In 2008, after Paul Clement left government and prepared to enter private practice again, a former colleague made a comparison that spread Clement’s name even further among laymen: LeBron James.Evan Tager, a partner at Mayer Brown LLP, thought the comparison was apt to when James burst onto the scene coming out of high school and preparing to enter the NBA Draft. The NBA Draft lottery, which consists of a viewers watching which ping-pong balls will come up the chute — was huge.
This, Tager said, was Clement in the legal world. He was coming out of the Solicitor General position under the administration of President George W. Bush. He argued and won controversial cases defending the Bush administration’s war on terror and one that saw the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act upheld. He also argued and won Gonzales v. Raich, which many legal experts cite as an example of why the Affordable Care Act should be upheld.
But with that kind of cred, Tager made the LeBron comparison.
“I knew there would be a massive bidding war and that he would probably break a lot of records in terms of what he could command out of the SG’s office,” Tager told Business Insider.
Except unlike LeBron, Paul Clement can close. And perhaps win.
Tager said Clement commanded $5 million, a figure that has been reported by other media outlets.
Some other Tager quotes on Clement:
• On the first brief he saw written by Clement:
“I saw his brief and I said, ‘God, this guy really gets it.’ I remember calling him up and saying, ‘I just wanted to introduce myself and tell you that you did a great job on this brief.'”
• On what Paul Clement means to the credibility of a case:
“Any time we can get Paul Clement on a brief, we want Paul Clement on a brief. We want the court to read what he’s got to say. You know anything he signs is going to get read.”
• On his legal savvy:
“There’s a lot of insider baseball here, and I think he’s figured it out. And not a lot of people have.”
• Finally, on how he was able to endure the marathon six-hour Supreme Court oral arguments last week seeming unflappable the entire time: “He’s young. I don’t know that they calculated at the time that there would be three days of oral arguments, but it probably helps that he’s that young for that kind of oral argument marathon. Anybody that’s argued before the court knows that it’s an exhausting process. Not just the preparation, but also when you’re on the firing line there and you’re dealing with questions coming from left and right and justices dueling with you.”
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