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

With apologies for the lack of details — if you have more to share, please email us — we’ve learned of some interesting news at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel:

Cahill Gordon Reindel LLP Above the Law blog.jpg1. The firm, which usually announces partnership decisions in January, just announced the promotion of four lawyers to the partnership.

2. All four are in the corporate department.

3. Two of the four new partners are seventh-years, which makes their promotions very early — a year and a half ahead of schedule. The firm historically has had an eight-year partnership track.

ATL congratulates this quartet of soon-to-be millionaires. A Cahill Gordon partnership is quite a nice prize. According to the recently released AmLaw 100 rankings, Cahill is the sixth most profitable law firm in the country, with profits per partner (PPP) of $2,575,000.
As noted above, if you have more info — e.g., the names of the new partners, why Cahill promoted them ahead of time, etc. — please email us (subject line: “Cahill Gordon”). Thanks!
Update: More information is available here.

Laurence Silberman Judge Laurence H Silberman Laurence Hirsch Silberman Above the Law blog.jpgThe D.C. Circuit’s administrative law-heavy docket can be a total snooze-fest less than thrilling. But at least that uber-prestigious court is stocked with some interesting personalities.
Like the prominent, conservative, and temperamental Judge Laurence H. Silberman. From a tipster:

How about giving a shout-out to the latest Silbermannerisms? Yesterday Judge Silberman served up these two gems in a completely run-of-the-mill case, Menkes v. DHS (PDF):

“In response, the government raises a number of threshold jurisdictional arguments. Frankly, we do not think them worth a tinker’s damn.”

“This argument [is] unworthy of the government.”

OUCH — but not out of character for Judge Silberman. More from our source:

[H]e’s badass. The all-time greatest Silbermannerism:

“If you were ten years younger, I’d punch you out!” [Silberman to Abner Mikva, in conference with Ken Starr, as recalled by Mikva -- New York Times, 9/1/1998]

Someday I’ll start a blog on the DC Circuit, and when I do I plan to make Silbermannerisms a regular feature. But in the meantime, I hope you put those quotes to good use! He’s surely the greatest Judicial Divo of all time.

Judge Silberman is certainly in the running for that title. But what about his liberal counterpart, Judge Harry T. Edwards? No shrinking violet, he.
Menkes v. DHS (PDF) [U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit]

marijuana pot cannabis doobie Above the Law blog.jpgJEEZ. This tax treatment is way harsh.
Perhaps those Tax Court judges need to chillax. With a joint or two.*
(And perhaps the losing litigants should have hired “L.A.’s dopest attorney,” Allison Margolin.)
* This suggestion is made in jest. ATL strenuously objects to illegal drug use. We also encourage you to donate blood and to support cancer research.
Have a great day!
Tax Court Denies Deduction for Cost of Medical Marijuana Given to Dying Patients [TaxProf Blog]
Californians Helping to Alleviate Medical Problems, Inc. v. Commissioner [Tax Court (PDF)]


Although there continues to be activity on the associate pay raise front, things seem to have quieted down in terms of clerkship bonuses. The most recent announcement was that of Patterson Belknap — from Monday morning.
Are there no new announcements out there? Or are we just not hearing about them?
If you have any information to share, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”). And feel free to discuss further in the comments. As always, thanks in advance for your tips.

Noel Hillman Noel L Hillman Noel Lawrence Hillman Noel Laurence Hillman judge Above the Law.jpgBack in December, we suggested that Judge Noel Hillman (D.N.J.) was probably going to be nominated to the Third Circuit. We wrote: “[N]ominating Judge Hillman to the court of appeals actually makes political sense for the White House — especially in its current, weakened state…. Picking a nominee who made it through the Senate just a few months ago would be a shrewd move. Since the two New Jersey senators supported Hillman for the district court, it would be awkward for them to oppose him for the circuit court now.”
But things appear to have changed. From the Newark Star-Ledger:

In an abrupt about-face, President Bush has decided against nominating Noel Hillman, a veteran prosecutor and now federal judge in Camden, to the seat on the 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that was held by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr….

Hillman confirmed the news. He said the speculation about his possible elevation to the court of appeals was “flattering,” adding he now has “every confidence that our president will choose someone for the current vacancy worthy of his trust, worthy of the position, and worthy of Senate confirmation.”

Some questions for our readers:

1. What’s behind the White House’s change of heart? Was it, as suggested by the Star-Ledger, concern “that Hillman’s Senate confirmation hearing could become an inquisition into the behind-the-scenes operations of the Justice Department”? Or is there something more here, perhaps specific to Judge Hillman?

(If the White House is worried about Hillman hearings turning into another fishing expedition into the DOJ, we can hardly blame them. After all, look at all the dirty laundry that got aired when former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified yesterday. What a mess!)

2. Now that Judge Hillman is out of the running, who is likely to get the nod?

Please send us your tips by email (subject line: “Third Circuit”). Thanks.
The Auditor [Newark Star-Ledger via NJ.com]
President Intervened in Dispute Over Eavesdropping [New York Times]
Earlier: A Third Circuit Update

Ropes Gray LLP Above the Law blog.jpgThat’s what we’re hearing in the comments. And by email, too:

Ropes in Boston has bumped to $160K for 1st years, $170K for 2nd years, $185 for 3rd years, etc.

