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

paralegal Biglaw Big Law firm paralegals Above the Law blog.jpgHere is today’s law firm perk post. From a devoted ATL reader:

Here’s an idea for perkwatch: paralegals. As I’m sure most people can attest to, a good stable of paralegals can be invaluable in systematizing some of the more mundane routine tasks.

One of my old firms had a majority of snippy, incompetent paralegals in Corporate, which often led to first years needing to, for instance, directly call to order good standing certificates. A good paralegal is certainly a “perk” in my mind.

Indeed. Especially when you get to make out with them at the firm holiday party!
Please discuss your paralegal experiences, good and bad, in the comments. Thanks.
P.S. A shout-out to the paralegals at our former firm, who are widely regarded as some of the best paralegals anywhere. You get what you pay for, and Wachtell Lipton pays its paralegals very well.
(Also, they’re really good at Scrabulous.)

Playboy 2 Above the Law blog.jpgOkay, not in the centerfold — we wish. But as we recently mentioned, this fine website is featured in the December 2007 issue of Playboy magazine (p. 61). It’s far more thrilling than a shout-out in the New York Times or the Washington Post.
A reader kindly sent the mention our way; it appears to the right. In case you’re curious about what surrounded the item, check out more of the page, after the jump.
Speaking of playboys, check out this article — an oldie, but a goodie — about Germany’s answer to Hugh Hefner. From Spiegel Online:

Aging German playboy Rolf Eden has rarely taken no for an answer. And he’s not about to start. He has filed charges against a 19-year-old for refusing to sleep with him. The complaint? Ageism….

the 77-year-old Eden has filed suit against a 19-year-old Berlin woman for the following reason: Despite a night on the town with Eden, which ended back at his place, she refused to have sex with him, saying the he was too old for her.

“That was shattering. No woman has ever said that to me before,” Eden told the tabloid. “I was crushed.” He has filed charges with the prosecutors’ office, he said. “After all, there are laws against discrimination.”

Partners whose advances have been rejected by summer associates surely agree.
German Playboy, 77, Sues for Sex [Spiegel Online]
Earlier: Not Everyone’s A Winner at Nixon Peabody

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “My blood runs cold / My memory has just been sold
ATL in the centerfold! ATL in the centerfold!”

laptop pink girl woman Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgIf you visit the New York State Board of Law Examiners website, using Internet Explorer (it doesn’t seem to work with Firefox), you’ll see this message scrolling across the status bar at the bottom of your screen (be sure to have the status bar activated under “View”):

July 2007 examination results will be available here for candidate private lookup on Thursday, November 15th at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, the general passing list will be posted on Friday, November 16 at 9:00 a.m…..

Thanks to the many tipsters who wrote us about this. Especially this person:

On another note, what kind of crappy web designer does BOLE have?! Probably the same ones who programmed the SecurExam software that screwed up all the laptop exams this year…

Indeed. Compare this site with this one.
New York Board of Law Examiners [official website]
July 2007 New York Bar Exam Fiasco [unofficial website]
Earlier: What’s Going on with the New York Bar Exam Results?

Pakistan Flag.jpgSorry we didn’t get this to you earlier — it starts in less than two hours. But for those of you who are following recent events in Pakistan (as we have been), and who are based in New York, you might want to attend this event:

Lawyers to Rally in Solidarity with Pakistani Lawyers and Judges
Tuesday, November 13, 2007 1 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

What: Rally in support of lawyers and judges affected by emergency rule in Pakistan
Where: Steps of the New York County Courthouse; 60 Centre Street

Join the New York City Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers’ Association and other organizations in rallying support for the lawyers and judges affected by the emergency rule in Pakistan.

For more details, see here.
Update: For those of you here in Washington, DC, you can participate in this march, taking place tomorrow:

What: Lawyers’ march to support the rule of law in Pakistan
When: 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, November 14
Where: Meet at the James Madison Building (101 Independence Avenue SE) before walking around the Supreme Court
Attire: Black suit

For more details, see here.
Lawyers to Rally in Solidarity with Pakistani Lawyers and Judges [New York City Bar]
American Lawyers Will March to Supreme Court to Show Solidarity with Pakistani Lawyers [American Bar Association]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWhere have all the bonus announcements gone? Have firms stopped issuing them? Or have you stopped sending them to us? For information about the many ways you can submit bonus memos to us, see here.
In the meantime, we bring you another bonus non-announcement, similar to those previously issued by Kirkland & Ellis and McDermott Will & Emery. This one is from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
Check it out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Morgan Lewis’s Non-Announcement”

McKee Nelson LLP AboveTheLaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe previously commended the firm of McKee Nelson for the steps it’s taking to accommodate its associates in the wake of the credit crunch. Credit market woes have significantly affected the firm’s once booming capital markets practice, but the firm is bending over backwards not to do layoffs.
So far backwards, in fact, that we’re going to go even farther: we wish we worked at MN. To paraphrase Crazy Eddie, the offers they’re making to associates are INSANE.
On Friday, the firm offered these options to its associates:

(1) a full bonus, and four months’ pay, to anyone willing to depart from the firm; or

(2) the option to take a year-long sabbatical, at 40 percent pay, AND with a full bonus for 2007.

