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A tragic tale

The ABA Journal’s cover story this month examines the tragic story of Mark Levy, the well known Supreme Court litigator who in April took his own life in his Washington, D.C. Kilpatrick Stockton office.

Levy’s death shocked the legal community, and the Journal’s piece examines the factors that could have contributed to it: the bad economy coupled with the increasing pressure on lawyers to not only perform well, but also bring in business.

According to the article, Levy was an excellent practitioner (he is described as one of the nation’s best appellate attorneys) and loved the advocacy work that came with his position as chair of the firm’s Supreme Court practice. (The last case he argued before the Court, Kennedy v. Plan Administrator for DuPont Savings and Investment Plan, resulted in a unanimous win). But what the former law school classmate of Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton did not enjoy was the other requirement of a big firm department head: rainmaking.

“He was a superb lawyer but he wasn’t a business-getter,” says Stephen Bokat, former general counsel of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Levy often wrote amicus briefs on the Chamber’s behalf in business cases – work that was interesting, but not profitable. “No­body gets rich” working for the chamber, Bokat adds.

The full story, a very interesting read, can be found here.

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