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

Thacher Proffitt Wood LLP Above the Law blog.jpgIn the world of Biglaw, bad news and good news go hand in hand these days. Recall that Clifford Chance announced associate layoffs and generous bonuses in the same week.
And now Thacher Proffitt & Wood, on the heels of yesterday’s news about likely future layoffs, is raising base salaries for its senior associates. We haven’t seen the full memo yet, but here’s an excerpt:

“It has long been a primary principle of our attorney compensation philosophy in New York and Washington DC to have our base salaries and annual discretionary bonuses be competitive with the top firms in New York City. In that regard, we are announcing the following changes to associate compensation…”

Our sources describe it as basically a match for the class of 2002 and more senior: 2002 – $250,000, 2001 – $265,000, 2000 – $280,000, and 1999 – $290,000.
Update (2:55 PM): We now have the memo. It appears — together with additional discussion, including a word about bonuses — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: Thacher Proffitt???”

Alex Kozinski Alex S Kozinski Judge Above the Law hot hottie superhottie federal judiciary.jpgThis Friday, at the Ninth Circuit courthouse in San Francisco, a ceremonial “passing of the gavel” will be held. The court’s outgoing chief judge, Mary M. Schroeder, will hand over the gavel to her successor, Alex Kozinski. Details about the ceremony appear in this press release (PDF).
From How Appealing (additional links collected below):

Judge Kozinski was able to sneak some humor into the news release:

“The chief judge of the circuit assumes the position based on seniority. The chief judge is the judge in regular active service who is senior in commission of those judges who are (1) 64 years of age or under; (2) have served for one year or more as a circuit judge; and (3) have not served previously as chief judge. Judge Kozinski also believes that looks count, though he can provide no support for that proposition.

That last sentence, we’re guessing, is a nod to Judge Kozinski’s victory in our Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary contest. With such a robust sense of humor, is it any surprise that Judge Kozinski has his own Facebook fan club?
The Ninth Circuit’s press release states that “still and video cameras will be permitted” at the gavel passing ceremony, which is taking place on Friday, November 30, at 4 p.m., in Courtroom One of the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse. If an ATL reader (or readers) would be willing to take pictures or videos and send them our way, we’d be most grateful. Thanks!
Ninth Circuit Attempts to Prepare Itself for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski [How Appealing]
‘Hottie’ Judge Kozinski Continues Joke in Press Release [ABA Journal]
Apochiefosis [Volokh Conspiracy]
Gavel Passing to Mark Changing of the Guard for Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF) [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit]

Eric Krautheimer 2 Eric M Krautheimer Aaron Charney Sullivan & Cromwell Above the Law blog.jpgBefore Thanksgiving, we put up an open thread devoted to discussion of the California bar exam. We’re surprised that nobody mentioned this interesting tidbit of news (which we learned about from a tipster via email):

High-powered Sullivan & Cromwell partner Eric Krautheimer, the alleged tormentor of gay associate Aaron Charney, took and passed the July 2007 California bar exam.

Congratulations, Mr. Krautheimer!
Back in April, at the height of the Aaron Charney controversy, it was rumored that Krautheimer was going to be transferred to S&C’s Los Angeles office. Some speculated that it was to remove him from the New York office, where Brokeback Lawfirm all went down. But if Krautheimer’s move to the West Coast is still going forward, despite the settlement of the Charney lawsuit, we’re guessing Krautheimer has his own personal reasons for wanting to move to L.A.
On our earlier post about the move rumors, a commenter called S&C LA wrote: “No truth to this at all. Sorry, this rumor is just that and nothing more.” Presumably this commenter thinks that Eric Krautheimer — a leading M&A lawyer, and a partner making millions of dollars a year, at one of the nation’s top corporate law firms — took California’s three-day bar exam just for fun.
It must have been strange for a veteran lawyer, almost 15 years out of law school, to be taking the bar next to newly minted law school graduates — including 18-year-old Kathleen Holtz. But then again, former Stanford Law School dean Kathleen Sullivan did it — twice.
On the S&C website, Eric Krautheimer is still listed as based in New York. But expect to see him in L.A. sometime soon, now that he’s a member of the California bar.
P.S. On the S&C website, the link to Eric Krautheimer’s bio was moved from here to here. Was the firm trying to render all of ATL’s links to his bio obsolete? If so, nice try — but nothing that a site-wide “Find and Replace” can’t fix.
July 2007 California Bar Examination Pass List [State Bar of California]
Earlier: Brokeback Lawfirm: Is Eric Krautheimer Headed for Hollywood?

