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

shark lawyer attorney swimming with sharks Above the Law blog.jpgRemember this attorney, who announced the dissolution of his law partnership in most unorthodox fashion? We sure do (and so does “Tim from Anaconda”).
Our friends out west are idiosyncratic when it comes to office decor, too. From a piece by Debra Cassens Weiss for the ABA Journal:

A Montana lawyer said his decision to put a shark tank in his office started out as a joke.

“I said, ‘What would it take to put a shark in a lawyer’s office?’ and it just kind of took off from there,” lawyer Christopher Gillette told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Workers hoisted the 1,000-gallon aquarium through the second-story window of Gillette’s new office in downtown Bozeman on Monday. He plans to fill the tank with a blacktip reef shark and other saltwater fish, including a venomous lionfish.

Forget mediation. Nothing brings about settlement as quickly as the prospect of being devoured by a blacktip reef shark. With a venomous lionfish on hand to clean up any leftovers.

Gillette, who practices family law, says he thinks clients will find the tank to be relaxing. “People seem to be comfortable with fish,” he told the newspaper.

Others will get a chance to watch the marine life, too. Gillette plans to install a camera and broadcast video of his fish tank beginning in February at www.cjgillettelaw.com and www.ccaqua.com.

No word yet on whether Bob Link of Cadwalader — official holder of the “shark tank” nickname, courtesy of the New York Law Journal — plans to install an aquarium at One World Financial Center.
ABA Journal [ABA Journal]
Earlier: An Update on the Managhan Law Firm (aka ‘My Wife Is Sleeping Around and That’s Why We’re No Longer Law Partners’)

Fireplace Room Sheraton New York Hotel Towers Above the Law blog.jpgIf you’re in Iowa, we’re guessing you have plans tonight. But if you’re in New York City, and looking for something to do from 8:30 p.m. onward, consider attending the Law Blogger Happy Hour:

Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008, 8:30-10:30PM

Fireplace Room within Library Bar at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers

811 7th Avenue (at 53rd Street)

It’s bitterly cold in the Big Apple right now: 19 degrees (and it feels like 10). So come in from the cold, plant yourself in front of that roaring fire — they don’t call it the “Fireplace Room” for nothing — and cozy up to some of your favorite law professor/bloggers.
The holiday season isn’t that far behind us, so who knows… Maybe there will be egg nog!
Concurring Opinions–PrawfsBlawg Happy Hour at AALS [Concurring Opinions]
Happy New Year! [PrawfsBlawg]

Just half an hour ago, in our exegesis of her Facebook profile, we observed — and yes, we’ll ‘fess up, our feelings were a trifle hurt — that Kumari Fulbright hadn’t returned our Facebook poke.
Our apologies to the fabulous Ms. Fulbright. It seems that we poke — er, spoke — too soon:
Kumari Fulbright Facebook poke Arizona law student beauty queen Above the Law blog.jpg
Oh noes! Where do we go from here? Send her a spare roll of duct tape as a “gift”? Bite her and turn her into a “zombie” — because she’s not fearsome enough already?
Facebook can be so confusing!
Earlier: Brief Reflections on the Facebook Profile of Kumari Fulbright

As we mentioned in our earlier post about Kumari Fulbright, the former beauty queen and current law student indicted on charges of kidnapping her ex-boyfriend, we poked her today on Facebook. She has not yet returned our poke. But, surprisingly enough, she did add us as a friend.
(We also asked her, via Facebook message, if she had any comment on her case. But we haven’t heard back from her, even though she has been online for most of the day.)
Update: Exciting news! Kumari Fulbright has poked us back. See here.
Now, although we’ve been added as a friend, we’re not in very exclusive company. Since her story broke, Ms. Fulbright has been rapidly acquiring friends — over 50 in the last 24 hours. Can you imagine if (1) social networking sites existed at the time of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and (2) that curvaceous beauty was on MySpace or Facebook? She would have picked up “friends” faster than her blue Gap dress picked up presidential DNA.
Anyway, as a Facebook friend of Kamari Fulbright, we have access to her profile. We offer some observations and advice, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Brief Reflections on the Facebook Profile of Kumari Fulbright”

Stephen Yagman Steve Yagman Stephen G Yagman Above the Law blog.jpgSo it looks like no bail for Stephen Yagman, the colorful and controversial civil rights lawyer who was convicted last year of tax evasion, bankruptcy fraud and money laundering. Yagman will start his three-year prison term later this month.
Yagman asked to remain free on bail while appealing his conviction (to the Ninth Circuit — a court with which Yagman has a long and tortured history). But the district court denied his request.
Perhaps the court didn’t want Yagman out and about, dropping $2,000 on shoes and $262 on dinner — as he allegedly did just hours after filing for bankruptcy, as part of a scheme to avoid paying more than $200,000 in state and federal taxes.
High-profile LA lawyer denied bail [Associated Press]

We’ve received over 1,300 responses thus far to our ATL / Lateral Link survey on bonuses (accessible here). Before the holiday break, we shared with you the results for New York, Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Today’s new results are from San Francisco & Silicon Valley. Surprisingly, base salaries from those of you who responded from the Bay Area are actually slightly higher, on average, than those reported by associates in New York, particularly for more senior associates.When it comes to bonus, however, the Big Apple is still king.
The breakdowns of bonus and base compensation, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey Results: Bonuses (San Francisco / Silicon Valley)”

