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

document review Above the Law blog.jpgThat’s the question that Arin Greenwood — who previously brought us this great article, as you may recall — tackles in a long but interesting piece for the Washington City Paper, entitled Attorney at Blah. Greenwood writes:

For more and more law school graduates, this is the legal life: On a given day, they may plow through a few hundred documents—e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, memos, and anything else on a hard drive. Each document appears on their computer screen. They read it, then click one of the buttons on the screen that says “relevant” or “not relevant,” and then they look at the next document.

This isn’t anyone’s dream job, but more and more lawyers in big cities around the country are finding that seven years of higher education, crushing student loans, and an unfriendly job market have brought them to windowless rooms around the city, where they do well-paid work that sometimes seems to require no more than a law degree, the use of a single index finger, and the ability to sit still for 15 hours a day. Is this being a lawyer? It is now.

The best stuff is at the beginning, in which Greenwood paints a vivid (and hilarious) picture of a temp attorney’s daily grind of document review. The end of the piece, a description of the grim realities of the legal job market for most law school graduates, might be interesting to lay readers, but it will be all too familiar to anyone who’s heard of Loyola 2L.

Check out the full piece by clicking here.

Attorney at Blah [Washington City Paper]

Over at Bear Stearns, the powers-that-be have blocked employees from reading our sibling site, DealBreaker. This is not surprising. Given the mass layoffs, Bear needs to keep the survivors busy.
The good news, however, is that Bear Stearns employees can still read Above the Law (although query why they’d want to). See here.
We must confess that we’re kind of jealous. Why hasn’t any law firm blocked ATL? The prospect is hard to fathom, but could it be that we’re insufficiently trashy around here?
Bear Stearns Doesn’t Hate DealBreaker, Just DealBreaker Commenters/People Talking About The Sex Going On In The Bear Stearns 14th Floor Men’s Room [DealBreaker]

Hogan Hartson LLP Above the Law blog.JPGLate last month, we posted what appeared to be a White & Case memo, concerning requests for vacation during the Christmas week this year. There was some debate in the comments about the memo’s authenticity and/or how widely it was distributed (e.g., maybe it was just for the M&A group). But the gist of the memo, which shouldn’t be that shocking, is that everybody wants that week off — so if you were hoping to take vacation that week, you might want to rethink your plans.
Down in D.C., Hogan & Hartson apparently has a much more generous holiday policy. They just announced that, since Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Tuesdays this year, the firm will be closed on both of the preceding Mondays: December 24 and December 31. The firm characterizes these office closings as “an expression of thanks for the dedication and hard work of our lawyers and staff this past year.”
But are associates happy about this news? In some quarters, it’s being viewed cynically:

We have been fighting with H&H regarding decent bonuses this year, especially given their usual disgraceful examples of bonuses. This seems to be their way of bonusing us (without actually paying). Give us more days off, so it is more difficult to make your minimum hours the next year. The partners are tight and don’t seem to want to pay any form of market or even reasonable bonuses despite unprecedented productivity and billing rates this last fiscal year.

For those of you who are curious, the Hogan & Hartson memo appears after the jump.
Earlier: Making the Case for a White Christmas at Biglaw

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Hogan & Hartson to… Two Extra Days Off!”

south carolina map bar exam controversy.jpgAs you know from our extensive coverage of Laptopgate, we follow bar exam controversies quite closely. So we can’t ignore what’s going on down in South Carolina (especially since we’ve been on a southern kick as of late, what with all our coverage of Emory Law School).
A very juicy possible scandal is brewing down in the Palmetto State. We believe the story was first broken by FITSNews. But for those of you who like your news sources older and more MSM-y, here’s an article from The State:

The state’s top court has changed the grades for 20 people — including the children of a prominent state lawmaker and a longtime circuit judge — who earlier flunked the test required to practice law in South Carolina.

The S.C. Supreme Court in last week’s order said the wills, trusts and estates section of the July exam would “not be considered” in determining a test-taker’s overall score, though the justices gave no reasons for their decision.

The students include the daughters of state Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Richland, chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee; and Circuit Judge Paul Burch of Pageland, The State confirmed Thursday in interviews with the two men.

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Up With the South Carolina Bar Exam?”

aileen mcgrath aileen marie mcgrath jason gillenwater jason e gillenwater.jpgIn October 2006, when LEWW reviewed her wedding, we wrote of Aileen McGrath (at right, with handsome hubby Jason Gillenwater):

Aileen is the President of the Harvard Law Review. HELLO!!! And this isn’t mentioned in the announcement, but we’ve learned that she’ll be clerking next year for Chief Judge Michael Boudin, of the First Circuit — feeder judge extraordinaire.

So, Aileen, have you picked which Supreme Court justice you’d like to clerk for?

She has. We’ve learned that Aileen McGrath (Harvard 2007 / Boudin) has accepted an offer to clerk for Justice Stephen G. Breyer in October Term 2008. One source tells us: “[S]he’s universally recognized as brilliant. She was president of the law review and a Sears Prize winner.”
We also hear that the fourth clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas for OT 2008 is a D.C. Circuit clerk (believed to be clerking for Judge David Sentelle). Will someone please give up the name?
Update: Her name is Claire Evans. She’s a 2002 graduate of Rutgers School of Law – Camden, and she’s the first alum of the school to score a SCOTUS clerkship. She clerked for Judge Jerome Simandle (D.N.J.) in 2003, and then for Michael Chertoff, back when he was still on the Third Circuit. Reports our source:

“Chertoff liked Claire so much that he took her to the Department of Homeland Security when he left the bench for Washington. Apparently, Claire continues to amaze and has now secured the most coveted of credentials — a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship.”

