Warner Todd Huston
Media only just notices Obama has thin resume?
By Warner Todd Huston
November 20, 2008

Interestingly, Dan Morain of the L.A. Times had discovered back in April that Barack Obama has a pretty thin resume prior to being elevated to the presidency. Between 1993 and '96, Obama, the much-ballyhooed "Constitutional scholar," had only an unusually low 3,723 billable hours of legal work accrued over a four-year stint with his law firm employer Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Gallard. Further, he seems to have worked on but few cases and made little impact commensurate with his reputation. Yet, just this month the Orlando Sentinel decides to re-print the Morain piece. The question I have, of course, is why is the Orlando Sentinel only NOW interested that Obama was "involved in relatively few cases before entering politics"? Where was this investigating before the election?

The Morain piece begins by recounting how Obama has so often made a big deal out of his days as a "civil-rights attorney" claiming it a key ingredient of his early, formative community development years. Yet, Morain finds that there isn't much record proving that Obama did a whole heck-of-a-lot back in those days. (bold mine)

    Senior attorneys at the small firm where he worked say he was a strong writer and researcher, but was involved in relatively few cases before entering politics.

So, Obama, for all his claims of being involved in the lives of "churches and community groups" as a lawyer with the firm is... what? Blowing smoke? If the paper trail reveals he didn't work on many cases or have very many billable hours, how is it that he found this experience to be a monumental involvement in the community that shaped his career?

Morain doesn't directly ask these questions in his piece, wisely preferring to let the facts talk to the reader. But, a careful read of his L.A.Times piece cannot help but elicit the pertinent question: what the heck was Obama doing during those four years, anyway? After all, it sure doesn't look like he was doing much legal work!

Here's how Morain sums up Obama's paper trail:

    30: The approximate number of legal cases Obama was involved in:

    4: The number of years Obama was a full-time lawyer

    70%: The amount of time Obama spent on voting rights, civil rights and employment, generally as a junior associate. (The rest of his time was spent on matters related to real-estate transactions, filing incorporation papers and defending clients against minor lawsuits.)

    3,723: The number of billable hours Obama accrued while working at Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Gallard.

According to Morain, some of Obama's "big" cases were the case of a shortchanged babysitter, the case of a cold building tenant, and a lawsuit against a corporation that owned low-income housing on behalf of a guy that slipped and fell down. Additionally, Obama was involved in the enforcement of the federal Motor Voter law in Illinois — at lest that one being a higher profile case.

So, it appears Obama has less billable hours during those four years than most young lawyers are expected to accrue (which is up to 2,000 hours a year according to some estimates), worked on but few cases, and only on one notable one. On top of that, he was rarely more than a "junior associate" the whole time.

This is the man that was praised for his extensive legal career? A slighted babysitter and a guy that fell down are the amazing legal challenges he faced as a young lawyer?

Of course, the biggest question is, why are we only now seeing this report from the L.A. Times? Where was this report two months ago or more?

Need I even ask?

© Warner Todd Huston


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Warner Todd Huston

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