Adolf Hitler paralegal Above the Law blog.jpgA legal staffing agency put up an advertisement soliciting applications for a temporary paralegal position. Cover letters and résumés started rolling in. Like this one:

Hello there,

I am not a paralegal. But, I type 85 WPM and used to be [an] executive assistant and have multiple skillsets, easy to train, that honestly set me $1000 over the salary of a degreed political science bachelors degreed [sic] person. Sadly, she was aggressive and began reading Hitler’s methods and worked her way to stop my success with her deception.

The compliance lawyer finally figured out what she was doing and wound up getting rid of her. She now works in buying and selling electrical components somewhere.

So, I have no way to measure her value or mine within this paralegal field. I’ll let you be the judge.

A cover letter referencing Hitler? + 10 points. We don’t know what “Hitler’s methods” consist of, but then again, we never read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Nazis.
Read the rest of this long, strange, rambling cover letter — does the applicant need a paralegal gig, or a therapist? — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Not To Respond to an Ad for Temporary Paralegal Assistance”

spanking Stephen Douglas Columbia Above the Law blog.jpgCall us old-fashioned, barbaric, or unenlightened — but this strikes us as a bit ridiculous. From ABC News:

Massachusetts lawmakers say a proposed measure that would ban parents from spanking their children, even in their own homes, is a way to protect kids from abuse. But many parents believe it’s an example of government run amok.

In all 50 states, parents are legally allowed to spank their children. But in 29 states it’s illegal for a teacher to practice corporal punishment, including spanking.

A Massachusetts nurse is hoping to change that and make the state the first in the nation to ban corporal punishment at home.

“I think it’s ironic that domestic violence applies to everyone except the most vulnerable — children,” said Kathleen Wolf, who wrote the bill.

Massachusetts lawmakers will consider the bill today.

Ah, the People’s Republic of Massachusetts. If Willie Horton had gotten spanked more as a kid, maybe he wouldn’t have turned to a life of crime.
More discussion, plus the obligatory reader poll — yes, we really do care what you think! — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child; Use the Rod, Break the Law?”

Conde Nast Building Four Times Square 4 Times Square Skadden Arps Above the Law blog.jpgWondering where to spend New Year’s Eve this year? Well, if you’re in New York City, do you have any friends over at Skadden? Surely you must. Considering that the firm recently passed the 2,000 attorney mark, everyone has friends at Skadden (if they don’t work there themselves).
From an internal email by “New York office guru” Wally Schwartz, posted at the Skadden Insider blog:

Since our 4 Times Square office is located in such close proximity to New York City’s New Year’s Eve celebration many employees have rung in the New Year by viewing the festivities from our offices. For the most part these gatherings have been enjoyable and appropriate. However, during last year’s celebration there were several problems caused by an excessive number of guests, and, in some cases, excessive drinking.

[T]he following policies are being implemented for this year’s celebration:

Each employee is limited to inviting a maximum of three guests, each of whom must be registered with security….

Guests must be accompanied, or met, by their Skadden host in order to be admitted.

No alcohol will be permitted.

A New Year’s Eve celebration without booze? That sucks.
Moral of the story: If you’re spending New Year’s Eve at SASMF, get royally trashed before showing up at Four Times Square.
No vodka in the Skadden lemonade [Skadden Insider]

This episode gives new meaning to the term “flip phone.” A cell phone that went off during court proceedings caused one judge to, well, flip out. From the NYT’s City Room blog:

Robert Restaino Judge Robert M Restaino Rob Restaino AboveTheLaw blog.jpgThe next time you pass through the city court system in Niagara Falls, N.Y., remember to turn your cellphone off.

