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

Adam Key 2 Adam M Key Regent Law School Above the Law blog.jpgOne of our favorite law students in America, Adam Key, is in the news once again. As you may recall, Key is a 2L at Regent Law School, the private, Christian law school in Virginia, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson.
Key is currently at war with the Regent administration over free speech issues. The university suspended him. In November 2007, he filed a lawsuit in federal court against the university, claiming violation of his free speech rights.
Now Key has filed a complaint with the American Bar Association, seeking to revoke Regent Law’s accreditation by the ABA. For coverage, check out the Houston Chronicle and the Texas Lawyer.
We recently corresponded with Adam Key over instant messenger about the ABA complaint he just filed (among other topics). If you might be interested, you can read excerpts from our IM conversation below the fold.
P.S. With respect to the title of this post, our favorite Regent Law School student or graduate is Monica Goodling, of course. If you’re on Facebook, join her fan club.
ABA Asked to Examine Accreditation of Pat Robertson’s Law School [Texas Lawyer]
Spring man asks ABA to help him [Houston Chronicle]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Update on Our Second Favorite Regent Law Student / Grad”

Or a richness of embarrassment. Today we’re going to name not one, but seven Lawyers of the Day.
Our first Lawyer of the Day is Mark Mersel (formerly of Morrison & Foerster, now at Bryan Cave). In case you missed the shout-out in Morning Docket, here’s a bit more, from the WSJ Law Blog:

It’s a litigator’s worst dream — costing your client serious money by missing a filing deadline.

That nightmare was a reality for MoFo, which appears to have cost its client Toshiba America $1 million when it was one-minute late — 1 minute! — in filing a motion for attorneys fees.

For the exciting details — which involve a courier zooming through traffic on a motorcycle, and an unfortunately timed train — read the full post.
The other six Lawyers of the Day are no strangers to these pages. Let’s call them the Qualcomm Six. From the Recorder:

Qualcomm Qualcom Above the Law blog.jpgSix attorneys in the Qualcomm Inc. discovery fiasco were sanctioned Monday for “monumental” discovery violations and referred to the State Bar of California for possible discipline.

Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder attorneys James Batchelder, Adam Bier, Kevin Leung, Christian Mammen and Lee Patch, and Heller Ehrman’s Stanley Young were sanctioned and harshly criticized by U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Major in a 42-page order. The ruling follows a patent infringement trial Qualcomm had brought against Broadcom Corp.

The attorneys “assisted Qualcomm in committing this incredible discovery violation by intentionally hiding or recklessly ignoring relevant documents, ignoring or rejecting numerous warning signs that Qualcomm’s document search was inadequate, and blindly accepting Qualcomm’s unsupported assurances that its document search was adequate,” Major wrote.

Document production sucks — or, to put it more nicely, it’s a thankless task. It’s time-intensive, mind-numbingly boring, and a general pain in the a**. If you do it right, you’re just doing your job; but if you screw it up, consider yourself screwed. Monumentally.
Six Lawyers in Qualcomm Case Sanctioned for ‘Monumental’ Discovery Violations [The Recorder via Law.com]
Judge rebukes Qualcomm, its attorneys [San Diego Union-Tribune via Blogonaut]
A Litigator’s Nightmare: Late Filing Costs Client $1 Million [WSJ Law Blog]

* Ouch. Morrision & Foerster is one minute late, costs client one million dollars. [WSJ Law Blog]
* The Sneaky Chef sues Mrs. Jessica Seinfeld, author of “Deceptively Delicious,” claiming not-so-delicious plagiarism — and defamation, to boot. [New York Times; AP]
* Opponents of execution by lethal injection have a bad day at the Supreme Court. [Legal Times; New York Times]
* Speaking of the SCOTUS, yesterday it delivered good news to some Dykes on Bikes, denying cert to a “men’s rights advocate” who challenged their trademark registration. [San Francisco Chronicle via How Appealing]

Mark Lanier W Mark Lanier Vioxx Merck Above the Law blog.jpg* Wow, this is wild. Mark Lanier (at right), the prominent plaintiffs’ lawyer leading the Vioxx charge against Merck, gets down and dirty in blog comments (at Overlawyered and elsewhere). [Overlawyered; WSJ Law Blog]
* Lawyer of the Day? Chicago attorney charged with keying a Marine’s car says he merely “rub[bed] past it.” [Snopes.com]
* Upset about your bonus? You’re not alone. Goldman Sachs bankers employees are, too. [DealBreaker]
* For current and aspiring legal academics, here’s a quick wrap-up of last week’s AALS conference in New York. [PrawfsBlawg]
* Michael Saltzman, tax partner at White & Case and author of a well-known treatise, R.I.P. [TaxProf Blog]

summer associate Above the Law blog.jpgThe recruiting season for 2Ls — scooped up by law firms eager to hire them as summer associates, fatten them up at fancy lunches, and get them addicted to a luxury lifestyle — is pretty much over. So now is a good time to take stock of who fared well (and who didn’t).
From a tipster at Sidley Austin (New York):

On its internal site for new summers, the firm releases the list of incoming 2008 summer associate class. It is 38 people long, and one has to assume hiring has likely ended. The list from last year was accessible until recently, and that list was 62 people long. Additionally, NALP data shows the firm’s NYC office had 58 and 54 summers in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

The significant drop in number of incoming summer associates this summer may be a proxy for the economic health of the firm. In a way, it is positive, because it indicates a proactive measure on the part of firm. That is, they aren’t going to risk bringing aboard more summers than they can hire; chances of not getting an offer due to a downturn in business are much lower.

