After the Supreme Court announced headline decisions on Wal-Mart and climate change on Monday, it was time to make news of a more homespun variety: admitting five brothers to the Supreme Court bar, possibly an all-time record.
Glenn Mitchell, longtime name partner in the D.C. firm of Stein, Mitchell & Muse and a member of the Supreme Court bar since 1964, moved the admission of his sons Christopher, Thomas, Eric, Byron and Michael. He attested -- as he must, according to the script for such motions -- that they had the “necessary qualifications,” namely at least three years in good standing as members of a state bar.
Friendly laughter rose from the spectators gallery as Mitchell named each son. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. smiled as he granted the father's motion, adding a rare personal note. It was a "special occasion," Roberts said, and "appropriate so soon after Father's Day."
Admission to the Supreme Court bar has been a large-family affair before. In 2006, nine members of the Snyder family of West Winfield, N.Y. were sworn in, among them four siblings including two sisters. Nine Perla family members from Buffalo were sworn in in 1994, but that number included four brothers and a sister. So it is possible -- but not certain -- that the five Mitchell brothers are the largest number of male siblings to be sworn in at one time.
The Mitchells grew up in Chevy Chase, Md., all of them attending Georgetown Prep. As each one got to the point of planning a career, the choice always turned out to be the same as that of their father, now 75: becoming a lawyer.
“When we said we were going to law school, everyone joked: ‘that shows a lot of imagination,’” said Christopher, 49, also a partner at Stein, Mitchell & Muse.
Glenn Mitchell shrugged, "I did suggest they think about something else, I really did." But in the end he was glad thay chose the law. "It's a great way to make a living. We're very fortunate." Son Christopher confimed that his father "never pressured us to pursue the law. He took the other tack. He would tell us we should do whatever we wanted."
Thomas, 48, is a partner at Bruce J. Klores & Associates in D.C. Then come twins Eric and Byron, 45. Eric is at Mitchell & Hibey, a small shop also in D.C., and Byron works at Rawls & McNelis in Fredericksburg, VA. Michael Mitchell, 31, is an associate at Boies, Schiller & Flexner in D.C.
Mother Sylvia and sisters Stefanie and Karen round out the immediate family. The women of the family resisted the urge to become lawyers, by the way. Asked Monday about all the lawyers in the family, Sylvia smiled, "I've gotten used to it."
Back at Stein, Mitchell & Muse, father Glenn and son Christopher are not the only Mitchells at the firm. Glenn’s brother Gerard is also a longtime partner, and two of Gerard’s children are on the letterhead: Julie and Denis, both also partners.
Partner and noted trial lawyer Jacob Stein, the former independent counsel and former president of the D.C. Bar, was asked about all his colleagues named Mitchell. “Nepotism gone wild,” Stein joked. He added, “And nepotism working.”
Photo by Tony Mauro