In an article that took two reporters to write, The Washington Post has revealed that — gasp — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren worked as an attorney while also teaching at Harvard Law School and was paid for doing so.
“Sen. Elizabeth Warren worked on more than 50 legal matters during her career as a professor at Ivy League law schools, charging as much as $675 an hour to advise a variety of clients, from people with asbestos disease to a corporation facing possible liability over ruptured breast implants,” read the lede at the Post.
The report is in response to the Warren campaign releasing a list of 56 cases she worked on as an attorney — a higher number than she has previously revealed. Warren had previously been somewhat secretive about her legal work and was chastised by her Republican opponent, then-Sen. Scott Brown. At that time, she only listed 13 cases she had worked on.
In the recent list, Warren naturally casts herself as the hero for the little people — either by saving jobs while representing a company or by advocating for victims of corrupt corporations.
It's possible that this is what happened: A rival campaign tried to make Warren look hypocritical because she charged a lot of money for her services and represented some big companies. The Post took the information but wrote a boring story that doesn’t really say anything good or bad about Warren.
One could make the argument that Warren is a hypocrite for charging so much for her services, but the Post reported she charged up to $675 an hour. There’s no evidence she charged downtrodden clients this much. She was also, according to the Post, a “nationally recognized expert in bankruptcy law.” Someone with that skillset would command a high fee for their services. No one is under the impression that attorneys are cheap.
One could make the argument that Warren is a hypocrite for taking corporate clients, but while Warren has criticized corporations and industries — especially Wall Street — she hasn’t gone so far as to claim corporations or companies are bad.
One could make the argument Warren is being oddly secretive about her legal work, but it’s not like other lawyers who have run for president have been very specific about their work.
Perhaps there was more information that actually could hurt Warren, and this was an attempt by the Post to get ahead of the story. That remains to be seen.
One of Twitter’s most well-known attorneys, @Popehat, gave three suggestions on how the story could have been made “worthwhile.”
“Here's what would have made this story worthwhile: (1) is it unusual for profs to represent clients? (2) is that rate unusual or above/below market? (3) do any legal experts see anything questionable about any of this?” he asked.
The answer to question one appears to be “no.” Harvard professor and faculty dean of Winthrop House, Ronald Sullivan Jr., has been representing clients while working for the college (he’s in the news because students successfully got him removed as dean for representing Harvey Weinstein) and no one's batted an eye.
As for question three, criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield said “no.”
“There is absolutely nothing unusual or remotely wrong about this. Nor should there be,” he tweeted.
Perhaps the real point of the piece was to get people to defend Warren.