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

Latham Watkins LLP Above the Law blog.JPGThe word on the street was that Latham & Watkins was planning to match the recent West Coast pay raise, but would take its sweet time to announce it.
Well, it appears that Latham has been shamed into giving into the “hysteria” surrounding associate comp. Earlier this afternoon, various commenters reported that the firm has raised associate salaries in its California, Chicago, New Jersey, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. offices.
We have now verified the fact of a Latham pay raise, as well as this memo, with multiple sources. So you can take the Latham pay raise to the bank.
We reprint the memo after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “West Coast Pay Raise Watch: Latham Succumbs to ‘Hysteria’”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGAs we reported on Friday, Morrison & Foerster recently announced a firm-wide increase in associate base salaries. But the MoFo raise came with a catch: a modification to the firm’s bonus structure (for associates outside New York).
Here’s the relevant language from the MoFo memo, which we recently got our grubby little hands on:

This increase in base compensation [for non-NYC offices] will, however, replace the contribution bonus that was otherwise payable for those who finished the year in good standing with 1950 billable/pro bono/firm legal service hours. For any associate otherwise eligible for that contribution bonus who ends the year making less than he or she would have under the former base compensation plus contribution bonus model, the firm will make up the shortfall in January of 2008. Additional details about the elimination of the 2007 contribution bonus will be posted on the Professional Development portal next week.

One source who sent this to us stated:

If you could use this memo to get your hands on other memos, particularly regarding what’s happening with bonuses, that would be quite helpful. I’m especially curious about Orrick’s alleged bonus structure, as reported in the comments section of your post, “West Coast Pay Raise Watch: MoFo sees Orrick’s San Francisco and Raises it a Sacramento.” Thanks.

So if you have a memo (or memos) explaining bonus structures at places like Orrick and O’Melveny, which recently raised associate salaries, please send ‘em our way. It would be helpful to compare how they stack up with Morrison & Foerster.
For those of you who are curious, the complete MoFo memo appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “West Coast Pay Raise Watch: Here’s the MoFo Memo”

golden retriever dog pet lawsuit estate litigation Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re not really big on pets. Taking care of them is a lot of work, and we can barely keep our houseplant alive. So stories like this one strike us as almost insane:

A man who had not written a will left a $2 million estate, but the most hotly contested item in court has been his golden retriever, Alex. The four-way dispute over the 13-year-old pet was so intense, an attorney was appointed to represent the dog’s interest.

A guardian ad litem causa canis, perhaps?

On Monday, the judge decided the man’s divorced parents should split custody, The Commercial Appeal reported.

“At first glance, the petition seems almost frivolous, but after speaking with all parties, it is evident that this is a highly emotional issue for all involved,” said Alex’s attorney, Paul Royal, in his report to the probate court.

You had it right the first time, Mr. Royal.
P.S. A former colleague who shares our aversion to pets once quipped, “There are at least ten good reasons not to get a dog. Reasons one through nine are fecal matter.”
Judge settles intense custody battle over dog [CNN]

Lady Justice breast bust bosom Monica Goodling Above the Law blog.jpgEven those of you who are sick and tired of our Monica Goodling coverage will enjoy this little tidbit. It has been mentioned by a few commenters, and we’ve also received a bunch of emails about it.
From the National Journal (via TPMmuckraker):

Psst! Sources tell us that none other than Monica Goodling, former aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was responsible for draping over the ample bosoms of the Art Deco statues in the Justice Department’s Great Hall during the reign of the prim John Ashcroft.

The coverings were removed, accompanied by a sigh from an appreciative public, in 2005…

Goodling and Lady Justice: The Original Cover-Up [TPMmuckraker]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWill Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher be the next West Coast law firm to announce a pay raise for its non-New York offices?
Perhaps. Yesterday we received this message from a tipster:

Word on the street is that GDC is having an office-wide meeting tomorrow at 4. No word either way as to what they’re going to do, though last time around it was merely to announce they were reviewing it and expected to stay in line with the market.

If you have any more information about what Gibson is planning, please email us. Of course, we’d also love to hear about this afternoon’s meeting once it’s done. Thanks.

Monica Goodling 6 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgYesterday we received some saddening and disturbing news. A reader emailed this article to us, with the tagline: “Not very diva-like.”
(It was also recently linked to by Wonkette, in a post entitled When Whores Collide.)

A former U.S. Justice Department official and central figure in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys tearfully told a colleague two months ago her government career probably was over as the matter was about to erupt into a political storm, according to closed-door congressional testimony.

Monica Goodling, at the time an aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, sobbed for 45 minutes in the office of career Justice Department official David Margolis on March 8 as she related her fears that she would have to quit, according to congressional aides briefed on Margolis’s private testimony to House and Senate investigators.

Big girls don’t cry; and neither do divas. Raging against the perfidy of one’s enemies is perfectly acceptable. But wet tears, to say nothing of 45 minutes of them, are a big no-no.
The news of Monica Goodling’s alleged crying fit is deeply troubling. There are some things we wish we had never learned. The possibility that Goodling is a sad, scared, ex-government employee, rather than a magnificent DOJ diva, ranks right up there with the true identity of Santa Claus.
It seems, by the way, that Goodling’s meeting with David Margolis was a veritable slumber party of emotional disclosure:

Margolis testified in private that he tried to console Goodling and listened to her discuss her personal life, a congressional aide said. He recalled telling a colleague that he was concerned about Goodling’s emotional state, the aide said.

