The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Research opportunity on history of US Attorney for D.C.

A loyal reader sends in this letter regarding a research opportunity for students:

Hey Greg,

I thought I’d write you because of your southern California contacts. Despite the current turmoil at universities with a transition to online work, I’ve had nine students volunteer in the past week. I’ve already contacted all the DC area schools and schools outside DC whose graduates were among the officeholders.

I am writing to seek your aid in identifying some students who may be willing to work on this project.

The project is to research and write the biographies of the 48 men and women who have served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from the first one in 1801 to the present. It will be published as a book by the Historical Society for the D.C. Circuit (whose members have volunteered to doing final editing). Some of it, or all of it, will also be published on the Society’s webpage. The Society, by the way, was founded by then-Judge Ginsberg 30 years ago this year.

We have had a number of Associates, paralegals, legal assistants, and summer interns with this firm researching and writing. And we had a number of summer interns (both college students and law students) from the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office help us last summer. Of the 48 biographies, we no longer need any researching or writing on 21. This leaves 27.

We’d like to accelerate our process by seeking help from history or government students -- or others of course (for example, there may be students in other disciplines or some recent grads, or people in Archives, who may be interested).

Of the 27 biographies yet to be completed, we have done basic research on all of them, and extensive research on many of them. There should be some U.S. Attorneys who may be of interest, either because of the time period in which they worked and lived, the cases they handled, or some other criterion. Particularly attractive might be the living former U.S. Attorneys who need to be interviewed: Joseph diGenova, Eric Holder, Jeffrey Taylor, and Channing Phillips.

This should be a good project because:

--we’re looking at a chapter-length work product; typically, we’re looking for about 6,000 words of manuscript, richly illustrated, and the final product will be richly illustrated and under 2,000 words;

--each biography obviously is discrete, well-defined;

--there is the opportunity to interview;

--the students can utilize all of the research already compiled;

--the students will have our written guidance on what material is needed and what resources are available;

--their work will be edited by name partner Chris Todd and me; (Chris published a book in 1987 with the Second Circuit Historical Society for the first 100 years of the Southern District of New York, and then I worked with him on publishing a book three times that size in 2014 covering 225 years of that Office); and,

--since the book will be published sooner rather than later, they can include in their CVs an entry like this: “George Morris Fay (1909-1957, U.S. Attorney 1946-1951)” in K. Chris Todd, ed., The United States Attorneys for the District of Columbia: 1801-2020 (48 biographies; forthcoming from the Historical Society of the D.C. Circuit).

Of course, I’d be happy to talk to you, or anyone you may suggest, about this.

We do not offer any compensation. Perhaps a student could obtain academic credit, either by submitting a paper as part of a regular course, or submitting a paper as part of a writing-only course, or this could qualify as an internship.

As for timeline: It would be great to receive draft biographies staggered over the next few months, extending into the summer. I am reaching out to a dozen universities, many of whom have graduates among these 48 officeholders.



James M. Thunder, Attorney

Sumner Square | 1615 M Street, N.W. | Suite 400 | Washington, DC 20036

cellphone: 703.472.7150

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