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

LSU Tigers continuance motion Above the Law blog.jpgCheck out this continuance motion (PDF), filed yesterday in Louisiana state court. It’s pretty great — especially the footnotes.
Update: As noted in the comments, there is precedent for this motion in Louisiana state court. See Danos v. Avondale Industries, Inc. (unpublished order).
P.S. We’re still accepting applications for the position of ATL “Sports and the Law” columnist (details here). If you’ve already applied, thank you for your application. We are reviewing the many excellent submissions and will announce a decision in the new year. Thanks!
Motion to Continue Trial Due to Conflict with the LSU Tigers National Championship Game
[Joseph Harrell v. Fred Spencer and Imperial Casualty Insurance Company]

We’re still gathering responses to Monday’s survey, which asks you how big your bonus was (or is going to be). At last count, around 1,250 of you had responded, and you can still add your two cents (which is reportedly close to “market” at MWE) over here.
About a third of you still haven’t heard whether your firm will pay bonuses, and that’s clearly a source of deep frustration. But many of you have reported that the wait for your numbers is nowhere near as frustrating as the wait for the actual check. So here’s an open thread for discussion of the subject.
To kick off the discussion, here’s a tip we received from an associate in Washington, DC:

How about a story on mid-sized firms (who recruit from T14 schools) who intentionally wait until February-March to give bonuses? By doing so, they must know that the bulk of lateral openings will have come and gone by the time bonuses are given out — so if an associate waits for his bonus to lateral, it’s too late.

Today’s featured survey, brought to you by ATL and Lateral Link, is on the same topic. It appears below.
In the spirit of delayed gratification, the next batch of results from Monday’s survey will appear after you complete the survey. So far, we’ve revealed the bonus and salary responses from New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Yesterday, Los Angeles and San Francisco were neck and neck in the number of responses, while Boston made a proud showing in the comments.
Which city will we reveal next? Fill out the following survey to find out.
Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results. See the next batch of results from Monday’s survey after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Featured Job Survey: Bonus Timing and Lateral Moves”

  • 21 Dec 2007 at 12:35 PM
  • Uncategorized

Mayer Brown: WLFWALF?

Mayer Brown new logo Above the Law blog.jpgTime for some quick follow-up on yesterday’s intriguing email about “an exciting, transformational event” for Mayer Brown. As we speculated, the big news is a merger announcement.
From an article by Ameet Sachdev the Chicago Tribune:

Mayer Brown plans to announce Friday an agreement to join forces with a large Hong Kong firm in a deal that would dramatically expand the Chicago law firm’s Asian presence, the Chicago Tribune has learned.

Mayer Brown is teaming up with Johnson, Stokes & Master, one of Hong Kong’s oldest law firms known for its stellar reputation in banking and finance, also a strength of Mayer’s.

Note that it’s “Stokes,” not “Strokes.” A firm named “Johnson, Strokes & Master” surely would have made this list of funny law firm names. In Asia, the firm will be known as Mayer Brown JSM (which mercifully contains no “i”; but note that “jism” is a legitimate word, and a good way to get rid of your “J” if you enjoy online Scrabble, as we do).
An ATL source at the firm reports:

We just got out of the worldwide meeting they had for associates and counsel, and I thought it was pretty exciting. In its presentations in the past, it has always mentioned that it wanted to have a significant Asia presence. They said that JSM was one of the top law firms in Asia, and the complementary mix of practice groups and clients will lead to lots of “synergies” (that was the big buzz word).

Something you might find interesting — they put up a new chart ranking law firms by worldwide revenue. We jumped from 13th (with $1.1bn) to 10th (with $1.35bn). JSM last year had about $130 million in revenue on only 41 partners. I’m pretty psyched about it….

Despite $1.3 billion in revenue and 1800 lawyers, the merged firm plans to expand further. From the Financial Times:

The firms expect to grow substantially after the merger. Mr Holzhauer projects annual revenue to hit $2bn ”very quickly” and Ms Lo predicts earnings of $4bn within two to three years. ”This kind of growth cannot be obtained by just organic growth alone,” said Ms Lo.