Sure, it might feel really good to (1) bite your ex-boyfriend on the arm, hand and ear; (2) hold a butcher knife to his head; and (3) threaten to kill him. Just imagine how satisfying that bunny-boiling must have been for Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) in Fatal Attraction.
But if there’s any truth to the allegations against Arizona law student, former judicial extern, and ex-beauty queen Kumari Fulbright, and if her experience is at all representative, it won’t do wonders for your looks:
Kumari Fulbright Arizona law student beauty queen Above the Law blog.jpg
More about the alleged misadventures of the Fulbright scholar — who was indicted last month on charges of kidnapping, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, among other things — below the fold (i.e., click on the “Continue reading” link below).

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Beauty Tip: Don’t Kidnap and Torture Your Ex-Boyfriend (Especially If You Are a Former Beauty Queen)”

Britney Spears VMA girlfriend still looks good all you haters.jpgAnd now, no lawyers? From the AP:

Britney Spears’ lawyers in her custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline are quitting. The law firm Trope and Trope asked a court Wednesday to be relieved as Spears’ attorneys. The firm says there’s been a “breakdown” in communication with the pop princess that makes representing her “impossible,” according to the filing, obtained by CelebTV.com.

Structured finance lawyers, it’s time to put down those securitization agreements and pick up Us Weekly. Representing the embattled pop star is a growing practice area:

On a separate legal front, an attorney for Spears wants the city attorney’s office to prove that the pop star is a permanent California resident and is subject to state laws that require her to have a valid California driver’s license.

Spears faces up to a year of probation if convicted in a misdemeanor case of driving without a valid license, a charge to which she has pleaded not guilty. The case stems from a videotaped fender-bender in a parking lot in August. A hit-and-run charge has been dismissed.

Spears attorney J. Michael Flanagan earlier Wednesday requested that prosecutors be required to demonstrate that Spears, who owns homes in Louisiana and Florida, intends to make Los Angeles her permanent legal home.

Of course she does — Britney Spears is the quintessential Californian.
Now if only the judicial system would just leave… Britney… alone!!!

Spears’ Lawyers Ask to Quit Custody Case [Associated Press]

Shawn Hynes Shawn T Hynes Cleary Gottlieb Above the Law blog.jpgAs the old adage goes, “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” And there is some anecdotal evidence in support of that proposition. See, e.g., Elana Glatt / Elana Elbogen (depending upon how you view the merits of her case against her wedding florist).
Here’s another example of what can happen when Biglaw litigators represent themselves. From TaxProf Blog:

The Tax Court today decided Hynes v. Commissioner, T.C. Summ. Op. 2008-1 (1/2/08), a case involving Shawn T. Hynes, a fifth year securities litigation associate in Cleary Gottlieb’s New York City office. The taxable year at issue was 2003, when Hynes was a Penn 3L (he tranferred to Penn after completing his first year at Oregon).

More about the facts of Shawn Hynes’s case, and how he got benchslapped by the Tax Court, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cleary Gottlieb Associate Gets Benchslapped By Tax Court”

John Hagler Judge John B Hagler Above the Law blog.jpgLast month, Judge John B. Hagler, a state court judge in Tennessee, stepped down from the bench. Here’s why, from the AP:

A Tennessee judge resigned last month after making a recording of fantasies so lurid that when the tape fell into the hands of the police and FBI, they thought they were listening to a torture session and believed it might be linked to a murder case.

Police have cleared the judge in the murder case. But a hearing started yesterday over whether they must release the tape.
So, pray tell, what exactly is this tape about?

“It sounded like someone being tortured,” Chattanooga police Sgt. Alan Franks testified Wednesday, offering the first details of what is on the tape.

Franks said the recording was investigated in relation to a still-unsolved 1997 murder. He gave no other details on the murder case.

“The content was so shocking. I have been a police officer for 24 years,” Franks said before his testimony was cut off by an objection.

Well! What does Judge Hagler have to say for himself?

Hagler said that he had done nothing wrong but that the recording had caused great embarrassment to friends, family and the courts. Hagler, who is 65 and married, has been a circuit judge in Cleveland, Tenn., since 1990 and served three terms as president of the Tennessee Trial Judges Association.

“The description of it as containing ‘graphic fantasies’ … is an accurate and sufficient description and all any decent person would want to hear of it,” the judge said in a statement.

Should we be troubled by the trend of excessively scrutinizing the unorthodox sexual practices of judges? See also Judge Herman Thomas, aka the Spanking Judge, who resigned a few months ago.
Aren’t judges entitled to be a little kinky too? If judges have to worry about their personal lives being placed under the microscope, will the state and federal benches lose out on potentially talented jurists, who just happen to have a little sumthin sumthin going on under those robes?
Update: More coverage, from the ABA Journal.
Tenn. judge resigns over fantasies tape [Associated Press]
Ex-Judge Fights Release of Lurid Audiotape [ABA Journal]

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