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 Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Observer, Washingtonian magazine, and New York magazine. 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." You can connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

Posts by David Lat

* And don’t forget the inevitable obesity lawsuits. [West Virginia Record]
* Lawyers, swords and money — or, an interesting look at the specialty of nonprofit law. [Michael Gross]
* Surprisingly successful defense to meth charges: “I did it for my dog.” [Blogonaut]
* There’s more to south Florida than bikini-clad hotties — like a vibrant legal blogging scene. [National Law Journal]
* LLB vs. JD debate = Canadian email clusterf**k. [ReportOnBusiness.com]
* Bet you didn’t know: today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. [Rainbow Law Center; Transgender Workplace Diversity via Blawg Review]

Hogan Hartson LLP Above the Law blog.JPGRemember those strange radio advertisements about Hogan & Hartson? We discussed them here and here. The ads went something like this:

Did you hire a Hogan and Hartson senior partner for bet the company liltigation? Was your case handled by a junior lawyer instead of the senior partner you thought you were paying for? Call 800-759-8611.

Well, Peter Lattman and the WSJ Law Blog have gotten to the bottom of this oddness. It turns out the ads, which ran in print as well as on the radio, were financed by a company called General Steel. Earlier this year, General Steel sued Hogan, alleging fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract. From the Law Blog:

In July a judge in Denver dismissed all but one of the claims against Hogan and sent the remaining claim — essentially a fee dispute — to arbitration. Hogan says General Steel owes the firm around $300,000; General Steel wants its money back and more. Click here for the judge’s order; and here for the judge’s order denying General Steel’s motion for reconsideration. General Steel is also appealing the judge’s ruling.

Hogan & Hartson says it’s not surprised by the Times ad, which has also run in D.C. newspapers (and on the radio). During the settlement negotiations, Hogan says that Knight had threatened a “shock and awe” campaign against Hogan if it didn’t pay General Steel money to settle its claims.

We are “shock[ed] and awe[d]” — by the tackiness of General Steel. If we’re ever in the market for prefabricated commercial steel buildings, they’re definitely not getting our business.
Hell Hath No Fury Like a Dissatisfied Hogan & Hartson Client [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Remember Those Weird Radio Ads Mentioning Hogan & Hartson?
Lawsuit of the Day: Have You Been Injured… By Hogan & Hartson?

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgSorry, we don’t have any memo (and we don’t know if there will ever be one). But we can confirm for you that the New York office of WilmerHale announced bonuses yesterday.
We’ve been informed that the bonuses are at market levels (year-end and special). The announcement was made yesterday at a live meeting.
One tipster tells us that making the announcement at a meeting, rather than via memo, is firm tradition. But taking the meeting route does lend itself to this speculation:

I can only imagine WilmerHale didn’t distribute memos because they don’t want to create enmity in their DC/Boston offices.

The D.C. and Boston associates are going to find out anyway. So why not bite the bullet, and make a firm-wide announcement (a la Sidley)?
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch 2007 archives (scroll down)

Joseph Russoniello Joe Russoniello Cooley Godward Kronish Abovethelaw Above the Law online legal tabloid.jpgThis is old news. But since we covered the rumors of his possible nomination so extensively (here, here, and here), we thought we’d update you: Joseph Russoniello has been officially nominated to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).
An interesting angle on his nomination: Did it play any role in the timing of the Barry Bonds indictment? See here.
Joe Russoniello Appointed US Attorney for California’s Northern District [Blogonaut]
More White House Nominations For Top Justice Posts [WSJ Law Blog]
Timing of Bonds’s Indictment FeedsSpeculation [New York Times]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgAs we mentioned earlier, we’re paying a visit today to Columbia Law School. We’re giving a talk and then going to lunch. So we’ll be out of pocket for a while; some content may be posted in our absence, but it won’t be bonus-related.
Here’s an open thread for talk about bonuses. We’re getting close to Thanksgiving, and the week is beginning to slow down, so we’re expecting some movement soon. Law firms like to make these announcements when they think no one’s paying attention (which is why Friday afternoon is such a prime time for such news).
If you have bonus news or a memo to share, please contact us. We’ll follow up when we return. Thanks.
P.S. Yes, we’ve seen the rumors in the comments of a WilmerHale – New York announcement (supposedly oral, no memo). But we’re not putting it on the main page until some identifiable sources at WH contact us with details and confirmation. If the firm wants the world to think that it still belongs on the List of Shame, that’s perfectly fine by us.
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch 2007 archives (scroll down)

Rachel Paulose Rachel K Paulose Rachel Kunjummen Paulose Above the Law blog.jpgMany tipsters have written in to ask us why we haven’t written about a certain delicious DOJ diva: U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose (D. Minn.), who has just been reassigned to Main Justice. From the New York Times:

The embattled United States attorney in Minnesota announced today that she would be stepping down to go work at the Justice Department in Washington on legal policy issues.

