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News and Gossip Edition

Vivia Chen

September 10, 2019

14024831414077Boo hoo. Summer is finito. So can just we keep things light and breezy?

I’ll do my part by not writing about the cheery fare I usually cover—all that mess about women and minorities in the legal profession and the scant progress they’ve made in the last two decades. And let’s not talk about how many more Supreme Court justices our Dear Leader will get to make in the next two to six years.

To commemorate the summer while you down your third gin and tonic, here are some totally irrelevant but maybe amusing/fun/curious tidbits about people in the legal world that you might have missed:

The Epstein-Barr Syndrome. Before I go into Bill Barr, our esteemed attorney general, and his web of connections to Jeffrey Epstein, can we talk about that $30,000 he’s plopping down for a family holiday party at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.?

Yeah, it looks kinda like he’s brownnosing his boss. Interestingly, though, George Conway—Trump antagonist and hubby of Kellyanne—thinks the media is overblowing it.

Conway tweeted: “Frankly, this is a silly story. Barr is paying for the party out of his own pocket. The hotel is next door to DOJ. The notion that the small profit from this would improve his standing with Trump, especially given how Barr misled the public about the Mueller report, is absurd.”

I usually agree with George Conway’s assessment of things Trumpian, but I think he got it wrong on this one. Of course, Trump would be tickled silly that Barr is shelling out $30,000 at his joint. I mean, Trump didn’t hesitate to hustle the taco bowls at the Trump Tower Grill on Twitter during the campaign, so I doubt any amount is too small to impress him.

Anyway, what I find amazing is how Barr’s past seems to spill into ongoing matters. I’m talking about the Justice Department and Jeff Epstein. As you probably know, Barr’s now investigating the apparent suicide of Jeff Epstein, who died in jail.

First of all, you’ll recall that Barr’s father is the one who gave Epstein his start. In the 1970s, while headmaster of New York’s Dalton School, Donald Barr hired Epstein as a math teacher. (Another fun fact: Donald Barr wrote a sci-fi book called “Space Relations” that featured slavery and—get this—sex involving teenaged girls.) And it was at Dalton that Epstein got hired by a financier who helped launch his career (Epstein was tutoring the financier’s kid).

And let’s not forget that Barr was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, which represented Epstein during the Florida investigation that ended up giving the pedophile a sweetheart deal. Kirkland partners Jay Lefkowitz and Kenneth Starr (who has since left) represented Epstein along with Roy Black, Gerald Lefcourt and Alan Dershowitz. Former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who arranged the controversial deal for Epstein when he was a federal prosecutor, was also a Kirkland partner.

So many layers of connection between Barr and Epstein that one could say there might be a possible conflict in the investigations that DOJ is now conducting into the deceased billionaire. But who cares about that? I’m more intrigued by that steamy novel Barr’s dad wrote.

Davis Polk produces two presidential hopefuls. You probably thought they came out of liberal incubator Paul Weiss. Not true! This election cycle, two of the Democratic presidential contenders started their legal careers at Davis Polk & Wardwell. That would be Kirsten Gillibrand (who just dropped out of the race) and Andrew Yang.

Of the two, it’s safe to say that Gillibrand was the more dedicated lawyer. She worked at Davis Polk from 1991 to 2000, primarily on Philip Morris cases. Then, in 2001, she moved over to Boies Schiller as a partner, where one of her clients was the Altria Group, Philip Morris’ parent company.

Yang? Well, let’s just say law wasn’t his thing. After graduating from Columbia Law School, he lasted at Davis Polk all of five months! Later, he formed various startups, until his company Manhattan Prep got acquired by a publicly traded company in 2009. Later, he formed nonprofit Venture for America that helps entrepreneurs in distressed areas.

Wow—this famous comedian is the progeny of lawyers? Who says lawyers who marry lawyers are destined to spawn more dull lawyers? Funnyman John Mulaney managed to break the cycle, despite having parents who fit the serious-lawyer mode. Dad is Charles Mulaney, a mergers and acquisitions partner at Skadden; and mom Ellen Mulaney teaches at Northwestern School of Law.

So was it traumatic or empowering to grow up the child of two graduates of Yale Law School (his parents were classmates of Bill and Hillary, and his mom was supposedly smitten with Bill)? Well, you can watch his comedy routine, “A Child with Two Lawyers,” and judge for yourself.



other: Goggle's legal chief's ex lover's article



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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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