Today’s New York Times contained a great feature story by Alexandra Alter about Supreme Ambitions and its publisher — Ankerwycke, the new trade imprint of the American Bar Association devoted to legal fiction and more accessible nonfiction. As the Times observes, Ankerwycke is a noteworthy departure for the ABA, “whose publishing arm is known for handbooks like the 1,400-page Compendium of State Certificate of Title Laws.”
The Times notes that Supreme Ambitions has been eagerly anticipated within legal-nerd circles: “[F]or an elite niche — consisting largely of federal judges and their clerks — Supreme Ambitions has become the most buzzed-about novel of the year.”
Here are some additional highlights from the article. There are some kind words about me:
Mr. Lat, a lawyer turned blogger, has captivated the legal world for years with his gossipy websites, Above the Law, and before that, Underneath Their Robes, an irreverent, anonymous blog about the federal judiciary. He’s gained a large and loyal following among employees at big corporate law firms and even Supreme Court justices with his catty take on the profession….
Based on early reviews, [the book is] likely to be a hit with its elite target audience: The cover of Supreme Ambitions has rapturous blurbs from three sitting federal judges.
In reporting the article, Alexandra Alter spoke to additional federal judges — including one of my favorites, the fabulous Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw (whom I interviewed for Underneath Their Robes back in the day). From the Times:
“Only a true insider could have written this book,” said Judge Kim Wardlaw, a Ninth Circuit judge based in Pasadena, Calif., where the story is set. Judge Wardlaw said she recognized several of her colleagues in the story, and noted that while she isn’t depicted in the book, she didn’t emerge entirely unscathed: The opulent décor in the fictional judge’s “jewel box of a chambers” is suspiciously similar to her own chambers, which Mr. Lat has visited, she said.
Guilty as charged: when I visited Judge Wardlaw’s magnificent chambers a number of years ago, I thought to myself that it deserved to be in a novel or a movie.
The article closes, fittingly enough, with comment from the great judge for whom I clerked, Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain. Said Judge O’Scannlain of Supreme Ambitions, summarizing sentiment among his colleagues on the Ninth Circuit, “We’re all delighted with it. It’s making the monastic world of appellate judges not only interesting but suspenseful.”
Thank you, Your Honor! And thanks to the New York Times and to Alexandra Alter for covering Supreme Ambitions and the intimate, intriguing world of the appellate courts with such thoroughness and care.
You can (and should) read the full Times article — which includes lots of other fun details, including quotes from Judge Alex Kozinski, who just passed the gavel as chief judge to Judge Sidney Thomas, and Scott Turow, the bestselling and critically acclaimed legal novelist — via the link below.
Pleasing the Court With Intrigue [New York Times]
The New York Times Book Review Podcast: December 7, 2014 [New York Times (discussion of Supreme Ambitions starts at 22:30]