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

S&C swag 1 small.jpgOur earlier open thread, about exam time “care packages” from law firms, remains active — over a week after it was posted. So we thought we’d do a follow-up, on what law firms are sending recruits for holiday gifts.
From one tipster:

How about a piece on what law firms are offering law students as Christmas gifts? I received a package from Nixon Peabody (where everyone’s a winner). It was a gray scarf, made in the USA with imported polyester (no s**t!) — and, of course, Nixon Peabody’s logo imprinted on it. I can always use a scarf, even if it is polyester, and the logo comes off with a knife (scraping).

And, of course, the market leader in swag — Sullivan & Cromwell, provider of the famed bonsai trees — is getting into the holiday spirit:

Attached are some pictures of the S&C holiday / exam swag (above right; thumbnail image, click to enlarge). It all came in a comically large box which I was hoping would lead to much jealousy from my roommates. Unfortunately, inside was a quite standard mug, hot chocolate, cookie combo – and, in a box of its own, a large, reversible fake wool blanket. On the reverse the blanket is a kind of synthetic raincoat material. Strange.

So what did your law firm, a former and/or future employee, send you to welcome the holiday season? Feel free to share in the comments.
(A picture of the “comically large” packaging, after the jump.)
Earlier: Does Your Law Firm Love You? An Open Thread on Exam Time Swag

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Holiday Swag: What Did You Get?”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgInformation is now trickling in about bonuses at Kirkland & Ellis. Last week we had heard — through the grapevine, from a social acquaintance of a K&E share partner — that they would be good. It appears that the scuttlebutt was correct.
A K&E source in Chicago, class of 2006, reports hours of 2050 and a bonus of $45,000. That would be market in New York ($35K year-end + $10K special). But in Chicago, it’s definitely above market.
A K&E source in New York advises as follows about New York bonus levels:

Overall bonuses were well over market. Exact numbers are hard to give… but about 60% were over market, with the rest mostly being with the market.

Out of the first years (class of 2006), 21 out of 36 people were above the market. After that, the ratio really increased as to the number of people who beat the market.

Congratulations, Kirkland associates, on your bountiful bonuses!
If you work at K&E, feel free to provide your bonus info in the comments. When it comes to bonus data points, the more the merrier. Thanks.
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: A Pre-Announcement from Kirkland & Ellis

* If you want to run a “pump and dump” scheme, this is how you do it. [DealBreaker]
* She was only carrying the knife to defend herself — from the bullies who would beat her up for having a brown bag lunch containing steak. [Overlawyered]
* If you ditch the law for the lucrative land of private equity, maybe you too can someday plunk down $21.3 million for a copy of the Magna Carta. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Blawg Review 139, this week replete with “sphincter-tightening.” [Legal Literacy via Blawg Review]
* A shout-out to ATL form the ABA Journal, in an item about lowball bonuses. [ABA Journal]
* Speaking of the ABA Journal — we don’t want to get complacent, lest we get ambushed. Please vote for ATL! Thanks. [ABA Journal]

Monday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, which is still open, asks you how big your bonus was (or is going to be).
We’re still accepting responses to the survey — to participate, click here — and now we’re at around 1,100 participants. So we’ve made slight updates to the New York numbers to reflect fresh data.
After New York, the most responses have come from Washington, DC, so today’s chart includes that city. Not surprisingly, the bonus ranges in Washington generally fall somewhere between New York and the national average.
Check them out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey Results: Bonuses (Washington, DC)”

Kwanzaa Happy Kwanzaa Above the Law blog.jpgWe see that the WSJ Law Blog has beaten us to this subject. We’ve had this post ready for a while; unfortunately, technical difficulties have prevented us from posting for the past hour.
The WSJ folks have already presented some of the cards that we were going to cover. But here are a few firm holiday greetings not on their list (click on each firm name to see their card):

1. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft: Trying too hard, sort of like their Wild West-themed holiday party? Then again, it must have been fun for those underemployed structured finance associates to try their hand at web design.

2. Dewey & LeBoeuf: Not trying hard enough? This may take subtlety and understatement too far, to the point of banality. But at least the card’s not signed “Sieg heil.”

3. Schottenstein Zox & Dunn: This firm, which has about 110 lawyers in three Ohio cities and Raleigh, NC, explains in its cover email that it “strive[s] to approach life and law from a different perspective.” So they designed not one but TWO holiday videos. You can view them, and vote for your favorite, over here. We’re partial to the video of the skateboarding attorneys, which must have been a challenge to film.

For each vote, the firm will donate $1 to Project Mentor Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Ohio. How nice! (But it’s too bad you have to provide your name and email address to vote, which will probably depress voter turnout.)

Update: It appears that the WSJ’s link to the holiday card of Grodsky & Olecki, an entertainment law boutique, is broken. We’ve posted the card, which we also received, after the jump.

Law Blog Law Firm Holiday Cards Of the Day [WSJ Law Blog]

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Holy Grail Biglaw Partner Law Firm Partnership Above the Law blog.jpgIt’s the end of the year, and the partnership announcements are trickling in. Some are being made externally, on law firm websites. Others are being made internally, with external announcements to follow in January.
Although many of them are sent to us, a specific firm’s partnership announcement isn’t typically of interest to us (unless there’s something independently interesting about the person making partner — drop us a line a few years from now, when Aquagirl or Loyola 2L makes partner). But we are interested in what people think generally about partnership prospects these days. So here is an open thread for discussion of the subject.
To kick off the discussion, here’s a tip we received about Paul Weiss, which recently announced its new partners:

You should do an open thread about associates who have been told year after year that they were “on track” and then were totally screwed and passed over for partner. For example, for the second year in a row, Paul Weiss passed over people who were the “shoe-ins” for partner and told for years that they would make it. Two of the most egregious examples in the past two years involve women. Both women are extremely talented and have outstanding track records so it came as a complete shock to the associates. In fact, as a female mid-level associate, it makes me think, why the hell am I staying here?

