David Lat

David Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, New York magazine, Washingtonian magazine, and the New York Observer. Prior to ATL, he launched Underneath Their Robes, a blog about federal judges. Before entering the journalism world, he worked as a federal prosecutor in Newark, New Jersey; a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, in New York; and a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. David graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. He has received several awards for his work on ATL, including recognition as one of the American Lawyer’s Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years; one of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels, a group of pioneers within the legal profession; and one of the Fastcase 50, "the fifty most interesting, provocative, and courageous leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology." His first book, Supreme Ambitions: A Novel, will be published in 2015. You can connect with David on Twitter and Facebook.

Posts by David Lat

Lawyers and reality television: a match made in heaven? Some might regard Andi Dorfman, the beautiful Atlanta prosecutor turned Bachelorette, as a goddess (and some might disagree).

Talk of paradise brings us to the latest high-profile reality TV offering: Utopia. This “big, bold, and expensive” Fox show debuted last night to ratings described as “not ideal.” The premise of the show: drop 15 people into an isolated five-acre camp in the California wilderness, with no internet, electricity, or plumbing, and watch these “founding fathers and mothers” try to “form a new society and rethink all the fundamental tenets of civilization.”

An Above the Law reader who watched the first episode described Utopia as “a complete train wreck.” But at least it’s a train wreck featuring a lawyer — a rather attractive lawyer, in fact….

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Last week, we asked readers to submit possible captions for this picture:

Let’s have a look at what our readers came up with, and vote on the finalists…

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Hop in the DeLorean and travel back in time with us.

We’ve been enjoying the occasional trip back in time to look at Biglaw in ages past. In prior Flashback Friday posts, we’ve covered such topics as the most prestigious law firms in 1998 and billable hours in the 1990s.

And, of course, we have covered compensation. We’ve done two posts so far looking at associate comp in the 1990s, in New York and in other cities — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles.

Today we’ll close out the series with an overview of associate pay in the remaining markets of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco/Palo Alto, and Washington, D.C….

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[T]he solution to the knot [of complex legal problems] has been to add more string. Simply adding more lawyers and compliance professionals will only create far worse, more complicated and more costly problems.

Geoffrey A. Moore, author of the bestselling Crossing the Chasm (affiliate link) and other books, and Mark Harris, CEO of Axiom, in an interesting DealBook piece about the need to rethink the current model for delivery of legal services.

We love fun photographs of federal judges here at Above the Law. It’s interesting to see what judges look like when they’re off the bench. What do Their Honors have going on underneath their robes? Inquiring minds want to know.

Today we have some random Friday fun for you. The latest picture for an ATL caption contest features a prominent federal judge in an unusual situation….

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Judge Richard Posner

* A unanimous Seventh Circuit panel, in an opinion by Judge Posner, just struck down Wisconsin and Indiana’s bans on same-sex marriage. The result isn’t surprising in light of the blistering benchslaps delivered by Judge Posner at oral argument, but the timing is faster than usual (for a federal appellate opinion in a high-profile case, not for the prolific Posner). [BuzzFeed]

* Bad news for Cahill Gordon: the Third Circuit just revived a fraud case against the high-powered firm and one of its clients, a unit of BASF. [WSJ Law Blog]

* And badder news for BP: a federal judge just concluded that the oil giant was grossly negligent in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. [New York Times]

* Freshfields gets fresh talent, adding former Wachtell partner Mitchell Presser and former Skadden partner James Douglas to its ranks. [American Lawyer]

* The dean of Seton Hall Law, Patrick Hobbs, will step down from the deanship at the end of the current academic year. Congratulations to Dean Hobbs on a long and successful tenure. [South Orange Juice]

* And congratulations to John Grisham and Jason Bailey, winners of, respectively, the 2014 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and the 2014 ABA Journal/Ross Short Fiction Contest. [ABA Journal]

* Brittany McGrath, Brooklyn Law class of 2014, RIP. [TaxProf Blog]

Contrary to the cliché, sometimes the acorn does fall far from the tree. Very, very far.

Let’s play a game of word association. If I were to toss out “ACORN” — as in the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, not the nut — what would come to mind?

Controversy? Certainly.

Scandal? Sure.

People in need of low-income housing? Why not.

You probably wouldn’t blurt out, “27-foot-wide, $21 million townhouse in the West Village”….

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The ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” has been wildly successful, raising more than $107 million to support the nonprofit and its great work fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The success even prompted the association to file trademark applications for “Ice Bucket Challenge” and “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” (ultimately withdrawn, so as not to stop other worthy causes from using the challenge).

As we reported last month, the Ice Bucket Challenge has been very popular within the legal profession. Even your Above the Law editors got into it. I was challenged by Travis Lenkner of Gerchen Keller Capital, the litigation finance firm, and I responded to that challenge by making a donation in lieu of icing myself. I then challenged my colleague Staci Zaretsky, who responded by dumping ice on herself (and contributing too).

We were joined by many other lawyers and law students in this endeavor. Here’s a round-up of Ice Bucket Challenges from around the legal world….

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Sleep with the case files, Your Honor, and not with the interns.

For some judges, especially judges coming out of private practice, taking the bench means a better lifestyle and shorter hours. But other judges work hard — very hard.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit is famous for his work ethic — and for how hard he works his clerks. Judge Mark Bennett of Iowa warns clerkship applicants, “I am looking for a clerk that is willing to work harder than they have ever worked in their life…. If they are one of those life must be balanced folks please don’t waste my time and don’t bother applying.”

Some chambers are well-equipped for long hours. They come with kitchenettes for cooking, showers for bathing (generally reserved for the judges), and couches for napping. And maybe more than napping….

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Professor Tim Wu

* Could Columbia law professor Tim Wu become New York’s next lieutenant governor? He has a shot, according to the Times. [New York Times]

* Which same-sex-marriage case is the best vehicle for Supreme Court review? [BuzzFeed]

* A federal judge takes the wheel in steering Detroit into the future. [American Lawyer]

* Is it “shameful” of the ALS Association to attempt to trademark the phrase “ice bucket challenge”? [ABA Journal]

* Jury deliberations are expected to begin today in the corruption trial of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. [Washington Post]

* Voter ID laws are back on trial, this time in Texas. [New York Times]

* Speaking of Texas, the state seeks to stay a recent ruling that struck down the requirement that abortion clinics comply with standards for ambulatory surgical centers. [ABA Journal]

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