“[S]he holds the highest cumulative grade point average in the history of Rutgers School of Law – Camden. And, because of a grading change implemented the year after Claire graduated, it is now mathematically impossible for Claire’s epic GPA to ever be topped.”

Finally, expect more SCOTUS clerk hires in the near future. From an in-the-know tipster:

There’s movement among the justices now. At least Alito, Roberts, Kennedy & Breyer have scheduled interviews in the last few days. Kennedy has scheduled pre-screen interviews, at least some of which are with Judge Kozinski.

The current tally of OT 2008 Supreme Court clerks, with Aileen McGrath and Claire Evans added, appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: OT 2008 (Update #7)”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgThe firm of Kaye Scholer is the latest to jump on the bonus bandwagon. They’ve just announced year-end and special bonuses. The year-end bonuses are issued in ranges for each class; the special bonuses, to be paid “on a discretionary basis,” appear to be on the standard scale ($10k/$15k/$20k, etc.).
Memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: Kaye Scholer Announces”

dog French bulldog Above the Law blog.jpgLarge-firm lawyers are a busy lot. Who has time to walk the dog?
With this in mind, we pass along an inquiry from a reporter friend. She’s working on a story for a New York business publication about unusual perks at law firms — you know, like defibrillators.
Recruiters have told her that pet care services, such as dog-walking, are popular perks. But she has been unable to obtain confirmation. We also didn’t know offhand of specific firms that will pamper your pooch, as you bill away the hours.
But maybe some of you have this knowledge? If you know of a New York law firm that offers pet perks to its associates, please drop her a line, by email. Thanks.

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgSorry to leave you unattended for a while — we were off appearing on this panel. We left some items to be published in our absence, but unfortunately, continuing technical difficulties — which frustrate us even more than they frustrate you — prevented their posting.
In case you’re wondering, we have no confirmed Biglaw bonus news to report right now. It seems that nowadays firms are holding their bonus news until the end of the day, perhaps in the hope that it will be less disruptive to associates billing away hours. But that just means associates spend the mornings and afternoons wondering about their financial fates — and visiting sites like this one.
Anyway, we do have some bonus news, of a different sort. From a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Justice:

Any thought of doing a post on government attorney bonuses? Such as they are, that is. Might give some of the Biglaw associates who are wailing and gnashing their teeth a little perspective.

Just to get the ball rolling, my year-end bonus was $694.28. And as a special bonus, I got 8 hours of annual leave. Woot!

Are you at a firm that’s giving out standard year-end bonuses, but not “special” bonuses (or at least not across the board)? Well, look on the bright side: at least your bonus is denominated in the thousands.
Feel free to discuss your experiences with government lawyer “bonuses” in the comments. Thanks.
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch 2007 archives (scroll down)

Emory Law School.jpgIn response to yesterday’s post about recent events in Emory Law School’s career services office (which has generated an insane number of comments), we received an email from Dean David Partlett. We thank Dean Partlett for his message. Here it is:

Dear David,

I write regarding questions surrounding Laurie Hartman’s resignation from Emory School of Law a few weeks ago. Given the level of discussion surrounding this topic, I feel a little clarification is necessary.

Laurie Hartman served as Assistant Dean of Career Services at Emory for three years. During that time, the law school underwent an extensive external review of the office and received high marks for the strength of the services provided by the office. Dean Hartman, after serving for three years, decided to resign from her position to pursue other career opportunities. Her resignation was amicable. As you know, there is never a good time for a staff member in an office as important as Career Services to leave. Given the critical nature of services provided by this office, the administration of the law school moved quickly to address the vacancy.

Read the balance of Dean Partlett’s message, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Going on at Emory Law School? Dean Partlett Explains”

Clifford Chance CC Above the Law blog.jpgIf you’re looking for confirmation of the Clifford Chance bonus announcement we posted yesterday, check out this short article from Legal Week.
In other CC news, the firm is making overtures to LGBT lawyers, in the wake of its own Brokeback Lawfirm scandal. From TheLawyer.com:

Clifford Chance is setting up a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) network just months after settling a sexual orientation discrimination claim from former competition partner Michael Bryceland….

Clifford Chance tax partner Stephen Shea, who has been active in setting up the LGBT group, said the firm established the network to further foster diversity, but also to respond to client demand. As reported by The Lawyer (21 May), JPMorgan now asks prospective panel firms for diversity statistics and companies such as Transport for London are following suit.

This is par for the course — and in the U.S., too. If you want law firms to focus more on diversity, or if you think they focus too much on it already, you need to look to their clients. Much of Biglaw’s current emphasis on diversity is being driven by clients: Fortune 500 companies that want to be able to say they have diverse teams of lawyers handling their legal matters.
Clifford Chance Joins the N.Y. Bonus Wars [Legal Week]
Clifford Chance set to launch gay network [TheLawyer.com]
Earlier: Associate Bonus Watch: Clifford Chance Matches (For the Survivors)

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