That’s an optimistic take. Most people would read a drop in summer associate class size as a sign of declining recruiting appeal or “mojo” among law students. Saint-cum-superman Barack Obama met his wife while summering at Sidley. Was that fact not enough to sway recruits?
Update: We have contacted the firm for comment and are waiting to hear back from them.
Here are some other things we’ve been hearing (mere rumors, so take with a grain of salt):

1. Wiley Rein: vastly oversubscribed, perhaps due to their topping the Am Law 100 in profits per partner, thanks to the RIM / Blackberry settlement.

2. Wachtell Lipton: our former firm, which we shamelessly plug in these pages, is also hosting a much larger summer class than usual. Office space could become an issue.

3. Kirkland & Ellis: a somewhat lower yield than usual. Some people blame us, but we’ve offered both sides of the story. We also give K&E lots of props around here for their generous bonuses (and awesome summer associates).

So, if you know: How did your firm do in the summer associate sweepstakes? Please discuss, in the comments (or send us email if you prefer). Thanks.
Further Update: Some tips we received via email, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Summer Associate Recruiting Sweepstakes: Open Thread on Winners and Losers”

Barack Obama Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re tired of the national lovefest for Barack Obama that is currently underway. It seems that Senator Obama, barely halfway through his first term in the U.S. Senate, can do no wrong — and the divalicious Hillary Clinton, the fabulous former first lady who also has a complete (and highly successful) Senate term under the belt of her pantsuit, can do no right.
Everybody loves Barack. The 2008 election has turned into a run for class president, Barack is the “Cool Kid,” and Hillary is the nerd — the Tracy Flick character from Election.
Lawyers seems to love Obama, especially young, starry-eyed law firm associates. But general counsels have a weakness for him too, as reported today in Corporate Counsel:

The nation’s best-paid general counsel have a clear favorite in the presidential race: Barack Obama. In the run-up to the primary season, the Illinois senator received more money from the in-house legal elite than any other candidate….

A total of 29 GCs in the top 100 have contributed to a presidential candidate so far (five gave to more than one campaign). Eight legal chiefs gave Obama a total of $20,600; Hillary Clinton raised $14,500 from six; and Christopher Dodd netted $13,000 from eight.

And publishers like to throw money at Obama too. From a post over the weekend at Boston Now:

[P]residential candidate Barack “No Experience” Obama apparently has no program for reducing foreign corporate control of the U.S. book publishing industry and other U.S. media industries.

One reason Obama might not want to propose that U.S. anti-trust laws be enforced against German media conglomerates like Bertelsmann AG is that between Election Day 2004 and his swearing in as a Senator, Obama was given a $1.7 million two-book contract by the Random House/Crown Publishers/Alfred Knopf subsidiary division of Bertelsmann AG. By signing his lucrative book contract with the German media conglomerate’s U.S. subsidiary before taking office, Obama did not fall under various requirements for disclosure and reporting that applies to members of Congress who accept money from U.S. media conglomerates.

We could offer some snarky quip, but will refrain. Senator Obama complied with all applicable legal and ethical rules. His deal was brokered by Robert Barnett of Williams & Connolly, the D.C. superlawyer who brokered a similar book deal for Hillary Clinton, also hammered out right before she took office.
And Hillary is our girl. If loving her is wrong, we don’t want to be right.
Update: This video, in which HRC gets a bit choked up, is awesome. She’s the most effective politically when she’s the most personal. Remember how her political career was launched, after she was humanized as the wronged woman in L’Affaire Lewinsky?
Further Update: In the comments, some of you suggest that this post would be more appropriate for our personal blog. Thanks for the unsolicited advice, which we have taken.
We offer additional thoughts about Hillary, Obama, and the amazing video clip, in this post on our personal blog. The post’s title: “Could this be Hillary’s anti-Scream, her anti-Macaca moment? Could this video clip save her faltering campaign?”
The GCs’ Choice: Obama [Corporate Counsel]
Obama’s $1.7 Million Book Contract [Boston Now]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgBonus season is still with us, although it’s winding down. Announcements continue to trickle in, but at a reduced pace. Going forward, we will combine bonus info into omnibus posts that will go up periodically, depending on whether we have a critical mass of tips.
Here is today’s compilation of associate bonus news — plus a tantalizing email, from Allen & Overy, that raises the possibility of an associate pay raise.
1. Thacher Proffitt & Wood: TPW has been hit hard by the credit crisis. As we reported back in November, they may be laying off associates this month. But at least they’re still paying out bonuses to the folks who are still around:

TPW paid bonuses year end. No standard memo to all, so information is hard to come by. They paid market bonus ($35,000 for class of 2006) with an hours requirement.