Up to now, Mayer Brown’s Asia presence has been limited to one office in Hong Kong and a representative office in Beijing. JSM, whose clients include HSBC, Bank of China and Cathay Pacific, has 200 lawyers in mainland China, but none outside Asia.

Meanwhile, in other MB news, the firm just announced New York bonuses. Memo after the jump.
Mayer Brown to merge with big Hong Kong firm [Chicago Tribune]
Mayer Brown merging with Hong Kong’s JSM [Financial Times]
Earlier: Mayer Brown Is A Woman Now

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Mayer Brown: WLFWALF?”


We’ve previously reported on improved parental leave policies at Latham & Watkins, Davis Polk, and Simpson Thacher. We predicted that “with respect to maternity leave for birth mothers, 18 weeks will become the new ‘market rate.'”
Perhaps it already is. Tipsters have written in to advise us that Sullivan & Cromwell and Weil Gosthal & Manges went to 18 weeks some time ago — S&C back in August, and Weil in September.
For anyone who is interested, more details appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Biglaw Perk Watch: S&C and Weil Also Up Parental Leave”

associate bonus watch 2007 law firm Above the Law blog.jpgAs you may recall, the reaction of ATL readers to the bonus announcement of O’Melveny & Myers was decidedly unfavorable. Now the Daily Journal (subscription) — in an article entitled “O’Melveny & Myers’ Below-Market Bonus Disappoints Associates,” by Maya Meinert and Rebecca Cho — has taken notice:

This week’s bonus announcement from Los Angeles-based firm O’Melveny & Myers has caused much dismay among associates in the firm’s California and Washington, D.C., offices – the law blog AboveTheLaw.com’s post on the subject generated more than 200 comments – because the standard bonuses remain unchanged from last year and are well below what is considered “market,” based on New York numbers.

Should other major players in California pay more, O’Melveny could feel the impact among its associate ranks, industry observers said.

According to a memo obtained by AboveTheLaw.com, O’Melveny’s standard bonuses range from $27,500 for first-year associates to $45,000 for those in their seventh year and beyond. The bonuses are tied to a rating system based on the firm’s expectations and a minimum billable-hour requirement of 1,950.

More excerpts and discussion, including the firm’s reaction when contacted by the Daily Journal, appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Bonus Watch: O’Melveny & Myers Defends Its ‘Below-Market’ Bonuses”

Norman Schoenfeld Allen Overy LLP Above the Law blog.jpgWe have to step out for a bit (company holiday party). We’ve only skimmed this Complaint (PDF), just filed in the Southern District of New York, by a Jewish lawyer against his former employer, Allen & Overy.
Check out the Complaint for yourself, by clicking here (PDF), and offer your thoughts in the comments. We look forward to reviewing your reflections when we return.
P.S. A special request: nicknames for this lawsuit, a la “Brokeback Lawfirm” for the Aaron Charney case, are especially welcome.
Complaint: Norman Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy (PDF)
Update: Here is the firm’s statement, emailed to us by a spokesperson:

Allen & Overy denies all allegations of discrimination. This person’s employment was terminated based solely on performance within his orientation period, a trial period of time mandated for all employees. He also failed to disclose to Allen & Overy the fact of his previous employment at another law firm.

Our firm has a strict written policy prohibiting any form of discrimination, and we provide all new employees and partners training in both diversity awareness and harassment prevention. Over the past several years, we have also instituted live diversity training for all of our existing attorneys and managers. We will vigorously defend our proud reputation of diversity and inclusion and are confident of a positive outcome for Allen & Overy with respect to these allegations.

We’ll write more about this later. If you have any firsthand information to pass along about the events in question, please email us. Thanks.

