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

Pakistan Flag.jpgSo how did yesterday’s rallying in support of Pakistani lawyers go? It depends on whom you ask.
It was a smashing success, according to Eric Turkewitz:

Hundreds of New York attorneys tuned out at 1:00 today to rally in support of Pakistani lawyers that were arrested for demonstrating against the firing of the Pakistani Supreme Court….

By my eye, the crowd looked to be about 300-400 lawyers, well in excess of what I had anticipated. Attorneys filled the steps of the courthouse and spilled out onto the sidewalk below.

It was a big disappointment, according to David Giacalone:

… [F]ewer than 800 hundred lawyers took part yesterday in the two Pakistan solidarity rallies. Sadly, I do not believe it was because no one knew (did Musharaff jam everyone’s Blackberries and cellphones?) or because the protests were “splintered.” Everyone just had higher priorities at lunchtime on a lovely autumn day in Manhattan. Seems to me, curiosity alone should have ensured more than a triple-digit body count.

Will D.C-area lawyers, and those congregating from around the country to the Nation’s Capital, make a better show of solidarity today around the U.S. Supreme Court at Noon today?

Good question. If you attended the D.C. march, feel free to share your observations in the comments.
New York Lawyers Rally By Hundreds In Support of Pakistani Lawyers [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
not impressed yet by U.S. lawyers re Pakistan [f/k/a]
Attack of the Lawyers! (subscription) [TNR (Ben Wittes)]
Earlier: Something To Do on Your Lunch Break Today

Judge Mary Barzee Flores Above the Law blog.jpgWe reiterate what we observed yesterday: “When it comes to generating ATL material, the University of Miami School of Law tops the rankings.”
It appears that the undergraduate school at UM also sees its fair share of shenanigans. Check out this motion to recuse (PDF), which has been making the rounds by email. It involves one UM alumnus seeking the recusal of a former college classmate, now on the state bench.
Pro se plaintiff Robert Seitz asks Judge Mary Barzee Flores (at right), of Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit, to recuse herself from hearing his case. The grounds for recusal are, er, interesting. Here’s what he alleges (alleges — we’ve undertaken no independent investigation of his claims):
Motion to Recuse Judge Mary Barzee Flores recusal Above the Law blog.jpg
You can read the entire motion by clicking here (PDF).
Update: For Judge Barzee Flores’s response to these allegations, in her ruling on the motion to recuse, click here.
Seitz v. Bareille: Motion to Recuse [PDF]

From an ATL reader going through the law firm recruiting process right now:

I’ve enjoyed reading about various law firm recruiting snafus on Above the Law over the last few months. I just never thought I would be lucky enough to encounter one of my own.

I recently came home to an unusually thick envelope from Arnold & Porter (DC). Inside there was a typical ethnicity request form (to be mailed back to them for recordkeeping), a return envelope, and finally, much to my surprise — a refrigerator warranty!

Yep, that’s right. While other firms are busy sending recruits bonsai trees, iPods, and designer cookies, Arnold & Porter sends its rejects their appliance warranties.

Our tipster sent along a scanned copy of the warranty registration form:
Arnold Porter refrigerator warranty Above the Law blog.jpg
Earlier: Public Humiliation, Courtesy of Your Friends at Wilson Sonsini
Fall Recruiting Snafu Watch: You Know They Really Don’t Want You When…
Not Everyone’s A Winner at Nixon Peabody

Mannequin Movie Above the Law blog.jpgStatutory interpretation is fun! Check out this wacky fact pattern, perfect fodder for a criminal law final exam, from Court TV News (via Blogonaut):

In a 5-0 ruling, the [South Dakota Supreme Court] overturned the conviction of Michael James Plenty Horse for indecent exposure because he didn’t attempt to arouse others when he tried to have sex with the mannequin in a dark, closed room at a YMCA in Sioux Falls, S.D.

On Nov. 14, 2005, Plenty Horse, then 19, went to the YMCA’s Alumni Room, which housed memorabilia and photos of local high school students, including a mannequin wearing a band uniform, on the second floor of the building.

Once inside the empty room, he closed the door, turned off the lights, took the mannequin over to a desk and began trying to have sex with it, according to court documents.

A security guard opened the closed door, turned on the lights and saw Plenty Horse on top of the partially undressed mannequin, his pants down and a wadded piece of paper in his hand, court documents said.

