Judge’s rant in Facebook trial elicits criticism

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Members of the legal community have called for a deeper look into developing junior lawyers by giving them more chances to appear in court after a New York judge lambasted Facebook and BigLaw firm Kirkland & Ellis for sending an associate to a hearing.
 
“I think it is outrageous and irresponsible and insulting and you’re not the person doing the insulting. It’s whoever sent you here,” Eastern District Judge Nicholas Garaufis told Kirkland & Ellis associate Aulden Burcher-DuPont about his BigLaw firm sending him and not a more senior lawyer to last Thursday’s hearing, according to a transcript of the hearing.
 
The hearing was ended quickly and the judge ordered Kirkland & Ellis to “send a partner” to the next hearing on 28 September after saying he wants to “talk to someone who talks to the senior management of Facebook.”
 
However, the outburst has attracted criticism from others in the legal field.
 
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Kathi Vidal, a principal at Fish & Richardson in Silicon Valley, said that “People become trial lawyers because they want to be in court – not sit at desks.”
 
Meanwhile, Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Gregg Costa in Texas highlighted how crucial it is that junior lawyers rack up a decent amount of courtroom hours aside from the office work they do during their first years in practice.
 
“If the veteran lawyers of tomorrow get no trial experience, there will be even fewer trials in the future,” the judge said.
 
Judge Costa said that junior lawyers are sometimes even more efficient in hearings because they are more familiar with the facts of the case than senior partners, the Journal reported.
 
First-year associate
Burcher-DuPont was asked by the judge how long he has been with Kirkland & Ellis during the hearing and the lawyer answered “One year, your Honour.”
 
“One year: I don’t disparage your brilliance. I’m sorry. Kirkland & Ellis sent a first-year associate to the United States District Court to talk to a Federal district judge about this case,” Garaufis told the lawyer, before asking if he was admitted to the court.
 
He then instructed the lawyer to “tell your folks at Kirkland & Ellis that I don’t much like the idea that they think so little of this court that they didn’t send a partner here to talk about this kind of problem which implicates international terrorism and the murder of innocent people in Israel and other places.”
 
Judge Garaufis later asked Burcher-DuPont how many lawyers Kirkland & Ellis had to which the associate replied approximately 1,500.
 
“Fifteen hundred people. How many of them are partners in litigation? You don’t even know, there are so many. It’s not a good start, you can tell your exalted partners over there, that they put you here and I’ve got to lecture you. I want to lecture them,” he said.
 
“I’ve being a lawyer for 41 years and I’ve been a judge for 16 years and I’m not having this discussion with you.”

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