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October 24, 2009

An appellate lawyer that every federal defendant should want for a sentencing appeal

This new piece by Tony Mauro in the National Law Journal, which is headlined "To Build Practice, Ex-Bush SG Embraces Liberal Clients," makes me hopeful that an old law school friend of mine might soon be representing some federal sentencing defendants.  Here are snippets from the piece:

Until this summer, Paul Clement had never been hugged by a client.  He'd been in George W. Bush's solicitor general's office for eight years, building a reputation as one of the most skilled appellate advocates of his generation as he argued the trickiest of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and appellate courts.  But, he acknowledged wryly, "In government, your client tends to be abstract -- the United States of America.  Or, slightly less abstract -- the Securities and Exchange Commission."

Clement left as solicitor general in June 2008, before the presidential election that would have put him out of a job.  He returned to King & Spalding in November to build a Washington appellate practice in a souring economy, and before a Supreme Court that was still accepting only 75 cases per term.

So in one case he argued on Oct. 14, and another set for Nov. 4, Clement has taken on tough-to-win cases that are far from standard fare for a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and a Bush-era legal icon: In the first, he argued for enhanced fees for plaintiffs lawyers in a civil rights case, and, in the second, he represents a pair of men who were wrongly convicted in the murder of a retired Iowa police officer.  Which explains the hug....

Clement's former deputy, Thomas Hungar, who now works with Olson at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, cut Clement slack.  "The practice mix tends to change when you leave the government," said Hungar, who said Clement's latest cases appeared to be "quite a switch."

Still, some can't resist the irony of Clement's new clientele.  "Paul's invitation to join NACDL is in the mail," joked Jeffrey Green of Sidley Austin, who often works with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and argued against Clement's SG office in criminal cases.  "We all have tremendous faith in Paul's intellect and prodigious argument skills as a new member of the dark side."  More seriously, Green said that Clement's role in the Iowa case is another sign that "pro bono cases that no one wanted to touch a few years ago are now being fought over."

Clement argued Booker on behalf of the federal government and certainly helped convince the Court to adopt advisory guidelines in the Booker remedy opinion.  Here's hoping that Clement might find a couple federal defendants still trying to get the full benefit of the Booker ruling worth representing on appeal.  I suspect the NACDL would be happy to recommend some hot prospects for SCOTUS review even if he does not become a card-carrying member of the orgainzation.

October 24, 2009 at 01:39 PM | Permalink


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He is on the lawyer hierarchy arrest list. He will never use his great skills to deter the government thug. He would resist client demand to assert all legal rights. He clerked for that foreign law quoting, criminal lover, Scalia. Despite great intelligence, he likely will get really stupid if it comes to counterattacking the other side.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 24, 2009 4:20:22 PM

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