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Trump Has a Beauty Queen Problem

The Careerist

June 21, 2017

Fark_oD8NqZtludtCkqYbMJ0r2Slp9gkIt's time for another Careerist edition of news and gossip. Here are some fodder for your next summer cocktail party:

Finally, a lawyer that would even get Donald Trump's seal of approval! We all know that The Donald is an aficionado of beauty contests. We also know that he loves winners. So he must be tickled at the prospect of having a bona fide beauty contest winner taking a key legal role in the probe of his administration's alleged Russian ties.

And who is this lawyer cum beauty queen? Elizabeth Barchas Prelogar, Miss Idaho 2004! (Hat tip: Above the Law .)

One teensy little problem: She's working for the enemy—Robert Mueller, the guy that Trump reportedly wants to fire.

As you might expect from a member of Mueller's elite team, Prelogar has serious legal chops. An assistant to the solicitor general, she's a Harvard Law School graduate and a former law clerk to Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, reports Tony Mauro of The National Law Journal. To top it off, she speaks Russian—which should come in handy for the probe.

Too bad she's not on Team Trump because she could be the president's dream lawyer: Beauty, brains, the works. As Trump might say, "If she weren't my opposing counsel, I'd be dating her."

Trump appoints "lawyer" to head housing, but where's the law degree? I'm not one of those people who thinks that a law degree makes you smarter or more qualified for a top administrative job. But if you're going to flaunt your J.D., it might be nice if you actually possess the degree.

Alas, Lynne Patton, whom Trump just appointed to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development for Region II (New York and New Jersey are included) has neither the right experience nor the purported law degree she lists on LinkedIn.

So what's her qualification? Well, Patton seems very good at keeping the Trump family happy.  The New York Daily News reports: "She’s arranged tournaments at Trump golf courses, served as the liaison to the Trump family during his presidential campaign, and even arranged Eric Trump’s wedding."

As for her law degree, Patton claims she graduated from Quinnipiac University School of Law. (As of this writing, she still lists a J.D. on her LinkedIn page). But when the Daily News contacted the school's registrar, it turned out she only attended for two semesters. (Patton also lists Yale University as a credential, though she doesn't list a degree. Did she once visit it?)

Of course, she's getting grief that her only real qualification for the job was being an excellent wedding planner for Eric Trump. But, hey, Ben Carson didn't have any housing experience to head HUD except be a brain surgeon. Arguably, the logistics of running the largest regional HUD office is more akin to running a Trump wedding production than brain surgery.

The top four firms for law school recruiting. The summer is still young, but I'm ready to make an early prediction. The top firms for the upcoming recruiting season will be:

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Kirkland & Ellis

Sullivan & Cromwell

Williams & Connolly

Why these four firms? Because they were the ones that reportedly turned down Trump as a client to address his on-going legal woes.

Given the liberal leanings of most big firm lawyers, it's smart strategy to be known as the firm that told Trump to take a hike. In fact, I'd say these firms are wearing it as a badge of honor. I'd go so far as to say that they want the anti-Trump brand—unlike Jones Day, which has filled the administration with its alums (Jones Day partner Don McGahn leads the White House Counsel office) and Morgan Lewis whose tax partner Shari Dillion got skewered for taking the stage in announcing that the administration had no business conflicts.

Yahoo News' Michael Isikoff reports that lawyers at the four firms cited various reasons for declining Trump (Brendan Sullivan of Williams & Connolly said he was too busy), but one lawyer summed it up best: "The guy won’t pay and he won’t listen."

Not paying and not listening are always sound reasons to diss any potential client—especially the not paying part.


Contact Vivia Chen at vchen@alm.com. On Twitter: @lawcareerist






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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: VChen@alm.com

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