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

H Rodgin Cohen 2 Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGYesterday Aaron Charney, the former Sullivan & Cromwell associate now suing his former employer for sexual orientation discrimination and retaliation, filed an amended complaint against the firm. To download copies of Charney’s latest filings, follow these handy instructions.
Some background about the new complaint, from an article by Anthony Lin in this morning’s New York Law Journal:

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Bernard Fried dismissed Charney’s original pro se complaint without prejudice earlier this month, ruling that some of the ex-associate’s allegations and attachments were irrelevant and potentially violative of disciplinary rules. The judge gave Charney leave to replead his case.

Though Charney, now represented by four lawyers, excised the material cited by the judge, he added new allegations concerning events that took place after his initial complaint was filed, in particular a Jan. 31, 2007, settlement meeting.

Discussion continues after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Brokeback Lawfirm: Back in the Saddle”

WilmerHale Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale Dorr Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve confirmed with sources here in DC that WilmerHale has raised associate base salaries in its Washington office. Associates were notified individually earlier this afternoon. Accordingly, there was no memo. (But if we’re wrong about that, or if a memo later materializes, please send it along.)
Because associates received individual notification, we don’t have salary numbers for all classes. But the sources we’ve spoken with have provided us with figures for their class years that are consistent with the $160K scale. So it’s safe to assume that WilmerHale in Washington is now on par with the two D.C. firms that previously raised: Akin Gump and Hogan & Hartson.
WilmerHale’s move leaves Arnold & Porter and Covington & Burling as the most prominent members of the DC List of Shame. Feel free to add others in the comments.
We don’t have confirmation for raises at WilmerHale in Boston yet. But rumor has it that (1) WilmerHale has raised in Boston too, and (2) the pay raise is effective June 1.
Please send us any additional details by email. Thanks.

In his recent post summarizing three new cases the Supreme Court has agreed to hear, Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog mentions the docket numbers for two of them, as is his usual practice.
But he omits the docket number of one of the cases that was granted certiorari today:
Kentucky Davis Above the Law blog.JPG
Could someone be a little superstitious?
May 21 Orders [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
Court to hear three new cases [SCOTUSblog]
Supreme Court Grants Cert in Davis, Which Prohibits Tax Exemption for In-State Municipal Bond Interest [TaxProf Blog]
Court to Review Municipal Bond Case [Associated Press]


Clarence Thomas 2 Justice Clarence Thomas Above the Law blog.jpgIf you’ve done any significant amount of appellate work, surely you’ve argued before one of THOSE judges. A judge who asks questions at oral argument just for the sake of asking questions. A jurist in love with the sound of his or her own voice. They can be entertaining or exasperating, depending upon whether you’re in the gallery or at the podium.
But surely there must be a happy medium between showboat judges and Justice Clarence Thomas. From the AP:

Justice Clarence Thomas sat through 68 hours of oral arguments in the Supreme Court’s current term without uttering a word.

That’s saying something — or not — even for the taciturn justice.

In nearly 16 years on the Court, Thomas typically has asked questions a couple of times a term…. But the last time Thomas asked a question in court was Feb. 22, 2006, in a death penalty case out of South Carolina. A unanimous Court eventually broadened the ability of death penalty defendants to blame someone else for the crime.

Impressive. Is CT trying to set some sort of record?
A few more words — more than you’ll get out of Justice Thomas, at any rate — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice Thomas To Be Played By Holly Hunter in SCOTUS Motion Picture”

We’ve previously brought you a number of video clips from various law school parody shows. E.g, Columbia; NYU; UVA.
But what about “the world’s premier center for legal education and research”? What can we expect from the parody show of the legendary Harvard Law School?
Someone emailed us this clip:

Our source proudly touted this clip as follows: “Harvard Law School takes it up a notch!!!” We say: It depends on what the meaning of “it” is.
But regardless of our quibbles with the number as a whole, we have nothing but praise for the scene-stealing songstress who appears at around 2:45. If that “JD/MRS degree” doesn’t work out for her, she should look into “American Idol.”
(If you liked this video clip, you’re in luck — more clips are available here. Knock yourself out!)
Harvard Law School Parody Love It (Harvard) [YouTube]
TheBendAndSnap’s Videos [YouTube]

Ebony and Ivory Above the Law blog.jpgSeveral commenters drew our attention to the Supreme Court’s quasi-amusing decision today in Los Angeles County v. Rettele (PDF). We also received reader email about it:

“In the per curiam opinion in LA County v. Retelle (PDF), we get a nice discussion of racial harmony in the context of naked white people being awakened early in the morning by cops executing a search warrant on a house that was previously owned by black criminal suspects.”

From the Court’s unsigned opinion, joined by seven justices:

“Because respondents were of a different race than the suspects the deputies were seeking, the Court of Appeals held that ‘[a]fter taking one look at [respondents], the deputies should have realized that [respondents] were not the subjects of the search warrant and did not pose a threat to the deputies’ safety.’ We need not pause long in rejecting this unsound proposition.”

“When the deputies ordered respondents from their bed, they had no way of knowing whether the African-American suspects were elsewhere in the house. The presence of some Caucasians in the residence did not eliminate the possibility that the suspects lived there as well. As the deputies stated in their affidavits, it is not uncommon in our society for people of different races to live together. Just as people of different races live and work together, so too might they engage in joint criminal activity. The deputies, who were searching a house where they believed a suspect might be armed, possessed authority to secure the premises before deciding whether to continue with the search.”

