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Ted Olson Now Bills $1,800 an Hour; Plus Lawyer-Mom Drags Baby to Court

Vivia Chen

June 8, 2012

There's so much dismal, serious news out there—like the recently released NALP report that says that employment rates for the law school class of 2011 hit an 18-year low.

But this is the start of  summer, so let's dispense with depressing stories for a while and turn to sunnier news. Here are a couple of stories about lawyers who are doing just fine:

TedOlsonMoney-Bag2-©Ion Popa -Fotolia.com


1. Gibson Dunn partner stands up for the sanctity of the billable hour. Aren't you tired of clients turning the screws on big law firm partners to reduce their bills? What happened to respect and trust for outside counsel? Thankfully, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Theodore Olson will not be pushed around; he knows how to hold the line. Actually, he's raising the line—substantially: The former solicitor general is billing $1,800 an hour for his work in the bankruptcy case of  LightSquared Inc., a wireless-networking business that has filed for Chapter 11 protection.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports that Olson's rate is a record-breaker: "That’s the highest rate yet to be publicly disclosed, according to Valeo Partners, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm that maintains a database of legal rates pulled from court filings and other public information." The second-highest biller from Gibson Dunn on the matter was Eugene Scalia, who charged a mere $980 an hour. Next to Olson, Scalia is a bargain!

Now I know that Olson is a rock star of the legal profession (not to mention a bona fide sex symbol of The Federalist Society), but is he really worth almost twice as much as his esteemed colleagues? Is it his legal brilliance or is it the way he strides into a room that justifies his rate? (I asked Gibson Dunn to comment on Olson's rate, but the firm declined.)

Anyway, so much for keeping a lid on legal fees.

Baby screaming© S.Kobold-Fotolia.com2. Revenge of the lawyer-mom. What would you do if a judge wouldn't grant you a continuance while you're still on maternity leave? Bring the little darling to court, of course! Reports the ABA Blog (based on coverage in the Austin American-Statesman):

Amber Vazquez Bode had a cesarean section in late April. On Thursday, just ahead of a deadline, she requested a continuance in the misdemeanor trial of her client, a grease recycler accused of taking the material from a restaurant without permission, Bode says.

Justice of the Peace Glenn Bass refused the request, prompting Bode to bring her baby to court for the Monday trial. "My baby was completely freaking out," she wrote on Facebook. "The whole thing was out of hand!"

The scene at court apparently wasn't very pretty. The judge told the Austin paper that Bode was “confrontational when addressing the court,” and that he warned her of possible contempt charges. However, charges were eventually dropped against Bode's client, because, according to the judge, some of the witnesses failed to show up.

You have to wonder, though, if the baby tilted the judge's decision. If you've been around a collicky baby, you know you'll do almost anything to make the screaming go away. Dragging a fussy kid to court is not good court etiquette, but it might be a superb litigation strategy.

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this is the same guy whose estranged wife at the time supposedly made the cellphone call (despite improbability) from the supposed plane that supposedly hit the pentagon.... he was also bush's lawyer in bush v gore while working with anton scalia's son eugene. does any one else see the treason here?

LightSquare's willingness to pay the highest possible legal fee for bankruptcy services might be an indication as to why they needed to file bankruptcy in the first place. Wish I'd had them for a client for anything.

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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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