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COLD PRESS For decades, Supreme Court advocates ranging from Thurgood Marshall’s civil-rights litigators to John Roberts Jr. have made their way to a print shop in D.C.’s Chinatown to make last-minute refinements to the briefs they would file with the high court. Wilson-Epes Printing Co., founded in 1941, was their destination, and they would be greeted with the sharp scent of printer’s ink and the sight of Rube Goldberg-esque typesetting machines that would form letters out of molten lead. They would be rewarded with a finished brief that let you feel the imprint of lead on paper. The company has survived the transition away from the hot-type era, but in January it moved to a new space away from Chinatown. Its new location, at 777 H St., N.E., is in the rapidly redeveloping H Street commercial corridor, and is actually closer to the Supreme Court itself than before. The new shop lacks the quaintness and grubbiness of the old locale — no ink smell, no typesetting machines — and the two new digital presses, looking sleek and dull, cost $1 million or so each. Company president Robert Dorsey’s son, Christopher, 32, is now general manager; he got his printing experience, aptly enough, working at Kinko’s. Still the lawyers come — or more often paralegals, and most often by e-mail — looking for a quick turnaround on briefs that they hope will soon be avidly read by the justices. “The lawyers will call and say, �I just pressed the send button, why haven’t you sent the finished proof back yet?’” says Robert Dorsey, who bought the company in 1993. But there is more to it than that, and the company pays attention to details — proper margins, fonts, spacing and the like — before it prints anything destined for the Supreme Court, or other courts, for that matter. That’s why some of the biggest players in Supreme Court litigation — Hogan & Hartson, Sidley Austin, WilmerHale, Baker Botts, and Jones Day among others — are still customers, Dorsey says. In the digital age a lot of other competitors — including self-publishing lawyers — have entered the field, but they don’t always follow the Court’s rules religiously. A few months ago, Dorsey says, the Court clerk’s office sent a style reminder out to law firms about the font sizes required for briefs, to bring back greater uniformity. Dorsey recalls the days when Roberts, then at Hogan & Hartson, would stop by the print shop “two or three times a week” to put the finishing touches on briefs. He’d get ink on his shirt in the process. “The ritual of going down there at the crack of dawn — it was a signature way to top off the whole project of writing a brief,” Roberts himself recalled in a 2000 interview with Legal Times. “We could always rely on them to mind our p’s and q’s.” The move out of Chinatown was difficult and costly, says Dorsey, 60, but it was made necessary by skyrocketing taxes. “The city taxed me out of Chinatown,” Dorsey says, and he sees some irony in that. Law firms and other upscale businesses that moved into Chinatown in recent years helped raise property values. “My clients moved in, and I had to move out.”
CLINICAL IMPRESSION Just three years ago the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, the first of its kind, filed its inaugural petition with the Supreme Court. Since then the Supreme Court clinic idea has spread like wildfire — six top law schools have them now, by last count. In each, top students work with faculty and seasoned Supreme Court litigators to write briefs in a clinic setting for Supreme Court cases. And last week, it seemed that clinics were everywhere on the Court’s docket: • On Monday, Feb. 26, the Court granted review in

Watson v. United States, a criminal case involving the definition of firearm use. The brief came through the University of Virginia’s brand-new Supreme Court clinic and was signed by Mark Stancil of Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck & Untereiner, who teaches clinic students along with UVa professors. • The next day, a petition was filed in Hamdan v. Gates and Khadr v. Bush, the next round of the constitutional battle over access to the courts for Guantánamo Bay detainees. Among those working on the petition were Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe and students from Harvard’s Supreme Court clinic. • On Wednesday, Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw partner Andrew Pincus argued in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, a case briefed by Pincus and Yale Law School’s new clinic. To everyone else, the case was about church-state issues, but the headline on the Yale Daily News Web site was: “Court hears YLS case.”