The announcement by the prosecutor, Rachel K. Paulose, 34, came in the wake of reports of new staff turmoil in her office, with at least one senior lawyer resigning from his management post in Minneapolis on Friday in a protest over her leadership. Three other managers gave up their administrative jobs in a similar protest in April.

Her resignation message appears here.
Some of you claim that we overuse the term “diva.” But diva is as diva does:

In an unusual public statement on a conservative blog last week, Ms. Paulose suggested that she was a victim of “McCarthyite hysteria that permits the anonymous smearing of any public servant who is now, or ever may have been, a member of the Federalist Society, a person or faith and/or a conservative (especially a young, conservative woman of color).”

For more evidence of diva-hood, see Eric Blank:

Paulose alienated most of the office staff with a leadership style that was described as insulting, an inability to listen respectfully to opinions that ran contrary to her own. Recently, she has been under investigation by two federal agencies for a series of alleged misdeeds, mostly involving the way she treated the staff but also her alleged improper handling of classified national security materials. She was also the subject of a very negative job review, based substantially on her management style.

One tipster writes, referring back to the controversy over her allegedly extravagant investiture as U.S. Attorney: “A diva reassigned. Will she have a coronation when she gets back to DC?”
Lots of links and more discussion, including disclosure about our prior interactions with Ms. Paulose, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “DOJ Diva of the Day: Rachel Paulose”

In terms of feeding his current crop of clerks to the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Judge Michael Boudin (1st Cir.) is batting 1.000. We received this tip from multiple sources, but here’s the most interesting iteration:

Moshe Spinowitz (HLS ’06/Boudin) has been hired by Justice Scalia for October 2008. Spinowitz, or Spino, as he’s known, was originally hired by Judge Luttig before he left the bench.

Moshe Spinowitz Antonin Scalia clerk hottie Above the Law blog.jpgAh, that makes more sense. Boudin —> Scalia is not a typical path. And with the addition of Spinowitz, half of the Scalia chambers for OT 2008 will have hailed from Boudinville.
(Justice Scalia previously hired Spinowitz’s co-clerk, Yaakov Roth. But with all due respect to Chief Judge Boudin, he may not deserve much credit for feeding Roth. When you’re the rara avis of an HLS summa, you can clerk on the Bergen County traffic court and still make it to One First Street.)
Another interesting factoid, considering Justice Scalia’s weakness for Catholic kids as clerks:

Spinowitz is the second orthodox Jew Justice Scalia has hired this term (the other being Yaakov Roth). I guess the moral of the story is: If you’re an orthodox Jew, try to clerk for Judge Boudin!

If his photograph (at right) is even vaguely accurate, and if he’s 5’11″ or taller, the handsome Spinowitz has a promising career as a male model. But in the meantime, we’re sure that he’ll enjoy being a SCOTUS clerk. Congrats, Moshe!
The current tally of OT 2008 Supreme Court clerks, with Mr. Spinowitz added, appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: OT 2008 (Update #8)”

California Bar Exam Golden Gate Bridge Above the Law blog.jpgAs many of you have pointed out to us, New York wasn’t the only state to release bar exam results last week. Another big state weighed in: California.
Several of you, accusing us of East Coast bias, have asked us why we haven’t put up a post for discussion of the California bar exam. We don’t really know what there is to discuss. After all, as far as we know, there were no massive technological screw-ups, a la Laptopgate in New York.
Also, Kathleen Holtz did not follow in the footsteps of Paulina Bandy. The 18-year-old law school graduate passed the big test, on her first try.
But prove us wrong. Maybe there is something interesting to say about the CA bar exam. The comments are your playground.
18-Year-Old Kathleen Holtz Passes the California Bar [WSJ Law Blog]

James Sandman James J Sandman Jim Sandman Above the Law Blog.jpgRemember James Sandman? Oh no, you don’t? Well, surely you remember the Arnold & Porter partner’s infamous essay, The High Price of Escalating Associate Salaries, which he wrote while president of the D.C. bar.

Jim Sandman’s article, dishing out harsh criticism of law firm associate pay raises, did not endear him to ATL readers. In a near comments clusterf**k, he was condemned as the greediest of greedy Biglaw partners (along with other epithets not fit for printing here).

Well, maybe Sandman has gotten a bad rap. After all, he was public-spirited enough to serve as president of the D.C. bar. When we met him at this party, one of many charitable functions he attends, he didn’t have horns growing out of his head.

And now we hear that he’s leaving his lucrative partnership, to toil in the considerably less profitable precincts of the D.C. public school system. He’s accepted a position as General Counsel for the District of Columbia Public Schools, and he’ll also be a member of Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s senior leadership team to the DC School Board.

Read the A&P memo announcing Sandman’s departure, from firm chairman Thomas Milch, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Jim Sandman Isn’t as Greedy as You Thought”

A photo op with two of the nation’s most distinguished jurists: Ninth Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Alex Kozinski!
(Judge Reinhardt seemed a bit skittish about the taking of this picture, but Judge Kozinski’s enthuasism was infectious. Or maybe it was just hard for Judge Reinhardt to say no to the incoming Chief Judge of the court.)
Federalist Society gala 3.jpg

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