Wow. How is option (2) — or even option (1), for people who wanted to change jobs or career paths anyway — not the sweetest deal ever? You get a year off from the Biglaw grind, at 40 percent of your pay (McKee is on the $160K scale), AND with a year-end bonus? (Their bonus table appears here — the firm is paying standard year-end bonuses, although not “special” bonuses.)
There are some caveats, according to our tipsters. First, there’s no guarantee of a job at the end of the sabbatical — whether you can return to the firm will depend on what the business climate looks like in a year. Second, you’re supposed to do something public-interest-oriented during that year — or, as the managing partner put it, “something that makes the world better.” So you can’t just go to Ibiza and party for twelve months (although cynics claim that turning lawyers into layabouts “makes the world better”).
On the other hand, there’s no requirement that you work for a 501(c)(3) during your sabbatical; the concept has some flexibility. Could you perhaps use the year — and the money — to study painting, or to finish the novel you started writing back in law school?
So many lawyers talk about the dreams that died when they went to law school. How is the McKee Nelson sabbatical program not a great opportunity to resurrect those dreams, with the luxury of free time and financial security?
Earlier: Nationwide Personnel Reconfiguration Watch: McKee Nelson

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGHere’s an interesting (and potentially lucrative) Biglaw benefit, which was recently brought to our attention:

How about a Biglaw perk watch thread on associate client fees? For example, at Kramer Levin, if an associate brings a new client to the firm, he or she gets 7 percent of all fees collected from that client.

The rule applies even if the associate isn’t involved in the matter. So, for example, a litigator who brings in a corporate client would still get the percentage.

We have heard of such arrangements, although we think they tend to be more common among midsize and smaller firms, as opposed to the biggest of Biglaw shops. But even if you don’t share in the fees, it obviously helps your partnership chances if you have the power to bring in a major client (e.g., because your mom is the CEO or GC of a Fortune 500 company).
If you have thoughts or information to share, please do so in the comments. Thanks.

Some etiquette tips for law school deans:

peanut Mr Peanut warning contains peanuts you will die Above the Law blog.jpg1. If you send one of your students to another law school, for a year-long stint as a visiting student, don’t “apologize” for it — even if that student has a severe peanut allergy, requiring the receiving school to “peanut-proof” itself for the year.

2. If you really must issue an “apology,” do so by phone or in person, not by email.

3. If you really must issue an “apology” by email, send it to the individual dean. Do not send it to a listserv consisting of the deans of ABA-accredited law schools.

Because it might get leaked to ATL:
peanut allergy email snafu Above the Law blog.jpg
ATL readers: Please take this opportunity to engage in a spirited debate over whether schools, airlines, and other institutions go too far — or not far enough — in accommodating people with extreme food allergies. Thank you.Peanut Girl Dean Mark Sargent Villanova University School of Law.jpg

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgWho says the associate bonus news has dried up? Check out the latest announcement to make its way to our inbox:

LAW OFFICES OF DAVID C. MCGRAIL
676A Ninth Avenue #211, New York, NY 10036
Ph: (646) 290-6496 Fax: (646) 224-8377

MEMORANDUM TO ALL U.S. ATTORNEYS

November 8, 2007

We are delighted to announce that the Firm will pay special bonuses to all U.S. attorneys, in the amounts set forth below.

Class of 2000: $60,003

The special bonuses will supplement the Firm’s normal year-end U.S. bonuses. In lieu of special and year-end bonuses, U.S. attorneys may opt for a 100% equity stake in the Firm.

It is our pleasure to work with such an extraordinarily talented, quick-witted, well-read, handsome, modest group of lawyers. Thanks to your hard work, 2007 has been the Firm’s best year ever. While our securitization, antitrust, environmental, mass tort, tax, trust and estates, and patent litigation practices remain nonexistent, our bankruptcy/restructuring and general corporate practices have flourished. Profits are up infinity percent from 2006. We look forward to seeing you all and celebrating this year’s successes at the holiday party at “Go Sushi” on 51st and 9th.

The Firm urges you not to circulate this memo to muckraking legal tabloids such as Above the Law. We recognize that our special bonuses exceed those offered by Cravath and others, and we don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Law Offices of David McGrail [official website]

Samuel Kent Judge Samuel B Kent Above the Law blog.jpgJudge Samuel B. Kent (S.D. Texas) joins Judge Elizabeth Halverson and Chief Judge Edward Nottingham in our Judge of the Day Hall of Fame. He will no longer be eligible for recognition as a Judge of the Day, having transcended this award.
Why is Judge Kent deserving of induction? In the Houston Chronicle, Lise Olsen offers a detailed report of the allegations against Judge Kent (which we previously discussed here and here). The money quote:

[Case manager Cathy] McBroom was summoned to the judge’s chambers on Friday, March 23, at about 3 p.m.

Her hands were full of legal papers when the judge — a former high school athlete who is more than 6 inches taller and at least 100 pounds heavier — asked for a hug.

She told him she didn’t think that was appropriate, but reluctantly approached.

The judge grabbed Mc-Broom, pulled up her blouse and her bra and put his mouth on her breast. Then, Kent forced her head down toward his crotch.

As McBroom struggled, Kent kept telling the married mother of three what he wanted to do to her in words too graphic to publish. The papers fell to the floor. The pet bulldog Kent kept in his chambers began to bark.

The incident was interrupted by the sound of footsteps from another staff member in the corridor, and the judge loosened his grip. As she left, the judge said McBroom was a good case manager and then made suggestions about engaging in a sexual act.

McBroom ran out crying.

Review additional allegations, including a claim by a different ex-employee that Judge Kent once told her he could “service me when my husband was being treated for prostate cancer,” by clicking here.
How far did this federal judge go? [Houston Chronicle]

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