“It’s been a net plus for all the schools, and it provides yet another source of great Supreme Court advocacy,” says Richard Lazarus, founder of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown University Law Center, which puts on moot courts for lawyers practicing for Supreme Court arguments. So far Georgetown itself has bucked the Supreme Court clinic trend, says Lazarus, preferring to stick with its existing appellate clinic which allows students to actually argue before appeals courts — something that could not happen at the Supreme Court. But many other schools have followed in the footsteps of Stanford. Virginia, Yale and Harvard — Harvard has two — as well as Northwestern and the University of Texas have launched Supreme Court clinics. It has gotten to the point where Thomas Goldstein of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, the undisputed godfather of the Supreme Court clinic idea in general — and the Stanford and Harvard clinics in particular — wonders if the trend is too much of a good thing. “Does it keep going, or is there a super-saturation point? It will be interesting to see,” he says. Already, the Stanford clinic has had to fight harder for cert-worthy cases to handle, Goldstein says. At the beginning — only three years ago — Stanford’s clinic could choose to take cases only on behalf of a direct party, and only those that Goldstein or Stanford professors would argue themselves. “We’re doing more amicus briefs now,” Goldstein says, and more cases in which the original attorney still argues the case. Goldstein said his clinic pursued Michael Watson, the petitioner in the firearms case the Court granted Feb. 26, only to find out that the Virginia clinic had gotten there first. [Editor's Note: Goldstein is a contributor to Legal Times.] But Goldstein is unambiguously happy with the trend, which he thinks over time will have a “genuine effect” on the work of the Court and bring criminal and other cases to the justices that otherwise might get forgotten. And while none of the justices of the high court have commented publicly on the role of the clinics, they have already paid them the highest possible compliment. “Five of my clinic students from Stanford and Harvard will be clerking for justices next term,” Goldstein says. “The clinics are already performing a vital role,” says David Frederick of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel. The benefit to the Court, as Frederick sees it, is in the category of “in the ball park” cases that might appeal to the Court — but are passed over because they are not properly framed or briefed. Could the clinics, then, be the cure for the Court’s shrinking docket by polishing diamonds in the rough? So far, Frederick and others involved in clinics doubt it, since most of the cases clinics have handled probably would have gotten to the Court anyway. Frederick, a veteran of the solicitor general’s office and author of a book on Supreme Court advocacy, has a case in point. The clinic he guides at the University of Texas School of Law, his alma mater, filed its first petition last November in the maritime law case Altadis USA v. Sea Star Link, and it was granted review in January. “We’re batting a thousand,” he says. But he adds, “the Court probably would have granted it anyway,” without the clinic’s help. “It was ripe to be decided.” That said, the presentation of the case was improved through the clinic, by the students and by Texas professor Michael Sturley, a top expert in maritime law. (Last month, the case was settled by the parties and dropped from the docket.) Robbins Russell’s Stancil also doubts that the clinics, as good as they are, will convince the Court to take a case that does not deserve review. “We won’t be able to flip anything by them.” But Stancil, too, sees a category of cases that might gain more prominence because the clinics are helping: disputes with a middle-level monetary value. “The billion-dollar cases will go up no matter what,” says Stancil, a onetime Rehnquist clerk. “And the religion-clause cases and other significant issues with broad impact will also go up.” But because of the high cost of hiring a lawyer to take a case to the Supreme Court, an $80,000 dispute might never be appealed unless by a clinic or other operation operating pro bono. The criminal defense docket might also seem like a sector that could use the help of clinics, and that has already occurred. But Jonathan Hacker, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers who often writes briefs for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, says it will still depend on “whether the existing lawyer wants assistance.” Solo criminal defense lawyers are sometimes reluctant to seek help or turn over an argument to an outsider, Hacker says, and that will still be the case even if it is a clinic offering the helping hand. Hacker, along with O’Melveny partners Walter Dellinger III and Pamela Harris, will be teaching at the yearlong Harvard clinic which launches in the fall. The existing clinic at Harvard, which operates in the winter term, is taught by Tribe and Goldstein, along with Goldstein’s wife Amy Howe and Kevin Russell, her partner in the law firm Howe & Russell. One benefit of the clinics seems beyond dispute: the value to students in exposing them to the thrill of working on a Supreme Court case, along with the more practical lessons of meeting deadlines and writing clear, persuasive, and authoritative prose for a tough audience of nine. “They also learn that the Court is not, contrary to popular portrayals, a hotbed of politically charged or ideologically based decision-making,” says Sidley Austin D.C. partner Jeffrey Green, who is teaching the Northwestern clinic along with managing partner Carter Phillips. “With second- and third-year students, sometimes it’s hard to get them psyched, it’s hard to give them that passion,” says Georgetown’s Lazarus. When students get to see their handiwork having an impact on a Supreme Court or appeals court case, Lazarus says, “they get very psyched, very interested.”
TWIST OF FEET At age 68, Justice Stephen Breyer is pretty spry, and by no means the oldest justice (John Paul Stevens takes that honor, at age 86). So why was Breyer walking with a cane Feb. 27 as he left the bench? A “flare-up of tendinitis in his left ankle” is how Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg explained it. But the injury was not suffered on the squash court or the bike trails of Cambridge. Apparently, one recent day as Breyer was walking down the hall in the Court building, he twisted his right foot as he turned to speak to someone. That caused him to put too much weight on his left foot, causing the flare-up and necessitating the cane, which will be a temporary accessory.
Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected]. Visit Legal Times page dedicated to Supreme Court coverage

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