. Kennedy). Two are going to San Francisco: Horwich and Kathryn Judge (Stephen G. Breyer). And Dan Lenerz (John Paul Stevens) is going to San Diego. High court clerks become accustomed to working on complex legal issues with very talented lawyers, said James C. Ho (Clarence Thomas ), adding, “I wanted to find a way to continue that experience.” Unlike the typical clerk, Ho had previous experience in Gibson Dunn’s Washington office and in all three branches of the federal government, as well as in state government. After his clerkship, he returned to Gibson Dunn as of counsel to its Dallas office. “I chose Gibson Dunn because I wanted to be part of a strong national appellate practice,” he said. He noted the leadership there of former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, adding that “Gibson Dunn wants to expand its appellate presence in Texas even further, so it was a chance to be part of an exciting initiative in my home state.” In addition to Ho, the firm has hired a second clerk, Scott Martin (Scalia). Skadden Arps also recruited two: Danielle Gray (Breyer) and Sarah McCallum (Stevens). Latham’s Bress said that his firm paid the market-level hiring bonus for U.S. Supreme Court clerks-about $200,000-and considers the money well spent. “We’ve found they can come in and immediately operate at a very high level,” said Bress. “That’s true of all practices, but in appellate practice, their training makes them exceptionally well suited. We’re rejoicing with our six, not lamenting.”

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