* Who says lawyers can’t be stylish? [Fashionista]
* Guess this makes Judge Porteous officially worse than Judge Kent. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
* Should federal judges be barred from reading blogs? [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Of course not. Unless they’re written by robots. [Overlawyered]

Following in the footsteps of Latham & Watkins and Simpson Thacher, whose moves were first reported in these pages, Davis Polk has just adopted a new and improved “Primary Caregiver Leave” policy.
We predict that, with respect to maternity leave for birth mothers, 18 weeks will become the new “market rate.” One tipster quips: “Four and a half months of paid time off almost makes me want to have kids.”
Here’s the email, which went out around half an hour ago:

From: **** On Behalf Of Management Committee
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 3:07 PM
To: all.lawyers
Subject: Primary Caregiver Leave Policy

We are pleased to announce that, effective immediately, the firm has adopted a new Primary Caregiver Leave policy, which will provide lawyers who are primary caregivers to a newborn or newly adopted child with up to six weeks of paid leave within the first six months of the birth or adoption of a child. This leave is in addition to the other parental and disability/maternity leaves offered by the firm. For example, a Davis Polk associate who gives birth and is the child’s primary caregiver will now be eligible for up to 18 weeks of paid leave.

For additional information about the new Primary Caregiver Leave policy and the policies on Parental Leave and Disability/Maternity Leave, please consult the Lawyers’ Handbook.

Thank you.

So far we’re up to around 1,200 responses to Monday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, which asks you how big your bonus was (or is going to be).
So far we’ve told you about New York and Washington, DC. Today, we’re adding a third city. It was a close call between L.A., San Francisco, or Chicago, but we got a few more responses from Chicago, so it’s today’s new city.
We’re still accepting responses to the survey, and the more (valid) responses we get from your city, the more likely it is to be the next city we reveal. To participate, click here.
Check out the results, after the jump.

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

Mayer Brown new logo Above the Law blog.jpgStill no bonus announcement from Mayer Brown. But check out this intriguing email, sent out in the last hour:

From: D’Esposito, Jr., Julian C.
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 12:41 PM
To: FW-Assocs; FW-Cnsl
Cc: Holzhauer, James D.; Geller, Kenneth S.; Maher, Paul; Favoriti, Gail A.; Pepper, Margery; Madden, Emilie S.; Dabrowski, Heidi M.; Reichert, Kathleen S.; Harris, Robert; Staiano, David; Couleur, Nancy Jo; Belic, Indira; Burdett, Shannon T.; Burkes, Eugenia; Corby, Candice; Harris, Russell; Holthaus, John H.; Kennedy, Clinton D.; Kislow, Connie; Ku, Alice; Loessl, Angela-Katrin; Tulic, Vesna; Watson, John; Wells, Stephen R.

Subject: Firmwide Meeting on Friday, December 21

Please plan to attend a Firmwide video presentation by the office of the Chairman on December 21 that will describe an exciting, transformational event for the Firm. The meeting will begin promptly at 8am PST, 10am CST, 11 am EST, 2pm BRST, 4 GMT, 5 CET and 12 am Saturday HKST. The Director of Administration will inform you of the location of the meeting in your office. If you are out of the office, there will be a limited number of dial-in lines, the number for which can be obtained from the DoA. You should receive an Outlook calendar notice of this meeting later today.

____________________________________________

Julian C. D’Esposito

Mayer Brown LLP
71 S. Wacker
Chicago, IL 60606

What could this “exciting, transformational event” be? We assume it’s not the recent indictment of partner Joseph Collins, since that’s already public.
Maybe a merger is in the works? It wouldn’t be the first in the firm’s history. The firm’s former name, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, reflected the merger of U.S.-based Mayer, Brown & Platt with U.K.-based Rowe & Maw.
Update: One tipster speculates:

I have no idea, but it is of course intriguing. Maybe we’re going public. (That would apply only to the English LLP of course. I think that it may be possible in the future but hadn’t seen any change in the law that would allow it now.)

So maybe it’s a merger. Or possibly the “exciting” change is that they are not going to give bonuses any more.

That would be “exciting” news — to rival firms, looking to raid the ranks of Mayer Brown lawyers.
Further Update: We’ve learned that tonight is the holiday party for the New York office. And still no word about bonuses…

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