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Monthly Archives: June 2015

Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: What’s the Best Way to Break into White Collar Defense?

I have been meaning to address this topic for some time because I can’t even count anymore how many young lawyers ask me how to break into the white collar field. And the answer is both simple and complicated. I remember once I had a young woman fresh off law school graduation ask for guidance on the topic. She was having a hard time finding an opportunity in the white-collar field. She sat in my office and said, “I want to be a white-collar lawyer.” I told her that realistically nobody graduates from law school and specializes in white-collar defense. I advised her to focus initially on a career in criminal defense.   She landed a job shortly after in a respected criminal defense firm. So what roads really lead to a white-collar practice? Some of the best advice I have seen written on this topic is by a fellow blogger and highly respected white-collar defense attorney, Matt Kaiser of Kaiser, LeGrand, & Dillon, PLLC in Washington D.C. His longtime partner Rebecca LeGrand is one of our own which gives him, as they say, street credibility on the WCDA blog. He addressed this topic three times in posts at Above the Law, here, here, and here. I highly recommend reading each of those posts if you’re trying to figure out how to break into white-collar practice. From my standpoint, never forget that the heart and soul of any white-collar case is basic criminal defense. Regardless of how complicated or sophisticated a white-collar matter is, you still need to understand the basics of examining a charging document and the elements of the offense. You still need to determine if there are any legal challenges to the use of evidence and gain a command of the facts of the case. So the first answer is to master the fundamentals of defending a person accused of a crime. After you have mastered that there are unique facets to defending a white-collar matter, but without the basics of criminal defense you are missing the forest for the trees. The best place to gain this experience is and always will be in the public sector. As either a prosecutor or public defender you get the opportunity to gain experience and critical trial skills necessary to defend a criminal matter. These are skills that simply aren’t easily obtainable in the private sector. Now, in this respect, not all roads are equal. Without question a job as an AUSA, Federal Public Defender, or an Assistant Director at the SEC are all well suited as a springboard into a white-collar practice. For the simple reason that you have more opportunities to touch white-collar matters. But even a state attorney or state public defenders’ job can be a strong stepping-stone to a federal public sector job or to develop federal experience in the private sector. There is a belief amongst some that the golden path to a white-collar practice is an AUSA pedigree, but that mold has long been broken. Take for example Cris Arguedas from Arguedas, Cassman & Headley, LLP who is currently defending FedEx, charged in a criminal Indictment. Or Theodore Wells from Paul Weiss, and Hank Asbill from Jones Day to name just a few more well-known and successful white-collar lawyers who were either public defenders or grew up in BigLaw through the help of mentors. There are many more. And in fact there are equally successful and exceptionally qualified white-collar lawyers that were AUSA’s, many who I respect and hold in high regard. Just don’t buy into the belief there is only one path to developing a white-collar practice. The bottom line is that focusing on white-collar defense is not something you can fall into out of law school. You have to be mindful of the paths you choose that can open doors to focusing on white-collar defense. But from where I stand it is well worth the effort. The post Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: What’s the Best Way to Break into White Collar Defense? appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Alexandra the Great

Criminal defense heroes come in all types. There is of course the classic dramatic trial lawyer who can bring any witness to their knees with a masterful cross. Then there is the silent but deadly trial lawyer who the opponent underestimates at every turn, but in fact is nothing short of a jury whisperer. But the most unrecognized heroes among us are the appellate lawyers who yield the power to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. And this week one of those unsung heroines is Alexandra Shapiro. She just won a new trial for former Deutsche Bank broker David Parse, who was convicted of tax fraud relating to a tax shelter scheme. The reversal was based on egregious juror misconduct which deprived the defendant of a fair and impartial jury. If that wasn’t enough, Alexandra Shapiro was also one of the architects behind the Unites States v. Newman appeal which has served as a game changer for insider trader prosecutions. The Second Circuit reversed and directed acquittals for both Todd Newman and Anthony Chiasson on the grounds that an insider trading offense requires that the Government prove that the tippee knew that the insider disclosed material nonpublic information in exchange for personal benefit. The Court found that the Government lacked proof on both fronts. Shapiro was involved in representing defendant Chiasson. And at the end of 2012, she obtained a reversal of the conviction of a tax lawyer and former partner of Ernst & Young arising from his work on the firm’s tax shelter practice. The Court found there was a lack of evidence to support the conviction of her client, Richard Shapiro. Simply review the list of appellate victories on the bio section of her website and you will see that Alexandra Shapiro has been involved in the reversal of some of this country’s largest white collar prosecutions. So today in the wake of a huge victory for Alexandra Shapiro and her client I think it is time that those of us in the trial trenches pay some respect to the true appellate heroines amongst us, who honestly don’t get the glory they deserve. Let’s face it, we all agree there is nothing like walking a client out a courtroom after a Not Guilty verdict but in truth I think it must pale in many ways to unlocking the jail cell door for a convicted client. That is truly the stuff of heroes! The post Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Alexandra the Great appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: More Action, Less Statistics

It seems that recently there have been an even greater focus on studies and statistics that tell us what we already know about the challenges women face in law. But I can’t help but wonder if this focus can actually become a distraction. I recently had a friend tell me that initiatives and committees focused on promoting women take women away from what should be their real focus; getting business and making it rain. And the more I read these dismal statistics the more I am beginning to think she is on to something. That being said, I still believe there is value in facing the current status of women in law; the cold hard facts so to speak. And I am mindful that not all women have the opportunity to develop and learn the necessary skill set to get business. Finally I also know there are many factors that contribute to these sad statistics but I do think that we need more action and less statistics. But of course I feel compelled to share them nonetheless: A recent Harvard Law School Study reveals that women lawyers work more hours than men. HLS conducted a survey of graduates of the classes of 1975, 1985, 1995 and 2000 entitled “The Women and Men of Harvard Law School” The study evaluated many differences between male and female lawyers including satisfaction, compensation, and leadership. In all the graduating classes studied, women outpaced mean in the number of hours worked while the class of 2000 women worked eight hours more per week than their male counterparts. The ABA Journal summarized the other findings from the study here. The New York Times reported the findings from a recent study which revealed that some men “fake” 80 hour work weeks. In fact many news sites commented on the new study by Boston University professor Erin Reid that found that 31 percent men and only 11 percent women managed to pass as workaholics without the need to demand more flexible work environments. The takeaway being that men are doing a better job at “faking it to make it” than women are. An American Lawyer Special Report about Big Law Failing Women which evaluates the status of women in big law and even contemplates the need for quotas. The articles include some pretty alarming statistics such as: A $250,000 pay gap between comparable men and women Big Law partners 8% female equity partners among Am Law 200 firms 2181 is the year to expect gender parity among Big Law partners at the current rate of growth Only 15% of Am Law 200 firms with three or more women on the compensation committee Only 1 female named partner out of 258 named partners among Am Law 100 firms 19 firms that hired associates from the On Ramp program that gives women who have taken a break from firms a chance to return. So read them and weep or…let’s throw these statistics on their head by starting to concentrate on increasing our businesses and consequently our power in the field. And if you have trouble in that department find another woman in the field you can trust and ask for help. We are all in this together! The post Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: More Action, Less Statistics appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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