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

51st and Broadway Above the Law blog.JPGDo you work for a law firm in Midtown Manhattan? If so, feel free to drop in and say hello to your undersigned writer.
Last night we drove up from our regular base of operations, Washington, DC, to the Big Apple. Right now we’re hanging out, and working from, the Starbucks on the northeast corner of 51st and Broadway.
If you have some gossip you’d like to share — stuff that’s too juicy to send us by email — please swing by. Or just come by and say hi. (And do leave us with one of your business cards, so we can add you to the list of tipsters we use to verify information about specific firms.)
Hope to see some of you later today, when you’re on a lunch or coffee break. Thanks!
(After the jump: A random photo we took this morning, while walking through Rockefeller Center, of Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, of the Today show, with Antonio Banderas.)

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What more could you ask for in a law firm? As reported by several commenters, and confirmed by the Legal Times, Akin Gump has raised starting salaries in its Washington and California offices to $160,000 (with corresponding increases up the seniority ladder).
Cynics might wonder: Is this an attempt to distract attention from the scandal of the Akin Gump Escort? Akin Gump associates might respond: Who cares? Some people subscribe to the “mo money mo problems” school of thought. But to most Biglaw associates, “mo money is mo money.”
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld LLP Akin Gump escort Above the Law blog.jpg
We realize, of course, that the real reason behind the Akin Gump raise is Hogan & Hartson’s earlier move to $160K. We just enjoy working references to the Akin Gump Escort into as many stories as possible, no matter how gratuitous.
Even if the Akin Gump Escort Affair (hehe) played a supporting role in the timing of this raise, there would be no shame in that. Increases in associate compensation sometimes have their roots in scandal. Fallout from the Aaron Charney lawsuit, for example, may have led Sullivan & Cromwell to raise its clerkship bonus to $50,000, in anticipation of a tough fall recruiting season. That increase, of course, gave rise to clerkship bonus mania across the country, in which firms untainted by scandal ponied up more dough for law clerks.
For those of you who are curious, the Akin Gump memo appears after the jump.
P.S. Apologies for the delay in posting this news. We’ve been on the road for most of the evening.
Akin Jumps on the $160K Bandwagon [The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]

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Stroock Stroock Lavan LLP Above the Law blog.JPGThat’s what some of you were wondering with respect to Maury B. Saiger, the associate at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in New York, who sent out a now infamous email yesterday. After we posted his email, his bio disappeared from the Stroock website. Had he been fired?
No. Maury Saiger’s bio is back online. Our sources at Stroock tell us that they are not aware of any adverse employment action being taken with respect to Mr. Saiger.
But we do hear that the firm’s Executive Committee threw a s**t fit yesterday, after we posted Saiger’s email. There were some very unhappy campers at Stroock yesterday.
More about the fallout from this episode appears after the jump.

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White Case LLP Above the law blog.jpgToday seems to be White & Case day here at ATL. This morning we wrote about Emily Pataki, a supervised legal intern an associate at White & Case, acing the New York bar exam. And now we have some W&C news on the clerkship bonus front.
In an earlier comment thread, there was debate over the size of White & Case’s clerkship bonus. Was it $15,000? Or $35,000?
That debate is now moot. We just received word from official sources at the firm:

White & Case — Judicial Clerkship Bonuses Update

DC, Los Angeles, Palo Alto and New York at $50,000

Miami at $35,000

For Biglaw-bound law clerks, this is very good news. As various commenters noted here, White & Case falls just outside the Vault Top 20 (and below most other members of the $50K Club on that list). But now that White & Case has raised, we expect many more firms — and pretty much everyone in the top 20 — to step up to the plate.
Three cheers for White & Case!

Alberto Gonzales 4 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.gifWe’ve been doing a lot of Biglaw coverage lately. But since Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is being raked over the coals as we type, in an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, let’s take a timely detour into the U.S. Department of Justice.
The DOJ isn’t looking terribly competent right now. And this latest story won’t burnish their reputation. From a tipster:

As you know, the Justice Department produced a number of documents to Congress, concerning the controversial U.S. Attorney firings. These document productions have not been huge — maybe just a few thousand pages. Nothing like what you see in major commercial litigation.

One such document production showed up on Capitol Hill, in four sets: two sets for the Senate Judiciary Committee (Democrats and Republicans), and two sets for the House Judiciary Committee (Democrats and Republicans). The production arrived on a weekday evening.

A Republican staffer immediately started looking through the production. The staffer noticed that the produced documents didn’t have Bates stamps on them. Oops. Guess the DOJ forgot to have them stamped — a screw-up, although not a cardinal sin.

A few pages later, the staffer noticed something else, on a document with redactions on it. There was redacting tape that was STILL ON THE DOCUMENT. One could access the redacted, privileged material simply by peeling off the tape.

