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

* Banishment? We didn’t know they still did that. But here’s a funny little twist: Can you banish someone from an entire state except for one county? [Fulton County Daily Report]
* Haven’t gotten a response to your FOIA request? Don’t take it personally. Even the kids of a deceased federal judge can’t get their request fully satisfied. [Daily Business Review]
* Blogger / criminal defense lawyer David O. Markus: “Allowing jurors to ask questions is like letting New Englanders call the plays for the Patriots. It sounds like fun, but it’s going to be a disaster.” [National Law Journal (subscription)]
* With whom would you rather dine: a Harvard Law grad or a Yale Law grad? [Huffington Post]
* Speaking of politics, our big sibling also dabbles in election-year commentary. [DealBreaker]

Kumari Fulbright Facebook Arizona law student beauty queen Above the Law blog.jpgTime for an update on everyone’s favorite law student cum beauty queen cum accused kidnapper, Kumari Fulbright. If you’re not familiar with her story, click here, and read through the ATL archives.
First, from an observant reader, some sad news for those of us who were her Facebook friends:

It looks like Kumari finally realized we weren’t all her friends. Her Facebook page is gone.

Darn it, now we’re down a friend. And just as we’re closing in on the 1,000 friend mark!
Second, poor Kumari Fulbright has been temporarily suspended from the University of Arizona law school. Getting indicted on kidnapping and assault charges will tend to do that to you. One UA alum, who brought the news to our attention, observed:

Well, it took the alma mater long enough to react. I’ve been forwarded this godd**ned story from everyone I know across the country, all with some variation of either (a) UA law students are stupid / crazy or (b) girls in Tucson are ugly / felonious. Stay classy, Arizona.

We object — strenuously. The “felonious” part is not established; she’s been indicted, not convicted. And the “ugly” part is belied by the record evidence. Even though her Facebook profile is gone, we’ll always have that screenshot (above right), which amply demonstrates Kumari’s overwhelming hotness. The way you become a beauty queen is by being beautiful. Who’d have thunk it?
Our Arizona tipster adds:

[T]his story’s insane… It’s been killing me at happy hours or other lawyer gatherings here in Phoenix… Everyone has been taking their swipes at the U. of A law school for the past two weeks!

The school hasn’t made many statements, and I really doubt they will. They’re all touchy-feely down there. I’m surprised they didn’t try to cure her with hugs.

More about the suspension, plus links to news articles, below the fold.

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Hogan Hartson LLP Above the Law blog.JPGBeefing up parental leave policies: everybody’s doing it. It may not be another pay raise, but it’s very welcome news for lawyers at large firms who are trying to balance Biglaw with Big Family (or contemplating such a move).
We’ve written in the past about new leave policies from Simpson Thacher, Latham & Watkins, Davis Polk, Sullivan & Cromwell, and Weil Gotshal. Today Hogan & Hartson joins the 18 Weeks Club.
Memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Perk Watch: Hogan & Hartson Announces Enhanced Leave for Childbirth and Adoption”


Last month we asked you which holidays you worked on, or expected to work on, during 2007. About 10% of you reported that you expected to work on Christmas, and roughly 22% expected to work on New Year’s.
In today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, let’s find out if you were overly optimistic, pleasantly surprised, or just plain right.
Did the Grinch steal your vacation? Tell us about it in the comments.
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.

cockroach Biglaw law firm cafeteria Above the Law blog.jpgWe have a lunch meeting today, so we’re going to be offline for a while. We’ll leave you with a food-related post to chew over while we’re gone. Hopefully it won’t cause you to lose your appetite.
Over at Keeping Up With Jonas, Jonas Karp has filed a great investigative report: a look at how various law firm cafeterias fared in unannounced annual inspections by the New York City Department of Health. If you’re hoping for a healthy dose of schadenfreude, you might be disappointed. As Karp writes, “All of the firms surveyed passed their inspections, and none had Serendipity 3-like 100 live cockroach violations.”
Darn. But as Jonas notes, “some firms did a lot better than others.”
Which ones? Read the full post to find out. As you review the results, consider this question: Is cafeteria cleanliness inversely proportional to law firm prestige? Simpson Thacher and Cravath came within a few points of failing inspection, while a perfect score was earned by… Greenberg Traurig!
Maybe GT associates won’t be getting a pay raise anytime soon. But at least their New York office has an immaculate cafeteria.
Feel free to opine on the quality of your law firm’s cafeteria, or any other Biglaw canteen that you have personally sampled, in the comments.
Law Firm Cafeterias: Inspection Results [Keeping Up With Jonas]

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]

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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.

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