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

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgNo, not law firm associates — associates at investment banks. In the absence of more law firm bonus news, let’s talk about your friends and classmates on Wall Street, who are still making way more money than you (assuming they haven’t been laid off; hey, bigger risk, bigger reward).
From Bloomberg News:

Shareholders in the securities industry are having their worst year since 2002, losing $74 billion of their equity. That won’t prevent Wall Street from paying record bonuses, totaling almost $38 billion.

That money, split among about 186,000 workers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos., equates to an average of $201,500 per person, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The five biggest U.S. securities firms paid $36 billion to employees last year.

Discussion continues, after the jump.

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Speaking of the Federalist Society, the Columbia Law School chapter has invited us to speak. We’ll be doing an event there tomorrow. It will be a pretty casual Q-and-A, less formal than last year’s appearance.
Here are the details:

Tuesday, November 20, 12:25 PM

A Q-and-A with David Lat, Editor of Above the Law

Columbia Law School
Jerome Greene Hall, Room 107
435 West 116th St. (at Amsterdam Avenue)

It’s free and open to the public. So if you’re a CLS student or otherwise in the area, please feel free to stop by. Thanks.

Federalist Society gala 2.jpg
At the Federalist Society festivities: Ryan Bounds, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy; Deputy Associate Attorney General John O’Quinn; and Susanna Dokupil, Assistant Solicitor General for the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.
Last week, the Federalist Society celebrated its 25th anniversary, with a black-tie gala at Union Station. The official ATL report, by Laurie Lin, is available here; the account of the Washington Post appears here (via the WSJ Law Blog).
Since we were there also, we figured we might as well add our two cents. Some random tidbits about the evening, along with a few more photos, after the jump.

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associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgPeople who practice intellectual property law tend to be really, really smart. This is a good thing, since you’d have to be a genius to understand the new associate pay plan just announced by Fish & Richardson.
Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But we just couldn’t bother reading a document as long and complex as the Fish & Richardson memo, at least this early in the day; the caffeine from our morning coffee is still working its way through our system.
Fortunately, our sources offered some explanation:

“Attached is the new Fish & Richardson compensation plan. The basically cut salraries by taking around 20k of salary away from each year and then giving it back when you make 2000 hours. Pretty sh**ty for patent prosecutors. Everyone is pretty pissed off about this.”

“I am pissed. Not only are they effectively taking 10k from my pocket because I always bill over 2000 hours, but we don’t get the target bonus or the special bonus. In short, someone from my year will make at least $80,000 more at another firm for hitting 2000 hours.”

To see what’s causing such bitterness, check out the memo, after the jump.

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(And Open Thread for Discussion of Bonuses at IP Shops)”

Mac PC advertisement.gifIt appears that the situation we reported on earlier, concerning the plight of Mac users at American University’s Washington College of Law, has been resolved. Several of you forwarded us an email from the WCL administration outlining the steps they’re taking to address the situation, including “providing $12,000 towards the cost of laptop rental for all upper-level users of MACs that are incompatible with the exam software.”
Some reactions from students:

“At times it has felt like a modern PCU, sans George Clinton of course: ‘These, Tom, are the Causeheads. They find a world-threatening issue and stick with it for about a week.’”

“Although I am not a Mac user, and am fairly tired of hearing Mac users whining at school, it’s good to see my school do the right thing.”

“We just received this email from the Dean. Looks like your post helped us out. Thanks!”

You’re welcome. We aim to please here at ATL.
Read the full email, after the jump.
Earlier: American University MacGate
MacGate Update: An Explanation from the University of Kentucky

