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

Samuel Kent Judge Samuel B Kent Above the Law blog.jpgAh, to be a federal judge. Life tenure means never having to say you’re sorry (unlike those state judges, like the hat-hating Holly Hollenbeck).
Judge Samuel Kent (S.D. Tex.), who has lawyered up in response to being charged with sexual misconduct by a court employee, is speaking out — sort of. In an interview published earlier this week in the Houston Chronicle, he tried to win some sympathy from the public.
Judge Kent discussed his struggles with alcohol (like Justice Thomas in his recent memoir), his diabetes, and the death of his first wife from brain cancer. But he did not address the substance of the allegations made against him:

“As with every human controversy, there are absolutely two sides to this one, and I will vigorously present mine at the appropriate time,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “It has been extremely frustrating for me, my family and my staff not to be able to speak in my defense.”…

He declined to address specifics of the misconduct allegations against him, citing federal laws that make judicial investigations secret.

So according to Judge Kent, there is another side of the story. As for what exactly it is, stay tuned.
After the jump, selected comments on the story from Houston Chronicle readers.
Kent talks of personal struggles [Houston Chronicle]
U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent Hires Dick DeGuerin, Meets With FBI [Texas Lawyer]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Kent Doesn’t Want Your Sympathy (Or Does He?)”

Last month we asked you which holidays you worked on, or expected to work on, during 2007. About 10% of you reported that you expected to work on Christmas, and roughly 22% expected to work on New Year’s.
You were wrong.
We received about 1,300 responses to last Tuesday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey about whether you did, indeed, work over the holidays. Overall, a little over 36% of you worked at least one of those days. About a quarter of you worked on Christmas, and almost a third of you worked over New Year’s. Broken down by day, 22% of you worked on Christmas Eve, 10% on Christmas Day, 28% on New Year’s Eve, and 15% of you nursed your hangovers in the office on New Year’s Day.
Find out how it broke down by city, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey Results: Got Work?”

The tipster who forwarded this invite to us pretty much said it all: “Weil: Are you joking?”
Weil is currently ranked #9 on the Vault 100. How many spots should they be docked for this?
(In case you’re wondering, yes, we did contact the firm for comment. We did not hear back from them.)
Please join us at our diversity reception for first year law students next Tuesday, January 22nd! Please also note that the time for the reception has changed to 6:00pm to 9:00pm.
Our guest speaker, Star Jones, will be arriving at 6:00pm to mingle, so plan to be there early! Further details are below.
For those of you who cannot view the JPEG, here are the details for the event:
Location: STK
Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Time: 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Special Guest Speaker: Star Jones of truTV (formerly Court TV)
RSVP by Friday, January 18 to [xxxx] or (212) 833-[xxxx]
Legal Recruiting Coordinator
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
767 Fifth Avenue
Star Jones Reynolds [Wikipedia]
Star Jones [official website]

* How many legal blogs can land an interview with Flea? Oh wait — different Flea. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* How is Stoneridge a victory for investors? Our big sibling explains. [DealBreaker]
* How many former law firm partners can claim the distinction of having appeared on the Tyra Banks Show? At least one. [Top of the Ticket / Los Angeles Times]
* How cool is it to be a lawyer? Susan Cartier Liebel opines, over at Blawg Review #142. [Build A Solo Practice via Blawg Review]

Sometimes being named Lawyer of the Day is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. From the AP:

Adam Jones Pacman Jones Above the Law blog.jpgA woman is seeking an arrest warrant against suspended Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones [pictured], claiming he punched her at an Atlanta strip club. Fulton County Magistrate Court officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Wanda S. Jackson asked for the warrant after a Jan. 3 altercation at the Body Tap Strip Club.

Jackson, an attorney, says in her filing that she was in the club’s office when an angry Jones accused managers of stealing his money and bracelet.

“I was sitting in the office and he lunged at me numerous times in an effort to do grave bodily harm,” Jackson wrote in the warrant application filed Jan. 7. “Veronica Jones, an owner, went into the hall to deal with a member of his entourage. I followed to gawk. He was in the hall, surprisingly reached over or around a security guard and sucker punched me in my left eye.”

As for why a female attorney was at a strip club:

WSB-TV in Atlanta reported that Jackson said she was in the strip club because of a divorce case she is handling.