Don’t know more, because they’ve told people not to send out the memo, but I suspect you can find out the rest :-)

According to this comment, the alleged Ropes raise also extends to the firm’s non-New York offices: Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.
Now, we don’t consider this confirmed. All we have our some anonymous comments, and an email from a source who isn’t at Ropes. We also don’ t have a memo.
If you have a copy of the alleged memo, please feel free to post it in the comments. That wouldn’t qualify as “send[ing] out” the memo, would it?
Update: The Ropes & Gray pay raise memo, which someone posted in the comments, has been authenticated for us by a source at the firm. So treat this news as confirmed.

State of Louisiana seal New Orleans Above the Law blog.jpgDisorder in the court, disorder in the court! From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

St. Tammany Parish deputies took two defense attorneys into custody on contempt of court accusations Monday after they got into a fight at the parish courthouse in Covington, Sheriff Jack Strain confirmed.

Michael Fawer of Covington and his brother-in-law, Joseph Bartels of New Orleans, tussled outside state Judge Raymond Childress’ third-floor courtroom at about 10:30 a.m. As a result, the judge ordered both men held, Strain said.

Fawer, 71, claimed Bartels made a profane reference to his religion, and Bartels, 56, claimed Fawer injured his neck.

And you thought you didn’t get along with your brother-in-law. Well, at least these guys are zealous advocates.
A little more about this incident, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyers of the Day: Michael Fawer and Joseph Bartels”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWe now bring you… a pair of non-announcement announcements on the associate pay raise front. They’re from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and DLA Piper.
As our tipster noted, Pillsbury Winthrop practically “threatens” its associates with a pay raise. Here’s an excerpt from their memo (emphasis added):

We want to take the time to thoughtfully consider your views and take into account your concerns, which we share, regarding the need to stay competitive, together with the implicit work-life balance impact of additional salary increases.

In other words: “Be careful what you wish for; you might just get it.”
The full text of the Pillsbury memo, plus a similar “hold your horses” memo from DLA Piper, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Pay Raise Watch: In a Holding Pattern?”

Alex Kozinski.jpgDespite his recent public criticism of blogs, we’ve always viewed that colorful legal genius, Judge Alex Kozinski, as a great friend of blogging.
Judge Kozinski’s nomination of himself as a “judicial hottie” played a crucial role in the development of our original blog, Underneath Their Robes. And he has been a supporter of our blogging over the years. Even his criticism of us has been constructive and well-intentioned (even if harsh).
But if Judge Kozinski has soured on blogging, perhaps it is showing through in his jurisprudence. Check out today’s decision by the Ninth Circuit in Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com (PDF).
We haven’t finished reading the opinions just yet. But based on Robert Loblaw’s this write-up, which provides a helpful summary and pellucid analysis, the decision doesn’t look like good news for bloggers — or any other websites that host user-generated content.
Sigh. This whole “blogging” thing ain’t as much fun as it used to be.
Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, LLC
[U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (PDF)]
Important Ninth Circuit Decision on Websites’ Legal Immunity under the CDA [Decision of the Day]
Earlier: Kozinski On Blogs: “Hateful Things”

Edward Tuddenham Sarah Cleveland townhouse townhome mansion Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve been so focused on nationwide associate pay raises that we’ve been neglecting New York City — where lawyers have always earned top dollar. And where they enjoy real estate spoils reflecting their high compensation, which we regularly profile for Lawyerly Lairs.
One of our favorite sources of real estate porn in the deliciously gossipy New York Observer. Here are a few recent “Manhattan Transfers” items, all of which involve lawyers:
1. Crusading Lawyer Inks Sweet $2.4 M. Deal for Harlem Townhouse

The Erin Brockovich of big-sugar class-action lawsuits has bought a stately 108-year-old townhouse on West 137th Street (at right), a leafy block near Harlem’s Strivers Row.

Lawyer Edward Tuddenham and his wife, Sarah Cleveland, a University of Texas law professor, paid $2.4 million for the five-level townhouse.

Moral of the story: If you’re a law professor with dreams of a million-dollar home, you need to marry well. Or be Feldsuk.
In addition to having a million-dollar home, Professor Cleveland is also highly attractive, a former Rhodes Scholar, and a former Supreme Court clerk (for Justice Blackmun). Could a life be any more charmed? (Although that Manhattan-Austin commute is probably a real pain…)
Update: Per this comment, and as confirmed by this press release, Professor Cleveland — who is “a fantastic teacher,” we’re told — has been snapped up by Columbia. Very nice.
2. Saint David’s Buys Headmaster Two Philip Johnson Condos for $2.99 M
The Saint David’s School, an all-boys prep school, just purchased two adjacent condos for a total of almost $3 million. These apartments will be the home of their headmaster. Who says schoolteachers can’t live well?
One of the principals in this deal is a lawyer: Willkie Farr & Gallagher partner Xavier Dieux is selling one of the two units. Presumably Mr. Dieux is trading up; he was probably living below his means in his condo at the Metropolitan.
3. Davis Polk Stays At Home
This item, reporting on Davis Polk & Wardwell’s 650,000-square-foot renewal at 450 Lexington Avenue, concerns commercial rather than residential real estate. So it may lie slightly beyond the jurisdiction of Lawyerly Lairs.
But it is interesting to see how Davis Polk is perceived by the outside world. The Observer refers to DPW as “cultivat[ing] its reputation as the Cravath, Swaine & Moore for happy people.”
Is that view of DPW accurate? Feel free to debate in the comments.

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