Look out, all you lawyers who tout your decades-long experience before the U.S. Supreme Court. The young ones are nipping at your client base.
In just two days of arguments in a total of four cases, four young advocates, none out of law school even 10 years, stood at the high court’s lectern. And the one with the most recent law degree argued on Tuesday.
"How ‘ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?" Roy Englert Jr. quipped, quoting the title of a World War I song.
Englert, partner in Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber, was thrilled with the performance of the firm’s associate, Daniel Lerman, who made his first court appearance anywhere in American Trucking Associations v. City of Los Angeles, a federal preemption case involving the Federal aviation Administration Authorization Act.
Lerman, who represented American Trucking, is a 2008 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center. He clerked for Judge William Bryson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and for the Judge David Tatel of the District of Columbia Circuit. Before law school, Lerman, 38, worked as a science & health policy analyst at the National Institutes of Health. He received a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Chicago.
Englert was counsel of record on the successful petition for review. When partner Alan Untereiner had to step out of the case, Englert sought an assist from inside the firm.
"I really wasn’t fully aware of how good [Lerman's] work was going to be slotting in for a partner in his ’50s," recalled Englert. "I got his draft of the opening brief and I thought it was fantastic. I started thinking along the lines he could argue the case and then I started thinking along the lines, can I sell it to the client."
Lerman’s appearance was contingent on several things: what the Solicitor General’s brief said, the respondent’s brief, and his moot court performance. There was always the possibility that Englert could take back the case. But everything worked for Lerman.
"It was my first time speaking in any court," said Lerman. "It exceeded my expectations." He added that he knew his was not the typical situation for an associate, but that this "extraordinary opportunity" came because "I work for a great law firm and a great client."
The other "youthful" advocates this week were: Assistant to the Solicitor general Eric Feigin (Stanford ’05), Assistant to the Solicitor General John Bash (Harvard ’06), and Orrick senior associate Robert Yablon (Yale ’06). Besides being the one who has been out of law school the least amount of time, Lerman is the only one who did not clerk on the Supreme Court.
Marcia Coyle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.