So what’s the over/under on how long it will take Jackson to file a civil suit against Jones?
Woman: Pacman Punched Her at Strip Club [Atlanta Journal Constitution]
Pacman faces trouble again [AP via SI.com]
Wanda Sherelle Jackson [State Bar of Georgia]

Simpson Thacher Bartlett LLP Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAlmost one year ago, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett announced a major associate pay raise, unveiling a new pay scale with a starting salary of $160,000. The move sent tremors throughout Biglaw. Firms in New York quickly followed suit; firms in markets outside New York took longer, but eventually matched (for the most part).
But if you’re looking to STB to lead the market higher still, you’ll be disappointed. Yesterday the firm sent around this memo:

Effective as of January 1, 2008, the annual base salary for each class year will be as follows
Class of 2007 – $160,000
Class of 2006 – $170,000
Class of 2005 – $185,000
Class of 2004 – $210,000
Class of 2003 – $230,000
Class of 2002 – $250,000
Class of 2001 – $265,000
Class of 2000 – $280,000
Class of 1999 – $290,000
Salaries for counsel and classes senior to 1999 will be addressed on an individual basis and discussed with those individuals during the Annual Review process. Increases will be reflected in the January 30, 2008 paycheck.
January 14, 2008

Earlier: Breaking: Simpson Thacher Raises Associate Base Salaries!!!

Lynette Scavo Felicity Huffman cancer bald Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s a quick update about yesterday’s Judge of the Day, the Honorable Holly Hollenbeck. From the Tri-City Herald:

A Benton County judge has apologized for telling a woman with cancer to take a knitted cap off her bald head or leave his courtroom. “Words can’t express how sorry I am,” Judge Holly Hollenbeck told the Herald on Monday, a few hours after he spoke with Bev Williams by phone and offered an unconditional apology.

Hey look! It’s an ATL shout-out:

The story was picked up by Seattle news media, then was spread across the country by The Associated Press. The Drudge Report website, published as a digest of headlines across the nation, reported the story Sunday. A website called Abovethelaw.com also invited comments about the incident, and had drawn more than 60 by Monday evening.

“I’m being vilified,” Hollenbeck said. “I made no excuses to her for my behavior. What happened to her was inexcusable.”

And what about the headgear rule?

Hollenbeck, who is presiding judge for the District Court, said each judge retains discretion on how to enforce rules about hats and appropriate attire in court. “The rule has been changed (in my court),” he said.

So if you ever get to wear your hat in Judge Hollenbeck’s courtroom, you have ATL to thank for it (in part).
Judge apologizes for telling woman with cancer to remove hat [Tri-City Herald]
Earlier: Judge of the Day: Holly Hollenbeck

If you’re a victim of the latest round of associate layoffs at large law firms, we’d like to interview you. The subject of layoffs is an important one, and the legal community is keenly interested in it. But getting firsthand information — from lawyers who have been laid off themselves, as opposed to people who just know things “through the grapevine” — can be tough.
Hence this open call for sources. If you’ve been laid off and would be willing to be interviewed about your situation — and please note, you can remain anonymous — we hope that you’ll drop us a line. You’d be doing a service to your peers and contributing valuable information to the public discourse.
If you’d be willing to chat, please email us, and we can set up a time to talk. Thanks.

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgAs we mentioned last week, McDermott Will & Emery was planning to hold a meeting with associates today about compensation matters. The meeting is over; here’s a brief report:

The MWE associate compensation committee had a videoconference with all associates this morning, where they ate crow about their bonus structure for 2007. They basically said, “we missed the market, we’re sorry, and we’re fixing it.”

They are meeting on January 23rd to set the rate for supplemental bonuses, which will be announced at the end of this month. Apparently the risk of losing all their top billers and having it smeared all over ATL was more than our delicate leadership could handle.

So no numbers yet; expect them near the end of this month. We’ll keep you posted.

Cadwalader Wickersham Taft CWT Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid blog.JPGToday’s Washington Post contains a very interesting article by Ian Shapira (who seems to love writing about lawyers; see here and here). It’s the latest in a series of stories about well-educated young people in the D.C. area. Today’s piece focuses on college-educated twenty-somethings, living in metro areas, who decide to buck the trend and have kids. Shapira writes:

[Erin] Rexroth, a former congressional aide, and her husband, Philip, 27, who works for the Department of Homeland Security, are defying the norm for their class and age group: They are raising a child. The majority of college graduates in their 20s in metropolitan regions postpone having kids until at least their 30s or never have any, according to recent demographic research.

Like anyone who strays from the generational pack, college-educated parents in their 20s often face questions about friendships, careers and their place in life. Although rearing children invigorates them like a high-profile job, these parents sometimes say they feel like guinea pigs among childless peers. They wonder whether it’s possible to befriend older parents. Some say they feel isolated from friends, those who don’t change diapers or deal with sleep deprivation.

Later in the story, an associate at Cadwalader is quoted about how she decided to have kids early so it wouldn’t disrupt her path to partnership as much:

“By the time I’m at a point in my career where I am going to be making partner, my kids are going to be old enough to be playing on their own and sleeping on their own,” said Erin Foley Lewis, 28, an associate at the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft who recently had twins. “If I had waited until 33 to have children, I’d have newborns at the time I would be up for partner.”

Cadwalader — they still make partners over there? They better not get into that habit, or their crazy leverage — and sky-high profits per partner — are sure to fall.
On the bright side, at least Ms. Lewis is (1) in litigation and (2) in Washington. So her chances of being laid off are relatively low.
Bringing Up Babies, And Defying the Norm [Washington Post]

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