(We contacted the firm for comment, but they did not get back to us.)
We’re also curious about how many associate readers of ATL think they’ll make partner. So here is today’s featured survey, brought to you by ATL and Lateral Link:
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry Chief Justice Loyola 2L Lawyer of the Year Above the Law blog.jpgLast week, the ABA Journal named former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales its 2007 Lawyer Legal Newsmaker of the Year. Now we bring you news of two more Lawyers of the Year.
The National Law Journal went highbrow and international. The NLJ selected Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the former Chief Justice of Pakistan, as its Lawyer of the Year:

Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is not exactly a household name to the legal profession in the United States. We think he should be.

Chaudhry, the chief justice of Pakistan who was dismissed from office by President Pervez Musharraf after the imposition of emergency rule, has been a strong voice for the preservation of the rule of law in Pakistan — one of the United States’ key allies in the war on terror.

Meanwhile, the WSJ Law Blog stayed domestic. Their honoree may be, for better or worse, more well-known that former Chief Justice Chaudhry (at least to readers of ATL). Their pick: celebrity commenter Loyola 2L!

[W]hen the nominees were put to an unscientific vote, Loyola 2L won in a landslide…. And before you start whining, “But he’s not even a lawyer!,” we never said we were strict constructionists!

So who — or what — is Loyola 2L? For the non-cognoscenti, he, or she, is purportedly a second-year student, or “2L,” at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. And his claim to fame? For over a year, Loyola 2L has beaten a loud and consistent drum of discontent around the Web by posting in online forums about the job prospects for graduates of nonelite law schools.

If you’re hoping that this honor will bring Loyola 2L to unmask himself (or herself), don’t hold your breath:

[W]hile he’s presumably a “3L” by now, he still clings to the moniker. And anonymity. In responding to a call to identify himself he said, “Outing myself . . . would only add to the current difficulties in my life.”

For today, L2L, put the complaining on hold, and bask in the limelight. You’ve earned it!
P.S. Thanks for all of your nominations for ATL’s own Lawyer of the Year contest. We’ll put up the poll shortly.
The Lawyer of the Year: Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [National Law Journal]
The Law Blog Lawyer Of the Year: Loyola 2L [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: ATL Lawyer of the Year: Nominations, Please

Okay, she didn’t quite say that. But, for the record, the woman accused of groping Santa Clause denies the allegations, claiming that she never ever sat on his lap:

“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if he was confused, it was a false report,” Sandrama Lamy, 33, said this morning.

Lamy said she was window shopping at the mall Saturday with a friend when she decided to get a picture with a man playing Santa Claus.

A woman — apparently working with the mall Santa — made a comment after the picture was snapped, Lamy said.

groping grope molest molesting Santa Clause Above the Law blog.jpg“I did not sit on his lap. A woman there said ‘Be careful, that’s my husband.’ I said ‘What does that have to do with the picture?’” Lamy said. “That’s all I said, and I left.”…

“Why would I do this? There were so many people there. If he (Santa) needed a few extra bucks I would have given it to him,” Lamy said. “I’ve never been involved in a crime or anything. This is shocking to me.”

Selected amusing comments from readers of the Danbury News-Times, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Accused Groper to Santa Claus: You Wish”

coolie cart puller Above the Law blog.jpgEvery now and then, we like to highlight super-crappy especially unappealing job opportunities. See, e.g., this one (perfect for those of you who think sleep is overrated).
A reader at the University of Texas Law School recently sent a great job posting our way. A teaser:

Where to begin? First, what the heck is “Associate Attorney II”? Second, workday commences at 8 AM, and work week is 50-60 hours, Monday through Friday (not including possible weekend and holiday work). Third, anyone who cannot sit for two hours, or requires use of any ADA accommodations, need not apply. Fourth, everything is at the partners’ discretion. Oh, and just in case you thought otherwise, “[t]his description is for recruitment purposes, only, and does not constitute a contract.”

We noticed a few other less-than-appealing aspects of the job:

1. Pay is $4K a month. (This is a lawyer’s job, right? At a law firm?)

2. The job requires a current Texas driver’s license and “the ability to drive long distances unaccompanied during daylight and nighttime hours.”

3. One of the practice areas is “water / wastewater / solid waste” law.

4. The job requires the ability to “carry[] loads of up to 35 pounds (such as books, binders, and files).” (To repeat: this is a lawyer’s job, right?)

5. Yes, there are bonuses — for associates who “produc[e] stellar work product and exceed[] billable hour goals,” and “at the discretion of the partners.”

Well, at least they’re honest. No pretending to match the Cravath bonus scale, while in reality giving market-level bonuses to only a handful of associates.
Read the full job listing, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Definitely Not the Job of the Week”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgO’Melveny & Myers just announced associate bonuses for its offices in California and Washington, DC. One of the tipsters who sent us the memo is not pleased:

Attached is the memo that O’Melveny & Myers associates just received. The figures for the “class bonus” appear to be far below the standard bonus at other comparable firms such as Gibson Dunn.

Memo after the jump.
Update: Based on the reactions thus far, this announcement is not going over very well. But maybe OMM is okay with that. Opines one commenter: “Expect a big exodus. It’s probably what they are hoping for.”

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