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

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]

Kiss Me I'm a Lawyer mug Above the Law blog.jpgThat’s the basic question posed by this interesting piece, currently the most emailed article on the New York Times website. After describing some of the sufferings of lawyers and doctors today, Alex Williams writes:

[I]n the days when a successful career was built on a number of tacitly recognized pillars — outsize pay, long-term security, impressive schooling and authority over grave matters — doctors and lawyers were perched atop them all.

Now, those pillars have started to wobble.

“The older professions are great, they’re wonderful,” said Richard Florida, the author of “The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life” (Basic Books, 2003). “But they’ve lost their allure, their status. And it isn’t about money.”

Oh really? Tell that to the readers of ATL. Compensation coverage sends our traffic through the roof.
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law and Medicine: Not As Cool as They Used To Be?”

* Hot lawyers make more money. And we needed a study to tell us this? [Legal Blog Watch via ABA Journal; WSJ Law Blog]
* A truly insane murder case. And yes, Debra Opri — who has represented Michael Jackson and Larry Birkhead, among other boldface names — is on the scene. [DealBreaker; HedgeFund.net]
* Ann Althouse wonders: “We’ve already seen every possible permutation of Hillary, haven’t we?” (And this is why we adore HRC — she’s the Madonna of modern American politics, constantly reinventing herself.) [Althouse]
* When it comes to law firm partnership, breaking up is hard to do. Especially when criminal charges are involved. [National Law Journal via Blogonaut]

We have received over 1,300 responses to our ATL / Lateral Link survey on bonuses (accessible here). So far, we’ve told you about New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles (take the survey on that page to see the results), and San Francisco / Silicon Valley.
Today’s new results are from Boston. Because a number of Boston firms had yet to announce their bonuses at the time of the survey (ahem, Goodwin?), the sample size for Boston, like its pizza and bagels, was not quite on par with New York’s. The salaries and bonuses reported, however, are generally in line with the other cities we’ve posted.
The breakdowns of bonus and base compensation, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey Results: Bonuses (Boston)”

Szul Jewelry web ad orgasm cunnilingus Above the Law blog.jpgWe weren’t surprised to see this case get a shout-out on I Am Lawsuit Abuse. From the AP:

A model who says she has worked hard to maintain a wholesome image has filed a $5 million lawsuit complaining that a jewelry company’s video advertisement in which she writhes and moans looks pornographic.

The commercial, seen on the Internet in a clip entitled “Rock Her World,” shows a woman wearing blue lacy lingerie and a diamond necklace while moaning and stroking her face and neck. It ends with the Web address for the jewelry company, Szul.com.

The 37-year-old woman claims in her lawsuit that she did not “consent to or authorize the use of her likeness, picture, image or name to simulate a female having an orgasm or otherwise experiencing sexual pleasure.”

Actually, we prefer the description of the New York Daily News:

The 35-second “Rock Her World” spot features the model rubbing her teal teddy and purring with pleasure to the hard-grinding sounds of a guitar as the slogan, “Jewelry works every time” pops up onscreen.

But look, no need to rely on print descriptions of the ad. One of the beauties of the internet as a medium is that, when it comes to audio or video, you can judge for yourself. So check out the clip — which, we warn you, is quasi-NSFW (at least with the sound turned on) — over at Blogonaut.
Done watching? Okay. We concur with our fellow blogger:

[W]e find it hard to believe that Jane Doe’s behavior on the ad could be taken for anything resembling the “wholesome” persona she claims was maligned. What could she have been thinking when she made the ad?

Indeed. What exactly did she think she was advertising when she consented to be filmed, clad in pastel lingerie, writhing on a bed? Anti-epilepsy drugs?
Anyway, casting directors, consider yourselves warned. If the woman from the Szul Jewelry ad shows up for your casting call, don’t even think of using her in that Herbal Essences ad.
Oh, and the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from When Harry Met Sally? NOT FUNNY.
Update: Ted Frank has written about the case at Overlawyered. We like the title of his post, as well as this quip: “And, of course, she didn’t have to roll around on the bed in the first place.”
But he notes, in fairness, that the model-plaintiff is claiming no release (hehe). That might be a legitimate basis for a lawsuit.
Model’s suit: You used the video you took of me [Overlawyered]
NY Model Sues Jewelry Co for $5M Over R-Rated Web Ad [Blogonaut]
Model sues Szul Jewelry over Web ad [New York Daily News]
NY Lawsuit: My Commercial Looks Lewd [Associated Press]
Rock Her World [YouTube (mildly NSFW)]

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgThe holiday season is pretty much over, and bonus season kinda is, too. But it’s not completely over, so we’ll still bring you occasional updates on news that comes across our desk. If you have information to share, please email us (subject line: “Associate Bonus Watch”).
While placing info in the comments is helpful, comments aren’t subject to verification and follow-up in the same way as emails. Also, due to sheer volume, we can’t (and don’t) read every last comment. So email is still the best way to send us bonus info (or request that we cover a given topic).
Here are some associate bonus odds and ends:
1. Quinn Emanuel: Lots of unhappy campers. The upshot is that they employed a very bright-line 2100 hours cutoff to get the full bonus. More details, after the jump.
2. Fish & Richardson: They announced a new compensation plan back in November. It didn’t go over so well. To their credit, they seem to be reversing themselves (for the most part; look out for a higher hours requirement). More details, after the jump.
3. Covington & Burling (New York): We previously reported on their special bonuses, which matched market. In case you were wondering, they’re also paying the standard year-end bonuses (in New York).
4. Bracewell & Giuliani (New York): We haven’t written much about them before. But since name partner Rudy Giuliani is in the news a lot lately, thanks to his presidential bid, and some folks were kind enough to send their memo our way, we provide their bonus announcement after the jump.
5. Kasowitz Benson: We also haven’t written much about Kasowitz Benson before. It’s a very profitable shop, and a bit on the secretive side. Since several people passed along their bonus memo, though, we’re happy to post it after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: A Few More Updates”

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