Two cups of cocoa — stat.
But look, we’re not giving up on Monica Goodling just yet. As today’s Washington Post notes, now that the Justice Department has signed off on an immunity deal for her, “Goodling is likely to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee on a broad range of questions about the [controversial U.S. Attorney] firings that she helped coordinate.”
So we’ll wait and see how her testimony turns out. If Goodling dries her tears, cleans herself up, and acts like a fire-breathing dragon when she testifies before the House Judiciary Committee, she will be restored to a special place in our heart.
Goodling Shed Tears Before Revelations About Firings [Bloomberg via Dan Froomkin]
When Whores Collide [Wonkette]
Justice Dept. Allows Immunity Deal for Former Gonzales Aide’s Testimony [Washington Post]
Justice Department Clears Way for Goodling Testimony [Roll Call (subscription)]

syringe lethal injection death penalty Above the Law legal tabloid.jpgMaybe it’s time to change the formula. The inventor of the three-drug cocktail used by many states to carry out the death penalty now believes it’s due for an overhaul. As reported by CNN:

“[T]here are other agents that work much faster and much easier,” [Dr. Jay] Chapman said, specifically pointing out an anesthetic called Diprivan. “Absolutely [Diprivan] would be better [for an execution]. If you’re wanting to give someone something so there’s no sensation, no awareness of what’s going on, that’s the drug.”

Chapman notes that to administer the formula that he created, “you have to have some skills to do it. You have to have the ability to find a vein and mix the drugs, because [some of them] come as a powder.”

Chapman still stands by his formula as a sound — if not perfect — method of execution. “It works if it’s administered competently,” he said.

And prison officials are just paragons of competence. As we’ll surely hear from Paris Hilton later this year.
Lethal injection creator: Maybe it’s time to change formula [CNN]

Deborah Jeane Palfrey Debra Jean Palfrey DC Madam Above the Law blog.jpgApparently we weren’t the only ones who got blue balls from felt cheated by 20/20′s report last Friday on the alleged DC madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Professor Ann Althouse writes:

Were you, like me duped into watching “20/20″ last night to hear what names they’d name based on the big list forked over to them by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who’s accused of running a prostitution ring in Washington?

“Our decision at the end was not to name any names,” said Brian Ross, the news correspondent who presented the segment. Mr. Ross said that the network went with a “conservative approach,” and that “based on our reporting it turned out not to be as newsworthy as we thought in terms of the names.”

At least they’re being honest — it seems — in not pretending they’d belatedly discovered some ethical compunction about it.

Like Professor Althouse, we were also duped, seduced by ABC’s advertising promising a salacious broadcast. We rushed home from a party on Friday night so we wouldn’t miss the 20/20 special report, which we were expecting to be sensational. We were disappointed.
Sigh. Well, at least there was a shout-out to the Akin Gump escort:

Sometimes when Palfrey was unavailable [to answer the phones], a legal secretary at one of Washington’s top law firms, Akin Gump, would handle the calls as well as go out on calls herself.

Using her e-mail account at Akin Gump, the secretary told Palfrey why she wanted to be an escort: “A day a week would be fun and spa money.”

And from an ATL source, here’s more gossip about the Akin Gump Escort, a former secretary to powerhouse partner John Dowd, the criminal defense lawyer now representing Monica Goodling:

This secretary likes to shop at high-end stores. She also drives luxury vehicles.

An escort with a weakness for fashion and the finer things? Color us surprised.
This could, however, be advantageous for Monica Goodling. If we were John Dowd, we’d instruct the Akin Gump Escort to take Monica Goodling shopping for a new suit, before Goodling’s anticipated congressional testimony.
Brian Ross Reports on the D.C. Madam [ABC News / 20/20]
ABC fakes us out about naming names [Althouse]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGIf you’re a current clerk with an offer from Debevoise & Plimpton, good news. The firm has bumped up its clerkship bonus to $50,000 — which is fast becoming the new Biglaw standard.
There’s a small catch that may affect a few of you. Unlike some other firms, like Weil Gotshal and Cravath, the Debevoise bonus appears to be “flat.” It does not increase for multiple clerkships or years of clerking.
In case you’re curious, the Debevoise email appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Clerkship Bonus Watch: Debevoise Joins the $50K Club”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGNope, we haven’t heard about any more West Coast firms announcing associate pay raises. We have nothing to add to the recent announcements by Orrick, O’Melveny, and MoFo.
If you’re expecting Latham & Watkins to act soon, you will probably be disappointed. They weren’t too quick on the draw the last time around. And rumor has it that they’re taking their sweet time about a raise now, too.
From an anonymous commenter (caveat — not verified):

“Our managing partner here at LW in LA has quietly been spreading the word that we should expect the bump, and that we shouldn’t get worried if we don’t hear anything formal until the end of the month after the executive committee has its May meeting. Apparently they don’t want to contribute to the ‘hysteria’ (his words) by having an emergency meeting over this.”

Hysteria. We love it. Associate pay raises = Salem witch trials.
We saw Goody Orrick with the Devil! And Goody O’Melveny and Goody Morrison, too!
(Please treat this as a new open thread for salary discussion. Please note any breaking news in the comments — and send it to us by email, too. Thanks.)

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