The SCOTUS reverses the Ninth Circuit? Happens multiple times each Term. Boring.
The SCOTUS summarily reverses the Ninth Circuit, in a per curiam opinion? Happens a few times each Term. Uninteresting.
The Supreme Court benchslaps the Ninth Circuit, for not being politically correct enough? PRICELESS.
(For more substantive analysis of Rettele, check out this post, by Orin Kerr.)
Los Angeles County v. Rettele [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
Supreme Court Reverses Ninth Circuit in Out-of-Bed-Naked Search Warrant Case [Volokh Conspiracy via SCOTUSblog]

Twin Falls Idaho Above the Law blog.jpgReaders of ATL disagree vehemently over the existence of God. But if God does exist, he has a delightfully sick sense of humor. From ABC News:

Twin brothers Raymon and Richard Miller are the father and uncle to a 3-year-old little girl. The problem is, they don’t know which is which. Or who is who. The identical Missouri twins say they were unknowingly having sex with the same woman. And according to the woman’s testimony, she had sex with each man on the same day. Within hours of each other.

When the woman in question, Holly Marie Adams, got pregnant, she named Raymon the father, but he contested and demanded a paternity test, bringing his own brother Richard to court.

But a paternity test in this case could not help. The test showed that both brothers have over a 99.9 percent probability of being the daddy— and neither one wants to pay the child support. The result of the test has not only brought to light the limits of DNA evidence, it has also led to a three-year legal battle, a Miller family feud and a little girl who may never know who her real father is.

Très trashy — but there’s an actual legal issue here. How was it decided?
Find out, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Identical Twins in Paternity Fight”

Jack Weiss.jpgLate last month, we wrote about how Jack Weiss, a media and entertainment lawyer in Gibson Dunn’s New York office, was under consideration to head LSU Law School. Despite his dazzling resume, Weiss lacked faculty support — which Laurie Lin found surprising.
Now, a brief update. From the New Orleans Baton Rouge Advocate:

New Orleans native Jack Weiss will become chancellor of LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center this summer after his unanimous selection Friday by the LSU Board of Supervisors.

Weiss, a New York partner for the Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher firm, which has about 800 lawyers, will take over for retiring Chancellor John Costonis as early as July 1, but at least before fall classes resume, Weiss said by phone from New York.

Law school faculty members, rendered irrelevant and ignored. Who’d have thunk it?
P.S. Weiss, who clerked for Chief Justice Warren Burger and John Minor Wisdom, joins a sizable club of former Supreme Court clerks who now occupy leadership positions in academia. For other examples, see here.
Weiss to head law school [The Advocate]
From the High Court to the Ivory Tower [Empire Zone/New York Times]
Earlier: LSU: Practitioner Versus Professoriate

Will Work for Food Above the Law blog.jpgOver the next few weeks, hordes of summer associates will arrive at top law firms around the country. And many full-time associates — or at least the less harried and/or curmudgeonly ones — will rejoice, delighted by the opportunity to take summer associates out to fancy lunches, on their employer’s dime.
But maybe not at Pillsbury Winthrop. Earlier this month, someone posted as follows, over at Infirmation/Greedy NY:

If you think things are tight in NYC, listen to this: Pillsbury Winthrop (NoVa/DC) just sent out a memo limiting associates to one meal per week, “and in no event should meals cost more than $15/person.”

I s**t you not, they actually sent out that memo this afternoon!!!!!

We haven’t verified this rumor; maybe it’s apocryphal, or a joke. But if it’s true, please file it under “hilarious” and “pathetic.”
On a budget of $15 a head, you can maybe dine at Au Bon Pain or Cosi. Just don’t indulge in (1) a cold beverage with your meal, AND (2) a post-meal coffee drink.
If you can confirm, or have a copy of the memo to share, please email us (subject line: “Pillsbury Winthrop Is Cheap”). Thanks.
(We wouldn’t be completely surprised if this rumor is true. After all, Pillsbury Winthrop is one of the firms that is publicly dragging its feet on associate pay raises.)
Update: Lots of dispute in the comments over the accuracy of this rumor. We will gladly accept corrections and clarifications by email. Please provide us with your real name; we keep our sources anonymous, but we need real names so we can confirm that you actually work at Pillsbury.
One thing we can confirm, from a verified source in Pillsbury’s San Francisco office:

I am an associate at Pillsbury and just read the posting about Pillsbury lunch limitations to $15 once per week. It’s not true! Of course, we can take summer associates to lunch as often as we like, and they ask that we keep it to $25 per person, but can exceed that for special occassions.

But the rumor in question concerns Pillsbury’s offces in northern Virginia and Washington, DC — not San Francisco. If you work in one of those offices, we would be especially interested in hearing from you. Thanks.
Further Update: The consensus in the comments appears to be that the rumor of a $15 lunch limit IS true, but ONLY for northern Virginia (Tysons Corner).
Cheapest Lunch Date EVER? [Infirmation / Greedy NY]
Earlier: Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: In a Holding Pattern?

supreme court 3.JPGZzzzzzzzz…
Guess this is the calm before the storm. The Supreme Court cranks out lots of important-but-boring opinions in May, so it can clear the decks and focus on the 5-4, “It’s All About AMK” barnburners that it dumps on the nation in June. Nino starts saving up his energy for penning those trademark zingers of his.
The most interesting of today’s quintet of decisions would appear to be Bell Atlantic v. Twombly (05-1126). Per Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog:

“The Supreme Court, in the first of five final decisions, ruled on Monday that claims of parallel business conduct are not sufficient to prove an antitrust conspiracy under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.”

In other words: If you’re thinking of filing an antitrust lawsuit against Biglaw, ’cause large law firms engage in “parallel business contact” with respect to associate compensation — good luck with that.
(True confession: we doubt we’ll be reading these five slip opinions anytime soon. But if you happen to check them out, and come across anything amusing — funny footnotes, bitchy benchsaps — please feel free to let us know.)
Update: A post on Los Angeles County v. Rettele, which has its amusing aspects, appears here.
Court issues five rulings [SCOTUSblog]

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