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

laptop computer web surfer Above the Law.jpgYes, we have seen Georgetown Law Professor David Cole’s recent Washington Post op-ed, complaining about students using their laptops to surf the web during class. This led him to ban laptops from his classroom.
It’s provoked lively discussion in the blogosphere. See, e.g., PrawfsBlawg; Obscure Store; WSJ Law Blog. So we’re creating this post to facilitate some comments discussion here at ATL.
(But we weren’t terribly excited to see the piece. It’s actually very similar to a New York Times op-ed that our contracts professor, Ian Ayres, wrote back in 2002.)
Laptops vs. Learning [Washington Post]
Lectures vs. Laptops [New York Times]
Laptops and law-school learning [PrawfsBlawg]
Georgetown Law Prof David Cole: “No Laptops for You!” [WSJ Law Blog]
Law professor: Why I don’t allow laptops in class [Obscure Store]

Okay, we changed our mind. As some of you suggested, having disqualified NYU and the University of Michigan, we will stage a semifinal between the two schools they previously defeated: UT Austin and Columbia.
So here are the new “final four” match-ups (the new Texas-Columbia contest, and the existing UVA-Georgetown one):

We’re all in favor of school spirit. We encourage you to email the poll to others and encourage them to vote.
But please do not employ scripts, clickbots, or other non-human voting tools. Thank you.

Sigh. We’re sorry it had to turn out this way. But perhaps it’s oddly appropriate for a ridiculous poll to have a ridiculous ending
According to the folks at Vizu, and as noted by many commenters, both NYU and the University of Michigan were guilty of improprieties in their recent March Madness match-up. As a result, we are disqualifying NYU and Michigan from competition.
The two schools duking it out in the other semifinal, UVA and Georgetown, will BOTH advance to the finals. Here’s the tournament history:
law school 4a tournament brackets.GIF
Update: The commenters have convinced us. We’ve decided to let the schools that NYU and Michigan previously defeated, Columbia and Texas, face off in a semifinal. You can vote in that match over here.
Earlier: ATL March Madness: The NYU-Michigan Poll

Kiwi Camara KAD Camara Above the Law blog.jpgWe recently blogged about Kiwi Camara — the young, brilliant, controversial legal scholar — and his mysteriously disappeared job offer from George Mason University School of Law. Camara is a legal Doogie Howser who was 16 when he entered Harvard Law School. At HLS, he caused an uproar after dropping the N-bomb in a group outline. He has apologized repeatedly and profusely for that mistake; but it continues to dog him, years later.
The Washington Post originally broke the story about Camara’s GMU appointment falling through. But their story may have been erroneous, at least in one respect. The Post reported:

At George Mason’s law school, the faculty had authorized [Dean Daniel] Polsby to hire Camara as an assistant professor, but the dean wanted to first see what students, alumni and others thought. He scheduled a town hall meeting for last night, but the meeting was nixed after Camara’s application was withdrawn.

We contacted Camara for comment. He explained:

I was never instructed to withdraw my application, and I never did so. My candidacy was ended by George Mason…

Also, there was a week’s lapse between my job talk and when the faculty voted me an offer (to be precise, voted to authorize the dean to extend an offer). Surely they would have investigated before, rather than after, voting me an offer — and especially before going public and thereby triggering the recent media coverage.

Indeed. This is all very strange.
More discussion, including an interesting mini-scoop from Camara, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Kiwi Camara: We Are Still Confused”

As regular ATL readers know, around here we worship Monica M. Goodling, the former Justice Department lawyer who resigned last Friday. The DOJ won’t be the same without her.
We’d like to see how many of you share our opinion of Monica Goodling. Please take our poll:

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.JPGThe New York Law Journal recently published its “Book of Lists,” as an insert to a hard copy issue. We haven’t seen it ourselves, but a tipster highlighted some findings for us:

The ones that impressed me – considering the Aaron Charney litigation – were the surveys on most satisfied midlevel associates and most satisfied summer associates at large NY firms. As you can imagine, Sullivan & Cromwell did very poorly on these rankings.

For midlevel associates, they ranked No. 60, and had the largest number of respondents to the survey (88) of any firm on the list. For summer associates, they ranked No. 71, although several firms that ranked higher had a greater number of summer associates responding to the survey. On the pro bono services list, they ranked No. 45.

But they were No. 11 on size of NY office, and No. 14 on highest grossing.

You really should get a copy of this if you haven’t seen it – it would be grist for quite a bit of info on your blog.

We realize that rankings — e.g., the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings — can be pretty silly. But many people, ourselves included, still fixate on them. This isn’t exactly surprising. As Professor Miranda Fleischer recently observed, “we are all obsessed with measuring ourselves in some way, shape or form.”
(We haven’t located a copy of these rankings online — although, truth be told, we didn’t look very hard. If you locate them online, please let us know.)

It seems that LLM students are an endless source of stories — and not just those continually squabbling Harvard LLMs. In advance of our upcoming visit to Columbia Law School, here’s an amusing little anecdote about LLMs at CLS:

John Coffee John C Coffee Above the Law blog.JPGI was amused to learn last semester that Columbia Law Professor John Coffee is a rock-star to LLMs. Last fall Coffee held a review session before his Securities Law final. The review session was your basic, bland review of the material covered. The session ended and the class did the customary applause. I stood up to leave, when I saw a few “LLM gunners” approach Professor Coffee. I assumed they were just going to ask him questions, but then I saw him pull out a pen and began signing their casebooks.

I practically fell to the floor laughing. I know Coffee is a Corporate God, but come on. Do you really get your Con Law book signed by Larry Tribe or your Admin book signed by Tom Merrill? Besides, how could you worship someone that turned to teaching only after he failed in becoming a partner at Cravath?