Today, the Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended the removal of a judge in Niagara Falls City Court who had, what the commission’s chairman, Raoul L. Felder, called, “two hours of inexplicable madness” when a cellphone rang in his courtroom.

Specifically, on the morning of March 11, 2005, the judge, Robert M. Restaino, was presiding over a slate of domestic violence cases when he heard a phone ring in his courtroom. He told the roughly 70 people in the courtroom, according to the commission’s report, that “every single person is going to jail in this courtroom” unless the phone was turned over.

Look, we hate cellphones ringing at inappropriate times as much as the next guy. But was Judge Restaino’s reaction a tad over the top? We suggest — with respect, Your Honor — that you’re a few beeps short of a ringtone.
Read what happened next, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge of the Day: Robert Restaino”

Crocodile Dundee Paul Hogan Above the Law blog.jpg* Paul Tvetenstrand, managing partner of Thacher Proffitt & Wood, talks to the Wall Street Journal’s Jamie Heller about the imminent associate layoffs (previously discussed here). [WSJ Law Blog]
* Our law school classmate, Professor Lior Strahilevitz, has a fascinating new article coming out in the Northwestern University Law Review: “Reputation Nation: Law in an Era of Ubiquitous Personal Information.” [SSRN via Concurring Opinions]
* Outgoing American Red Cross president Mark W. Everson would have been our Lawyer of the Day (except the former IRS commissioner is not a lawyer). [Washington Post]
* “The High Price of Meat Loaf.” [New York Times (second item)]
* Attention Loyola 2L: rising stars of legal academia are about to descend upon your law school. [PrawfsBlawg]
* For those of you old enough to remember Crocodile Dundee: “That’s not a Blawg Review — that’s a Blawg Review.” Here’s Blawg Review #136, courtesy of Aussie Peter Black. [Freedom to Differ via Blawg Review; see also Blawg Review (video plug)]

Samuel Kent Judge Samuel B Kent Above the Law blog.jpgAs regular ATL readers will recall, Judge Samuel B. Kent (S.D. Texas) is currently on leave from the bench (although still collecting his $165,200 salary). The Fifth Circuit suspended him after allegations of what it described as sexual harassment.
But Judge Kent’s troubles may not be over yet. From the Galveston County Daily News (via How Appealing):

A woman who has accused U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of unwanted sexual touching will have her case reheard by a disciplinary panel of the 5th Judicial Circuit, her attorney, Rusty Hardin, said late Monday.

Late that afternoon, Hardin gave the panel summaries of interviews his team did of 20 people who have had contact with Kent. Hardin claims those interviews show that Kent has misbehaved toward women since shortly after he was named to the federal bench in Galveston in the early 1990s.

Hardin said he and his client are asking that the panel refer the matter to the Judicial Council of the United States with a recommendation that Kent be impeached.

Additional discussion, plus a reader poll, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judge Samuel Kent: A Bigger Horndog Than Bill Clinton?”

recycling environmental eco friendly law firms Above the Law blog.jpgAt least it’s a better way to spend the firm’s money than a theme song (mp3). From The Recorder:

Nixon Peabody has appointed a chief sustainability officer, hoping not only to reduce the firm’s environmental impact, but to increase its impact on clients. Carolyn Kaplan, a counsel in the firm’s energy and environmental practice, will spend at least a quarter of her time in the new position.

So what exactly will Ms. Kaplan do in this new gig? Send around annoying firm-wide emails telling people to recycle those reams of useless Westlaw print-outs? Tell associates to turn off the lights when they leave their offices (even if it will tip off the partners to their departures)?

Kaplan said the position has two aspects: looking internally at ways to reduce the firm’s production of CO2, or its carbon footprint, and determining how attorneys can use the firm’s experience to better understand clients dealing with environmental regulation and related issues. Both of those could make the firm greener in the financial sense, too, she said.

More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Everyone Is Greener at Nixon Peabody”

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