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Blawg Review 134 Eric Turkewitz Above the Law blog.jpg* So what are your legal remedies if she cheats on you anyway? [copyranter]
* While we’re visiting copyranter: another day, another animal kingdom law firm ad. [copyranter]
* Did the Fifth Circuit go easy on Judge Kent? There may be more here than meets the eye. [How Appealing]
* Eric Turkewitz delivers a New York City marathon-themed Blawg Review. Very cool! [New York Personal Injury Blog via Blawg Review]
P.S. Speaking of the NYC marathon, thanks to the many ATL readers who supported our efforts to raise funds for cancer research. Our fundraising goal was $2,500; thanks to you, we easily exceeded that goal. Our fundraising page will remain up through the end of the year, and your donations are still welcome. If you’re looking for more tax deductions after getting that big bonus check, just click here.
As for our performance in the marathon, we finished in 4:43:27 (good enough for inclusion in the New York Times marathon results supplement, which includes everyone who finishes in under five hours — sorry, Katie Holmes). We were slower this time around than when we ran it in 2005. But considering that we actually trained in 2005 — unlike this year, when the longest run we did before the marathon was a 10-mile run back in April — we were pleased.

Joshua Sohn Josh Sohn Joshua S Sohn DLA Piper Above the Law blog.jpgLast Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard oral argument in Arar v. Ashcroft, a high-profile lawsuit arising out of the U.S. government’s rendition of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, to Syria.
We interviewed DLA Piper partner Joshua Sohn (at right), co-counsel to Mr. Arar along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, about this interesting case and his firm’s work on it.
For readers who aren’t familiar with the case, what’s it all about?
It’s about the federal government’s extraordinary renditions program, which sends “people of interest” to sites around the world for indefinite detention and interrogation under harsh conditions — in this case torture. Mr. Arar, who is a computer engineer, Canadian citizen, husband, and father of two young children, was pulled out of the immigration line at JFK when he was attempting to change planes, but not enter the United States. Mr. Arar was interrogated at the airport, detained and interrogated at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, and ultimately flown by private jet in the dead of night to Jordan and delivered to Syria. Mr. Arar was never charged with a crime, was not allowed to consult with an attorney for many days when he was first detained and both he and his attorney were lied to about what was going to happen to him and the fact that he was being sent to Syria.
Mr. Arar made plain to those holding him that he feared being tortured in Syria and that he wanted to be sent to Canada-where he lived and was a citizen. Those pleas were ignored and Mr. Arar was sent to Syria where he was tortured and kept in a grave-like cell for almost a year. This case seeks to hold the federal officials who are responsible for Mr. Arar’s treatment, responsible.
Read the rest of the interview, after the jump.

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associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgThe rumors that we mentioned from this morning are true (as rumors so often are). The firm of Schulte Roth & Zabel has made its bonus announcement.
Schulte will pay year-end and special bonuses, according to the now-familiar scale, to associates with 2000 or more “Target Hours.” It will pay additional bonuses to associates who hit 2300 and 2500 Target Hours ($10,000 for the former, and $20,000 for the latter). As the SRZ memo notes, these overworked associates “will, therefore, be paid above market” — which is as it should be, for suffering that is extraordinary even by Biglaw standards.
Update: Okay, as some of you suggest in the comments, 2300-2500 hours may not be “extraordinary.” But it’s certainly higher than average, even in New York. Our basic point is that at least Schulte is providing additional compensation to associates who work longer hours than usual. It’s a nice move.
Check out the memo, after the jump.

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Job of the Week

Here is the latest Job of the Week, courtesy of ATL’s career partner, Lateral Link. Because Lateral Link does no cold-calling and is more efficient than traditional recruiting firms, successful candidates receive $10,000 upon placement.
Position: Corporate Transactional Associate
Location: London
Description: US based international law firm is seeking a junior attorney to join their London office to work on US capital market and international transactions.
Requirements: One year of corporate experience at a US law firm.
To apply for this position, or to learn about other career opportunities, please visit laterallink.com.
Earlier: Prior Job of the Week listings (scroll down)

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s an open thread for discussion of law firm bonus news (and rumor). Our last bonus post has scrolled off the front page of ATL, leaving it bereft of bonus coverage — which is unacceptable, given the many firms that have not yet announced.
We’re hearing rumors of an announcement by Schulte Roth & Zabel. If they’re true, can someone please send us the memo?
Also, you can still vote in our poll about whether New York associates should receive higher bonuses than their non-NYC counterparts. We’ll keep the poll open through the weekend. To vote, click here.

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