Two lawyers from same firm tapped for federal appeals court

President Obama seems to be picking up the pace for judicial nominations, but two of his recent choices to fill vacancies on the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals added a new wrinkle for the cognoscenti to ponder: The two nominees are partners at the same law firm, Munger, Tolles & Olson, the Los Angeles Times’ L.A. Now blog reports.

Their tag team goes back a ways, according to their bios on Munger Tolles’ website. Michelle T. Friedland, a litigator in the San Francisco office, and John B. Owens, who does the same at the firm’s Los Angeles office, both are 41 years old, both graduated from Stanford Law School (he No. 1 in 1996 and she No. 2 in 2000), both clerked on federal appeals courts (she the D.C. Circuit, he the 9th Circuit), and both clerked at the U.S. Supreme Court (she for Sandra Day O’Connor and he for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.)

Longtime judicial politics watcher Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, in Virginia, told the Times that picking two lawyers from the same firm at the same time for the same bench is rare.

“It probably says that the firm has many strong attorneys and that it is well-connected politically,” Tobias said.

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