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Sotomayor's Beloved $3 Million World

Vivia Chen

June 10, 2013

Here's my roundup of news and gossip that you might have missed:

480px-Sonia_Sotomayor_in_SCOTUS_robe1. Are white justices too boring to command the big bucks? Who says you have to resign yourself to bare subsistence wages when you become a judge? Justice Sonia Sotomayor reported earning a whopping $3 million, including $1.9 million in advances on royalties from her memoir, My Beloved World. That's a lot of dough for a book that's been barely out for six months! (Blog of the Legal Times)

So how does that compare with other justices? Well, Clarence Thomas didn't do badly either. According to The New York Times, Thomas received over $1 million for his 2007 memoir, My Grandfather’s Son. (The NYT says he has not disclosed any book royalties this year).

You have to wonder if the nonethnic justices can write the kind of juicy stories that will fetch this kind of money. To put it in context: Justice Stephen Breyer received $60,000 and Justice Antonin Scalia got about $40,000 in royalties for their books, according to the NYT. BLT reports that retired justice Sandra Day O'Connor got less than $1,600 in royalties on her previous books (it didn't help that the NYT called her last book, Out of Order, a "gift shop bauble"). Granted, we don't know how much they made when their books first came out, though I'll bet they didn't top Sotomayor's.

But let's keep an open mind. I'm willing to wager that if Ruth Bader Ginsberg or Scalia comes out with a "tell-all" memoir replete with sin and debauchery, there's money to be made. Just keep it naughty.

2. Wachtell Lipton is a blogger-incubator. Glenn Greenwald, who exposed in The Guardian hoMagnifieddog_by_javier_brosch_Fotolia[1]w the National Security Agency monitored millions of telephone logs and cooperated with Internet companies to gather information, got his training at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and NYU Law School. “I approach my journalism as a litigator,” he said to The New York Times.  (And let's not forget that David Lat, impresario of Above the Law, is also a Wachtell alum.)

3. You'll just have to read between the lines. Francine Griesing, the former Greenberg Traurig partner who sued the firm for gender discrimination (the case has since settled), recently talked about the challenges of being a woman at a big firm at a conference sponsored by Ark Group

She didn't talk about her lawsuit, of course. But she did say: "I have a 23-year-old who attended Barnard, and I would never want her to go to law school. . . . I hope that's not the answer when she has a daughter." Hmm, not much of an endorsement for women in Big Law. (Am Law Daily)

4. Parents still want their darlings to be little Perry Masons. Lawyers.com reports that "64 percent of parents hope their children will grow up to pursue legal careers."

The really sad part: It's "a particular aspiration for lower-income families, with 80 percent of parents who make less than $25,000 per year saying they would like their child to become a lawyer, versus 54 percent of parents who make at least $75,000."

5. The paradox about Kentucky. We don't hear much about the legal scene in the Bluegrass State, but we noticed two curious news items recently. The good news: U.S. News & World Report just named the University of Louisville's law school the best deal in the nation (CourierJournal.com). The sad news: Kentucky seems to have an abnormally high suicide rate for lawyers (hat tip: ABA Blog).

6. How not to impress the judge: If you're going to family court to ask for increased visitation rights, it's generally not a good idea to wear a Nazi uniform. (ABA Blog)


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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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