There seem to be four tiers: 2100 hours = full bonus, 2000 hours = half bonus, 1900 hours = somewhere between a third and a fourth ($10,000 for class of 2006 associates), and below 1900 hours = no bonus.

2. McDermott Will & Emery. Here’s a follow-up to our prior post on MWE:

They are having a videoconference on the 15th with all associates to discuss compensation. In the meantime, they allegedly are continuing to monitor market data. It appears as if they will try and fix their initial misread of the market, but no one knows when, how or by how much. In some cities, peer firms’ bonuses [were] 3, 4 or 5 times MWE’s bonuses.

3. Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel: We previously wrote about the Kramer Levin bonus announcement. Now comes this caveat:

Sneaky to state that everyone gets the special bonus at 2000 hours, but it’s not market. For example, a fourth-year will either get 80k for 2150 or 38k for 2000-2149.

The Kramer Levin memo appears after the jump.
4. Allen & Overy: This is not bonus news, but over at Allen & Overy — or should that be Allen & Oy-vey-ry? — an email went out before the new year telling associates that the firm probably “will not be able to announce associate/senior counsel salaries for 2008 before the year begins.” One source wonders:

Have any other firms mentioned something like this? Do you think management knows something about a pending raise? Why wait, unless they have information about a possible raise?

Intriguing. We’ll keep you posted.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Monday Round-Up
(Plus a Hint of a Base Salary Increase?)”

blawg100_topwinner_gossip.jpgBelated congratulations to the winners of the inaugural Blawg 100 readers’ choice contest, sponsored by the ABA Journal, which were announced late last week. More than 25,000 votes were cast in 12 categories.
We previously wrote about the extremely close race between Overlawyered and Quizlaw, duking it out in the Generally Speaking category. Congrats to Quizlaw, which prevailed by 19 votes.
Also, thanks to everyone who voted for ATL for Best Gossip Blog category, which we won handily. We’re tremendously grateful for your support.
And not just in these blog contests, but on a more general level — through your readership, your comments (even the attacks on us — they’re all pageviews), and your tips and info. The legal blogosophere may be plateauing or reaching a saturation point, as suggested by Orin Kerr and Daniel Solove, among others. But ATL has been growing pretty consistently since its launch, with November 2007 as this site’s biggest month ever in terms of traffic. We thank Cravath for the early Christmas gift of a big traffic boost, in the form of its October bonus announcement, which triggered a bonus season that lasted for two months (and is still going on, to a certain extent).
So once again, congratulations to our fellow winners, and thanks to you, our readers, for your support. We’re looking forward to another great year in 2008.
Readers’ Choice Winners Named in ABA Journal Blawg 100 [ABA Journal]
One More Time with Feeling [QuizLaw]
Has the Legal Blogosphere Stabilized? [Concurring Opinions]
The Blawgosphere in 2007 [Volokh Conspiracy]
Earlier: ‘Tis the Season… for Blog Contests

Roger Clemens William Roger Clemens Above the Law blog.jpgThanks to the many readers who have alerted us to the lawsuit that Roger Clemens just filed against his ex-trainer. From the AP:

Roger Clemens beat Brian McNamee to court, filing a defamation suit against the former trainer who claimed to have injected him with performance-enhancing drugs.

Clemens filed the suit Sunday night in Harris County District Court in Texas, listing 15 alleged statements McNamee made to the baseball drug investigator George Mitchell. Clemens claimed the statements were “untrue and defamatory.”

“According to McNamee, he originally made his allegations to federal authorities after being threatened with criminal prosecution if he didn’t implicate Clemens,” according to the 14-page petition, obtained early Monday by The Associated Press.

You can review the petition here (PDF). One tipster writes:

Some miscellaneous notes: it will be interesting to see if Clemens is considered a “public figure.” Further, something I didn’t know about, even as a life-long New Yorker – Clemens was initially drafted by the New York Mets. Intriguing.

We’d think that Clemens would definitely qualify as a public figure. But given our line of work, we like to think of everyone as a public figure. In the internet age, we are all public figures now.
P.S. Thanks to the many readers who applied to serve as ATL’s sports columnist. We are reviewing the many submissions and will select a columnist by the end of this week.
Clemens files defamation lawsuit against ex-trainer McNamee [AP]
Clemens v. McNamee: Complaint (PDF) [ESPN]

* Tomorrow is showtime for the presidential candidates in New Hampshire. [Washington Post; AP]
* Speaking of the 2008 elections, it’s showtime for voter ID laws in the Supreme Court. And there appears to be an African-American female Republican living in Indiana. [New York Times]
* Also in the SCOTUS this week: lethal injection. [Chicago Tribune via How Appealing; Los Angeles Times]
* Roger Clemens and Vioxx: Taste the rainbow of fruit flavors? [WSJ Law Blog; New York Times]
* A look at the 2008 pay raise for federal workers, including all those government lawyers at the DOJ. It’s not to $160K, but it will have to do. [Washington Post]

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