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

So far 2014 has been very good to Above the Law. We enjoyed record traffic over the summer, thanks to some big stories. We announced our partnership with How Appealing, Howard Bashman’s superb appellate blog. We have some great events coming up over the next few months, including our Supreme Court event in D.C. and our second annual conference in New York.

As we continue to expand, we’d like to add new voices to our pages. If you might be interested in writing for our pages or working with us as an intern, please keep reading to find out how to apply….

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This looks rather disgusting, but that’s just my (non-actionable) opinion.

As online review sites like Yelp and social-media sites like Twitter continue to grow, free speech issues related to these online services will continue to proliferate. A contentious case currently pending in federal court down in Florida raises a host of interesting issues about the scope of online free speech.

The plaintiff company, Roca Labs, sells a product that you consume for weight-control purposes. If this makes you think of delicious almond roca, think again. Components used by Roca Labs in its diet products include “Guar Gum, Konjac, Inulin, Beta Glucan, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, [and] Vitamins B6, B12, C.” If you don’t recognize most of the ingredients in something you’re consuming, that’s usually not a good sign.

Does the thought of eating that goo make you want to gag? Well, Roca Labs wants to gag you….

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In our last report on the beleaguered Bingham McCutchen, we predicted that its partners would vote in favor of the proposed merger with Morgan Lewis — even if some of them might get de-equitized as a result. Why? Because “it’s not clear that Bingham has better options.”

Talk about understatement. Maybe this is fearmongering to get Bingham partners to approve the deal, but check out what management is saying might happen if this deal doesn’t go through….

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Lisa Blatt and Tom Goldstein

In Washington, D.C., on Monday, October 27, at 6 p.m., we’ll be hosting an awesome Above the Law event: a look at the upcoming Term of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court’s docket grew by 11 cases today (but no action yet on same-sex marriage).

I’ll moderate a discussion featuring two of the nation’s foremost Supreme Court advocates: Lisa Blatt, head of the appellate and Supreme Court practice at Arnold & Porter, and Tom Goldstein, partner at Goldstein & Russell and publisher of SCOTUSblog. Blatt and Goldstein have collectively argued more than 60 times before the Court.

There are many SCOTUS previews taking place around town over the next few weeks, but we promise you that the ATL event will be especially fun and lively. We will offer food, drink, and excellent company.

And the event is free of charge. If you’d like to attend, please request an invite below. Thanks!

Eric Holder

Now that Eric Holder has announced his departure as attorney general, talk has turned to who his successor will be — and should be. Early buzz has centered around Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, but there are other compelling candidates as well, including lots of legal luminaries that Above the Law readers will recognize.

Who will be our nation’s next AG? And who should be the next AG? Let’s discuss….

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There is something admittedly odd about judges on Twitter. The stereotypical judge is stuffy, technologically challenged, and light on personality. Twitter, in contrast, is informal, tech-driven, and brimming over with quirkiness and individuality.

There are, to be sure, virtues to the traditional vision of the judge (well, maybe not the lack of tech savvy, but the other attributes). Judges who are formal, dry, and tight-lipped off the bench convey a strong sense of objectivity to the public and to the litigants who appear before them. These judges might not have much personality, but presumably they don’t have personal biases that would interfere with the impartial administration of justice. You might not want to have a beer with such judges, but you would want them handling your case.

So judicial tweeting might be unusual. Does that make it problematic? Should we have new judicial ethics rules to rein in judges on social media?

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Working at a major law firm can be great — it’s profitable, it’s prestigious, and for some people, it’s fun. But it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Some people view working in Biglaw like eating a bucket of cockroaches. Some people would rather be farming.

And still others would rather get paid to drink beer — which brings us to today’s departure memo, from an associate who left a leading law firm to work in a brewery. No, seriously….

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Earlier this month, we reported on Bingham McCutchen and Morgan Lewis & Bockius’s agreement to merge. The 750-lawyer Bingham firm has been going through a rough patch lately, so news of the deal with 1,200-lawyer Morgan Lewis sounded like a rescue to some observers.

But rescues come with terms and conditions. What are the ones at issue here? There’s good news for some Bingham partners, and bad news for others….

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A Chick-fil-A meal (photo by David Lat).

Joe here. You’re minding your own business, checking your law school email in lieu of listening to the lecture, when an invitation catches your eye. It’s from the local Federalist Society chapter and they’re hosting an event on marriage equality. Fed Soc puts on good events, and unlike a lot of the issues out there, marriage equality is an issue where the organization might have a fair and respectful debate. After all, this is the organization of Ted Olson and Richard Posner as much as it’s the organization of Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito. There’s room under that ideological tent. But you open the email to see an oversized Chick-fil-A logo. Shock jock tactics.

To say that Staci and I disapproved would be an understatement.

Now imagine the event were not about marriage equality. Would it be acceptable to serve Chick-fil-A at a talk on gun control? On eminent domain? Is there ever a time where Chick-fil-A is a “content neutral” noshing option?

I say no. David says yes. We let you in on our argument about this….

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If you’re like me, you’ve been reading Howard Bashman’s excellent appellate litigation blog, How Appealing, for years. When I started to write online more than a decade ago, Howard, a pioneer of legal blogging, was a role model and inspiration. (I pay homage to Howard Bashman and How Appealing with shout-outs in my forthcoming novel.)

Given our longtime admiration of Howard Bashman and How Appealing here at Above the Law, we are absolutely delighted to announce this partnership: effective October 1, 2014, How Appealing will be hosted at howappealing.abovethelaw.com. You can read Howard’s announcement of the affiliation here.

For those of you who love How Appealing and Above the Law as they are, there’s nothing to fear. Howard Bashman will continue to run the web’s top blog devoted to appellate litigation, and we will continue to cover the legal profession here at ATL in our inimitable style. We will display headlines of recent How Appealing posts on ATL, and How Appealing will display headlines of recent ATL posts. The primary change resulting from this partnership will be felt by advertisers, who will now enjoy a broader range of options within the Breaking Media family. If you are interested in advertising on How Appealing, Above the Law, or both, please contact advertising@breakingmedia.com.

Given How Appealing’s record of excellence dating back to 2002, we couldn’t be happier with this partnership. We look forward to working with Howard Bashman and How Appealing in the years ahead.

Announcing the new location of “How Appealing” [How Appealing]

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