Plenty Horse immediately rolled off the mannequin and began adjusting his pants when he saw the security guard, according to the ruling. When questioned by police, he said he had not seen his girlfriend in a year.

Grounds for a temporary insanity defense? Wisely, his lawyers took a different approach:

Plenty Horse’s attorney argued throughout the legal fight that, while what the young man did with the mannequin would likely offend people, he did not “flash” his genitals “in hopes of being observed, thereby gratifying himself sexually.”

The defense succeeded in getting him off:

“Nothing establishes that his conduct was done with the specific intent to generate sexual arousal or gratification by the act of publicly exposing, displaying or offer to the public view, his genitals,” the ruling said. “Therefore, the defendant’s act, lewd though it may have been, does not fall within the purview of the indecent exposure statute.”

Good stuff. You can read the full opinion here (PDF, via How Appealing).
Sex with a mannequin? S.D. Supreme Court says keep it behind closed doors [Court TV via Blogonaut]
State v. Plenty Horse [Supreme Court of South Dakota (PDF) via How Appealing]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgIt’s good to be an associate at Covington & Burling these days.
There’s the cleaned-up Wikipedia entry. There are, for New York associates, spiffy new offices in the Renzo Piano-designed New York Times building. One Covington associate describes the new digs as “spectacular,” with views of the Statue of Liberty, George Washington Bridge, and Empire State Building. “They are a bit cold and impersonal, but we are a law firm, after all.”
Also for New York associates: special bonuses. Check out the Covington (New York) bonus memo, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Covington & Burling (New York)”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgSorry, we were out drinking (more than we should). That’s why we didn’t immediately post the bonus memo for Sidley Austin (New York).
Now we’re back — and tipsy. Fortunately, posting a bonus memo is not like operating heavy machinery.
The email announcing New York bonuses was forwarded to Sidley associates outside of New York, with this intro:

For your information, please find the message below to New York associates announcing a special bonus being provided in New York. As noted, the special New York bonuses are in addition to year-end bonuses, which will be the subject of a Firm-wide announcement in the coming days and which we expect will generally follow the pattern of prior years. We appreciate and value the work of all our associates.

But the work of non-NYC associates, not so much. Not surprisingly, Sidley associates outside of New York are not happy campers:

“Chicago morale should be wonderful after this…”

“Management committee forwarded the email to all other offices — how considerate.”

“Note that the Management Committee sent the bonus memo to the NY office only, and it took them an hour before they realized they’d better circulate it to all associates (so we don’t learn about it from you first). There’s going to be significant grumbling in DC, Chicago and LA about the yawning chasm between the bonuses we’ll likely get compared to the apparent total bonuses in NY.”

For the curious among you, the full Sidley Austin memo appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Sidley Austin (New York only)”

How I Met Your Mother Above the Law Blog.jpgAs we mentioned earlier, we don’t watch How I Met Your Mother. But maybe we should start, since lately it has been very topical for lawyers and law students.
From a devoted reader of ATL and watcher of HIMYM:

No snarky write-up of last night’s episode? Marshall anxiously awaiting his bar results figures prominently. He loses his password, so he can’t log into the NY bar site. Meanwhile, Doogie Howser (as he will forever be named in my mind) concocts an elaborate scheme to hack into the site to get his results — and shows Marshall a dog pooping on a baby, instead.

As an aside, Marshall graduated from Columbia Law School, my alma mater, so I’m feeling particularly sentimental about the show.

Clips and more info available here.
Recap: Episode 308 [How I Met Your Mother / CBS]
Earlier: How I Met Your… Partner?

south carolina map bar exam controversy.jpgRemember the alleged South Carolina bar exam shenanigans, which we discussed in these pages last week? There are some updates. See the links collected below, including a fairly barebones statement from the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Also, here’s what appears to be an interesting email that made the rounds in the wake of the results announcement. It was purportedly sent by one of the test takers who initially failed to other individuals who sat for the S.C. bar exam:

Hey Y’all,

First of all I’m so sorry about the bar exam. This sucks. I need to know if any of you failed the Wills part of the exam and your score.

My Dad and [redacted's] dad have been on the phone with the powers that be, and if we can get a big enough group together that failed the Wills section they are going to take it to the Sup. Ct and see if they’ll regrade our exams. Apparently, the examiner for the Wills section has been asked not to come back. We have a slim chance, but I think that it is worth it.

