The Talent

January 3, 2011 6:45 PM

With Goldstein Bolting Akin Gump, what Becomes of SCOTUSblog?

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

Taking the holidays off means you're going to miss some big breaking news. One of the stories that The Am Law Daily got scooped on while trimming the tree and downing flutes of Champagne: Supreme Court litigator and SCOTUSblog cofounder Thomas Goldstein's decision to leave Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld effective Monday, January 3, to rejoin Howe & Russell. Goldstein's move was first reported by Above the Law on December 31; our sister blog, The Blog of Legal Times, published its own item on Goldstein's move earlier today.

A client conflict prompted the move, Goldstein confirmed to ATL. "Conflicts is a big part of it; a big client of mine runs into another critical Akin client with some regularity," said Goldstein, who declined to identify the client. As the BLT reports, Goldstein had considered making the move after the client asked him to take on additional work--the added matters were sure to lead to problems with another Akin client.

The appellate star decided to return to the firm where he spent the seven-plus years prior to joining Akin Gump in May 2006.  That firm, Howe & Russell, will be renamed Goldstein, Howe & Russell. With Goldstein's departure, his Akin Gump appellate practice cochair, Patricia Millett, will now serve as the group's sole chair.

SCOTUS junkies, don't despair--Goldstein plans to continue sharing his running analysis of all matters Supreme via his hugely popular SCOTUSblog, according to the BLT. Goldstein cofounded the blog with Howe & Russell name partner Amy Howe in 2002 (If the blog banter sometimes reads like a married couple chatting over coffee, that's natural; Howe also happens to be Goldstein's wife). It's likely that Akin Gump will most likely remain as the blog's primary sponsor, Goldstein said.

Goldstein, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, received his law degree from American University's Washington College of Law in 1995. He has argued 22 cases before the Supreme Court. Goldstein told the BLT that when he joined Akin Gump, his practice "was about $1 million and it has since grown to about $3 million." Profits, he said, did not drive the decision to make the move.

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Oh, come on -- read the comments on Above The Law for a devastating analysis of Goldstein's non-performance at Akin.

The consensus of the “Above the Law” commentators is that Goldstein proved unable to build a commercially viable practice (he argued only 2 paying merits cases, losing both 9-0, and got cert. only once in 15 tries, and that case was taken away from him at the merits stage). He's lost UNANIMOUSLY 9 of his 22 cases (41%), which has got to be a record.

Some good comments also at the WSJ law blog:

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