[Ed. note: That last sentence is merely the speculative opinion of our tipster. Another CLS source tells us, "There are some who claim that, but I don't believe there is any real basis for it."]

Coffee is an extremely colorful professor. You really should do a small piece on him and you’ll get some interesting stories.

If you have anything funny or interesting to share about Professor Coffee, please feel free to email us (subject line: “John Coffee”). Thanks.

For those of you who are wondering what happened to the NYU-University of Michigan match-up, which appears to have vanished (“undefined”), here’s the explanation:

From: Nick Rau
Sent: Monday, April 09, 2007 1:29 AM
To: David Lat
Cc: Dan Beltramo; Andrew Touchstone
Subject: Law School Poll: NYU vs U of Michigan

Hello there, my name is Nick Rau and I’m the CTO of Vizu Corporation. We’re contacting you because one of your law school contest polls was the subject of a number of gaming attempts today. At least 4 different automated scripts were being run to try to influence vote totals beginning earlier today.

The scripts were starting to cause severe performance problems for the Vizu.com site. We attempted to block by IP the attempts but whoever was behind one or more of the scripts kept moving to new machines. We finally were forced to delete the poll to end the problem completely.

You can read about some of this activity and the involvement of some of the voters on the following blog post:


We apologize that this measure was necessary but we had no alternative. Your Vizu Answers Poll Zone was never affected by any of this and continues to function normally, generating revenue. We are currently working on stronger authentication protections for our Web Poll widget and should have those in place shortly to prevent this kind of problem from happening in the future.

If you have any questions, please let us know.


Nick Rau

Jeez, people. We’re very disappointed in you. This is a sad commentary on ethics within the legal profession — as well as the coolness of law students and/or lawyers. Don’t you people have anything better to do than cheat in a silly online poll?
We’ve asked for more details about the cheating from the Vizu folks (and we may disqualify one or both schools depending upon what we learn). We will keep you posted.
Earlier: ATL March Madness: The Final Four

Rachel Paulose Rachel K Paulose Rachel Kunjummen Paulose Above the Law blog.jpgAs we noticed from your comments on our Monica Goodling “in memoriam” post, you know all about Rachel Paulose, the divalicious U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota. Paulose, who is reportedly “best buds” with Goodling, is another young, conservative, high-powered Justice Department lawyer, who now finds herself surrounded by controversy.
Last month, there was a mini-controversy over the extravagance of Paulose’s investiture as U.S. Attorney. That fabulous event, described by some as “a coronation,” featured a Marine Corps color guard and a performance by a municipal choir. But as today’s New York Times notes, “the complaints about Ms. Paulose’s investiture seem mild in comparison with the uproar ignited on Thursday.”
So what happened on Thursday? Here’s a concise summary:

It’s a major shakeup at the offices of new U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose. Four of her top staff voluntarily demoted themselves Thursday, fed up with Paulose, who, after just months on the job, has earned a reputation for quoting Bible verses and dressing down underlings.

Oh my goodness. Absolutely diva-licious!

Deputy U.S. Attorney John Marti is just one of the people dropping themselves in rank to simply [an assistant] U.S. Attorney position. Also making the move are the heads of Paulose’s criminal and civil divisions and the top administrative officer. The move is intended to send a message to Washington – that 33-year-old Paulose is in over her head.

Did Main Justice get the message? Maybe. According to today’s Washington Post, “The department was so alarmed that it sent a Washington-based Justice official to Minneapolis this week to try to talk the three out of their plans, officials said.” But the effort was unsuccessful:

John Kelly, deputy director of the Justice Department’s executive office of U.S Attorneys, visited Minneapolis on Thursday to try to resolve the situation…. The prosecutors stepped down after Kelly’s visit.

It was coordinated action by the “demotees,” according to TPM:

A source said managers had been unhappy with Paulose and decided to collectively resign. “They did it jointly because they couldn’t stand her anymore,” the source said, citing what been described as her “dictatorial management style and general lack of management experience.”

What do we think of all this? As one of you suggested, we actually overlapped in law school with Paulose, who was two years ahead of us. We were friendly with her. And we have some interesting tidbits to share about this magnificent diva, based on our interactions with her. (We may even reprint a juicy email exchange we had with her, some time ago, which contains hints of her future divahood.)
But that will have to wait until after the holiday weekend. In the meantime, check out the cornucopia of links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “DOJ Diva Alert! Meet U.S. Attorney Rachel K. Paulose”

Monica Goodling 5a Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGIt’s Good Friday — the Friday before a big holiday weekend. And we all know what that means: a high-profile resignation, timed in an attempt to avoid the news cycle.
Today we bid a fond farewell to the fabulous Monica M. Goodling. As de to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Monica Goodling helped coordinate the controversial firings of eight United States attorneys. When called upon to testify about the matter before Congress, she invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Oh, Monica — you will be missed. Long after you disappear from the newspaper headlines, you will live on in our hearts. We will always carry a torch for you.
Like so many great blonde icons — Marilyn Monroe, Lady Diana Spencer, Anna Nicole Smith — you left us before your time. So it is fitting and proper that we quote from these lyrics, as we mark your passing from the halls of justice:

Marilyn Monroe Norma Jean Above the Law Blog.jpgAnd it seems to me, you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did

Eternal rest grant unto the Justice Department career of Monica Goodling, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon it. May it rest in peace. May her DOJ career, and the careers of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.
Gonzales Aide Goodling Resigns [Associated Press]
Top Gonzales Aide Monica Goodling Resigns [Washington Post]
Gonzales Aide Who Refused to Testify Resigns [New York Times]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Monica Goodling (scroll down)

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