Holy crap. Instead of sending over Bates-stamped photocopies, the DOJ had produced its ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS to the Congress.

Nice. Apparently the Justice Department is less competent than a second-year litigation associate: they can’t do a proper document production.
It gets worse. More after the jump.

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Emily Pataki Emily Pataki Emily Pataki Above the Law Legal Blog.JPGWe realize we’re rather late in writing about this. But considering our extensive coverage of her past exploits, we really must share this information with you, however tardy.
Here’s the big news:


Guess the second time’s a charm. Congratulations, Emily!
P.S. If you’re wondering why we’re bothering to write about this event, please read this post. Or click here, and scroll down through our Emily Pataki archives.
P.P.S. Some words of advice to first-year associates not-yet-admitted legal interns working at large law firms (e.g., White & Case, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan): If you’re ever seized by the desire to send a firm-wide email, JUST SAY NO. Otherwise you’ll regret it in the morning. We promise.
But if you decide to go ahead with that blast email to hundreds of your beloved colleagues, please cc your friends at ATL. We love nothing better than to receive (and post) career-destroying, or at least highly embarrassing, office-wide emails. Thank you.
Former Gov. Pataki’s eldest daughter passes bar exam [Associated Press]
Passing Candidates from February 2007 (O-R) [New York State Board of Bar Examiners]
Earlier: Political Kids and the Bar Exam: What Gives?
Additional ATL coverage of Emily Pataki (scroll down)

Winston Strawn LLP logo Above the Law blog.JPGWe have confirmed the rumor that Winston & Strawn has raised associate base salaries in its California offices. A tipster forwarded us the memo, with this comment:

Got this from a friend of mine. I used to work there though no longer do. As he said, “I”m shocked — this goes against every other encounter I’ve ever had at Winston.”

Though it appears to only apply to their California offices (Los Angeles and San Francisco). No word on DC or Chicago.

Keep up the good work.

The full Winston & Strawn memo appears after the jump.

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Cravath Swaine Moore LLP Above the Law blog.JPGIn yesterday’s post about Cravath, Swaine & Moore starting up a bankruptcy department, to be launched by lateral hire Richard Levin (from Skadden), we wrote:

Cravath isn’t big on lateral hiring. When they hired tax lawyer Andrew Needham away from Willkie Farr & Gallagher in 2005, he was their first lateral partner in more than six decades (per Wikipedia).

Nor has Cravath been into bankruptcy work. Even though many other white-shoe firms have entered that historically “icky” practice area, CSM has stayed on the sidelines.

The statement that Cravath has avoided bankruptcy work was in error. From a knowledgeable tipster:

I want to correct your assertion that Cravath has traditionally stayed away from bankruptcy. Cravath historically has been very involved with bankruptcy and insolvency — Paul Cravath himself was the leading railroad insolvency lawyer of his generation, helping JPMorgan and the like swindle railroad bondholders out of billions.

For the bankruptcy geeks among you, our source schools us further, after the jump.

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DealBreaker DB Dead Horse Media Above the Law blog.jpgLaw-related stories are proliferating over at our big sibling site, DealBreaker. Here are three from yesterday afternoon alone:
1. Goldman Sachs Acquitted of All Charges. It’s good to be Goldman:

“In an effort to uphold the rule that the Masters of the Universe can pretty much get away with anything simply because they’re the Masters of the Universe (see, also: Jobs, backdating), a federal judge has ruled that Goldman cannot be included in a lawsuit by Fannie Mae shareholders.”

2. Dow Jones Insider Trading Watch: Two Charges, Dow Jones Director Scutinized. Hmm, this sounds a wee bit fishy to us:

“[T]he SEC filed a lawsuit against a Hong Kong couple, Kan King Wong and Charlotte Ka On Wong Leung, accusing them of insider trading. The couple had purchased $15 million of Dow Jones shares prior to the May 1st announcement.”

They liquidated the position after News Corp.’s unsolicited offer to boy Dow Jones, for a tidy profit of $8.2 million. More details here.
3. In the Future of a Defamation Lawsuit, Dimon Is the Law. Here’s a teaser, concerning the lawsuits that are flying between Dow Chemical and a former executive and board member: “It’s the legal equivalent of a John Woo action scene.”
You can check out the full post here.

Stroock Stroock Lavan LLP Above the Law blog.JPGApparently something weird is going on over in the New York office of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. Something really weird.
A source at another firm advised us:

Something has happened at Stroock. Rumors floating around that an associate flipped his s**t and emailed all personnel with something odd. I can’t find out more than that.

Use your powers. Find the answer.

After invoking said “powers,” we learned a bit more — and got our filthy paws on the email.
Check it out, after the jump.

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