So far I have a list of 10 people that have failed the exam. They are [names redacted]. If you all know of anyone else that failed the Wills section PLEASE let me know so that we add them to the list. The scores are important too because we need to show the court how outrageous they are. Again, I’m so sorry we all failed. I really can’t believe it.

Law Clerk

Please do not identify any individuals by name in the comments. Thank you.
South Carolina Bar Examination Weirdness [Feminist Law Professors]
S.C. High Court Responds to Bar Exam Flap [FITSNews]
Supreme Court Issues Statement Regarding July 2007 Bar Examination [South Carolina Judicial Department]
Bar exam appeal route urged [The State]
20 years ago, state official’s daughter got score changed [The State]
Earlier: What’s Up With the South Carolina Bar Exam?

What’s our favorite law school? Not Harvard, not Yale — at least not for blogging purposes. When it comes to generating ATL material, the University of Miami School of Law tops the rankings.
We previously addressed the U. Miami Law community as follows:

Thanks to your many mentions in these pages — in addition to this YouTube gem [a musical modeling montage by a current student], you’ve also given us an allegedly prostitute-soliciting professor; a train wreck of a People’s Court appearance, featuring a saucy current student and an even more saucy former professor; and UM alumna Oona O’Connell, now prominently featured on a site called Girls and Guns (look under the “Girls” tab) — you’ve been granted your very own ATL category tag. Congratulations!

Jessica Bikini Pool University of Miami Law School Above the Law blog.jpgAnd now we have another post to file under that tag…
It seems that Oona O’Connell : University of Miami :: Felix Frankfurter : Harvard Law School. Perhaps due to its tropical location, UM is apparently populated by more aspiring models than future lawyers.
First we brought you this would-be model, a current UM law student. And now we introduce you to “Jessica” (at right), a red-headed stunner who is currently a 1L at Miami. Check out the video clip below, “Bikini Pool,” in which Jessica and several other bikini-clad women shoot pool — to wit, “a hot, sexy game of Cutthroat.”
Correction: Jessica is not an “aspiring” model, she IS a model. She was on national contracts for both modeling and acting for two years before deciding to attend law school. Very impressive! How many law school students can make such a claim?
[Warnings: (1) As you might expect from a video clip entitled "Bikini Pool," it features women in bikinis. Don't play it if you're in a location where such a sight might be deemed inappropriate. (2) This video features loud music. Turn off your speakers if necessary.]

Bikini Pool [YouTube]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of the University of Miami School of Law (scroll down)

sandra day o'connor 2 justice o'connor.jpgBack in July 2005, shortly after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her resignation from the Supreme Court, Professor Orin Kerr wrote an L.A. Times op-ed about how the Court might be affected by her departure. Its provocative title: O’Connor’s Successor Will Likely Be a Swinger.
We were reminded of Professor Kerr’s op-ed when we read this piece, by SOC biographer Joan Biskupic, in USA Today:

Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s husband, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, has found a new romance, and his happiness is a relief to his wife, an Arizona TV report reveals.

The report, which quoted the couple’s oldest son, Scott O’Connor, focused on Alzheimer’s patients who forget their spouses and fall in love with someone else. Experts say the scenario is somewhat common.

[T]he report spotlighted John O’Connor, 77. He and the woman, referred to only as “Kay,” live at a Phoenix facility for people with Alzheimer’s.

A lesser woman might be troubled by the December-December romance. But Justice O’Connor, who understands the nature of her husband’s devastating illness, is fine with it — in fact, more than fine:

“Mom was thrilled that Dad was relaxed and happy and comfortable living here and wasn’t complaining,” Scott, 50, told KPNX-Channel 12 in Phoenix in a story that aired Thursday. The station is owned by Gannett, as is USA TODAY….

Scott compared his father to “a teenager in love” and said, “For Mom to visit when he’s happy … visiting with his girlfriend, sitting on the porch swing holding hands,” was a relief after a painful period.

In any event, Justice O’Connor is too busy with her own work to be consumed by petty jealousies. Her busy schedule of meetings and speaking engagements has kept her on the road, both nationally and internationally. Recently she was in Paris — c’est magnifique!
Earlier today, SOC spoke at Columbia Law School. A report on her visit appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice O’Connor’s Bizarre Love Triangle Ailing Husband
(And an ATL Special Report on Her Columbia Law School Visit)”

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