You—yes, you—should run for office. Reinventing yourself after a lifetime of law practice is a sizzling hot topic these days. How hot? Well, I moderated a panel on encore careers at the New York City bar recently—and it was standing room only. What’s more, there were current and former Big Law partners in attendance. Who knew so many “mature” lawyers are still hungry for a second or third act?
We discussed all types of options at the panel, like serving on boards or working for nonprofits, but we totally missed this one: running for public office.
On Tuesday, litigation counsel Justin Fairfax was elected lieutenant governor of Virginia—setting him up to serve alongside fellow Democrat Ralph Northam, who won Virginia’s gubernatorial race. And another Big Law attorney, Quinn Emanuel’s Jenny Durkan, won her race to become Seattle’s next mayor.
The NLJ also reports there might be more Big Law politicians in the pipeline, including Venable’s former chair James Shea, who hopes to become the next Democratic nominee for governor of Maryland.
Both Fairfax and Durkan are injecting diversity into public office. Fairfax “became the first African-American to be elected to a statewide office in Virginia since 1989—the year L. Douglas Wilder was elected governor.” And Durkan is a lesbian. (A former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, she was the first openly gay top federal prosecutor.)
I think it’s perfectly logical for Big Law types to get into politics: They’ve got the skills, the smarts and a high tolerance for boring details that should come in handy in the governing process. Plus, if you’ve been a Big Law partner, you probably have some savings under your belt to take the pay cut that public life requires. I say, go for it!
(By the way, panelists at the New York City Bar event included Marci Alboher, VP for Encore.org; Pamela Carlton, president of Springboard; Susan Fisher of BoardAssist; and Lynn M. Kelly, executive director of the City Bar Justice Center.)
Too bad you missed your best shot at getting into Harvard Law School. I hate to say I told you so, but didn’t I suggest that you apply to your dream law school when the going was good?
It might seem like ancient history now, but law, especially Big Law, had a stinky reputation in the aftermath of the recession. (Anyone remember those layoffs when associates got tossed like broken toys after Christmas?) For about five years or so, starting in 2010, application rates to law schools were on a steady decline.
Well, if you didn’t apply back in the day, you’ve missed your chance at squeezing into a top (or better) law school. According to TaxProfBlog, LSAT takers rose 10.7 percent in September/October—and that’s on top of a 19.8 percent increase in June. That increase was “the largest since 2009-10, when LSAT-test takers hit an all-time high (171,514).”
Is this just a momentary bump? Nope. Registrations for the December LSATs are up 19.8 percent. TaxProf says: “We are headed for a third consecutive year of increases in LSAT test-takers (and the largest yearly increase, dwarfing 2015-16′s 4.1 percent and 2016-17′s 3.3 percent), which followed five consecutive years of declines.”
So here’s my advice for you: Go against the herd. Unless you’re dead set on being a lawyer and are sure you can get into a “decent” law school (in my opinion, that would be top 50 ranked schools), you might consider something else (podiatry school?) beside law school.
Move over, Gloria Allred. Robbie is here. I don’t know if this is the kind of client she could have or would have taken on at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, but Roberta Kaplan is now representing a woman who’s been sued for defamation by filmmaker Brett Ratner after she accused him of rape.
Kaplan, of course, is famous for arguing the Edie Windsor case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 that recognized gay marriage. Before she started her own firm this year, Kaplan was a litigation partner at Paul Weiss.
Kaplan, left, is representing Melanie Kohler, an owner of a scuba shop in Hawaii, who accused Ratner on Facebook of raping her 12 years ago. The New York Times reports that Ratner slapped her with a defamation lawsuit “just hours after the Los Angeles Times published a story with allegations from six women—including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge—accusing Ratner of sexual misconduct and harassment.”
The Times article suggests that Kohler was intimidated by Ratner’s lawyer, Martin Singer, to remove her Facebook post, though Singer denies it.
In any case, Kohler shouldn’t be scared now that she’s got Kaplan on her team. I mean, Kaplan is a big gun.
My next appearance:
Discussion about Women in the Workplace—What’s Holding Us Back?
The Cornell Club of New York
Nov. 30, 2017 — 8 to 9:30 a.m.
(Sponsored by The New York Women’s Bar Association Foundation Inc.)