Good news for those of you thirsting for even more law-related news: Two legal newspapers are in the works for the District.
The New York Law Publishing Co., which puts out the weekly National Law Journal and the daily New York Law Journal, expects to launch a weekly newspaper here by the winter.
And Steve Brill, editor of the monthly American Lawyer magazine, plans to start a legal publication here "as soon as we can hire the right people editorially . . . . I would be surprised if we weren't started there by either late fall or January."
Both publications would compete with Washington's existing legal newspaper, the Daily Washington Law Reporter, a staid journal that confines itself to printing local court decisions, announcements of bar meetings and the like. The Law Reporter is also the quasi-official organ for legal notices required on matters such as wills, name changes and divorces -- a steady source of revenue that the new publications are expected to go after.
The New York Law Publishing Co. paper will focus on court decisions from the District and suburban jurisdictions, along with reports on agency proceedings and legal trends, issues and people, according to its president, James Finkelstein.
The paper "will extensively cover the federal and the local courts as well as regulatory agencies to a far greater extent than they're presently being covered," Finkelstein said. "We will print the important decisions in full and the lesser ones in summary fashion, and we will do them immediately." The Law Reporter often prints decisions months after they are released.
The company also has its eye on starting legal newspapers in other major markets, Finkelstein said.
Brill -- at times the scourge of the legal profession and at times its ally, offering $955 seminars to tell lawyers how to run their firms -- has been on a buying spree in recent months. Since September, he has spent millions on nine legal or financial newspapers in New Jersey, Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas.
"I think there's a vacuum in coverage first of all of the law and of legal developments in all of these localities, and that ultimately we can expand that coverage into local business coverage as well," he said.
Brill is being coy about his precise plans for Washington, refusing to say whether his publication will be daily or weekly. But he was talking up plans for a daily newspaper at a meeting of his fellow Yale Law School alumni here earlier this year, telling the lawyers that he was recruiting staff.
The planned Washington paper, he said, will not be "just a local version of The American Lawyer," which focuses on the goings-on at law firms, but it will "add a layer of . . . substance to that," with reports and analyses of court decisions and "very, very intensive" coverage of the criminal justice system.
Daily Washington Law Reporter President Millard Lewis said Brill called him last summer and offered to buy the paper. "I told him that I'm sorry, we didn't want to sell," Lewis said. Brill has retained Sara-Ann Determan of Hogan & Hartson to explore the advertising situation.
Why the surge of interest in legal periodicals here? "It's kind of obvious," Brill said. "There's lots of lawyers in Washington." Yes, but enough to support three legal newspapers?
Judicial Evaluations Update: The Bar Association of the District of Columbia, the city's largest voluntary bar group, unanimously passed a resolution last month opposing the mandatory D.C. Bar's recent decision "in principle" to release the results of its evaluations of local judges. Publishing the evaluations, the bar group said, "is not only not an essential ingredient of judicial evaluation, but may actually be harmful and in conflict with its purpose."
Many D.C. Court of Appeals and Superior Court judges are said to be exceedingly displeased with the bar's vote. The Court of Appeals, which controls the bar, could take the drastic step of ordering it to abandon the disclosure plan.
One argument against having the bar release the evaluations is that the judges are free under the current system to do so themselves. But that is not likely to happen, judging from the response -- or, more accurately, nonresponse -- to a recent letter asking judges if they would be willing to release their evaluations to The Washington Post.
Of 28 judges who had been evaluated during the past few years, none released the results. In fact, only one even responded to the letter: D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge William C. Pryor, who politely declined.
Also on the judicial front, the Judicial Nomination Commission has forwarded three names to the White House to fill the Superior Court vacancy created by the appointment of Judge George H. Revercomb to the U.S. District Court here: Acting D.C. Corporation Counsel John Suda; Superior Court hearing commissioner Evelyn C. Queen, and James Skelly Wright Jr., a partner at Cooter & Gell here.
Meanwhile, many moves in the White House counsel's office, which, among other things, screens the nominations for local judges. Associate Deputy Attorney General Jay B. Stephens moves down Pennsylvania Avenue after five years to start work today as deputy counsel to the president. Stephens knows the local courts from his days as an assistant U.S. attorney. He also worked on the Watergate special prosecution task force and was an associate at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering.
Already at work for new White House counsel Peter Wallison are Senior Associate Counsel C. Christopher Cox, formerly a partner at Latham & Watkins in California, and associate counsels Alan Raul, from Debevoise & Plimpton, and Robert Kruger, an associate in the D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
Heading in the other direction, Senior Associate Counsel David Waller has been nominated to be assistant secretary of energy for international affairs; Associate Counsel John G. Roberts Jr. goes to Hogan & Hartson, and Associate Counsel Deborah K. Owen joins the D.C. office of a South Carolina firm.
The big question: Whither White House Counsel Fred Fielding and his deputy, Richard Hauser? Neither has yet announced where he will land, but there is talk that they may stick together in the world of private practice.