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

John Paul Stevens Justice John Paul Stevens Above the Law blog.jpgWhen it comes to law clerks, that is. In other words, Justice Stevens does not subscribe to the trend of hiring Supreme Court clerks who are several years out of law school, with a few years of practice under their belts.
As JPS explains in an interesting interview in The Third Branch, which a tipster just drew to our attention:

“Speaking about law students, I have a bias in choosing law clerks. I prefer those who are only a year or two out of law school, closer to their academic experience. They keep me more abreast of what’s current in the thinking of law professors, and I just like the younger perspective.”

So that’s the secret to Justice Stevens’s longevity: Hire young law clerks, and ask the healthiest ones to donate an organ to you (which they’re happy to do in exchange for a SCOTUS clerkship). Every few years, you end up with a completely new body. Brilliant!
The rest of the interview contains some interesting tidbits — including a comparison of Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts as chief justices. Check it out here.
P.S. We are still interested in learning more about the gender and ethnic breakdown for the incoming class of Supreme Court clerks — the October Term 2007 clerks. If you can help us out with any info, please click here for details. Thanks.
An Interview with Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens [The Third Branch]
Earlier: October Term 2007 Clerk Hiring: A Request for Information

paris hilton.jpgOr maybe 45 nights in prison, for the star of One Night in Paris. The Associated Press reports:

Paris Hilton should be jailed for 45 days for violating terms of her probation for an alcohol-related reckless driving conviction, city prosecutors say.

In documents filed April 30th in Superior Court, prosecutors said they also want Hilton to be required to stay away from alcohol for 90 days and wear a monitoring device that will chart whether she complies.

Keeping Paris away from booze for three months? Good luck with that.
Of course, expect the brilliant Hilton, if jailed, to turn lemons into lemon drops. Maybe the Simple Life: Behind Bars?
Prosecutors Want Paris Hilton in Jail [Associated Press]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGYesterday we floated this rumor:

“Skadden has raised its clerkship bonuses: $50,000 for one clerkship, $70,000 for two years. Applicable to all offices.”

We have not received official confirmation from the firm. But we have now received, via email, confirmation of this news from multiple sources. So we believe it’s safe to treat it as confirmed.
We have not received individual confirmations for ALL Skadden offices. But we have received them with respect to New York, Chicago, and Wilmington. We’d be surprised to hear, then, that this is not an across-the-board policy.
Now the latest rumors concern Davis Polk. If you can confirm, please email us (subject: “Clerkship Bonus”). Thanks.
Earlier: Clerkship Bonus Watch: Has Skadden Joined the $50K Club?

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld Deborah Jeane Palfrey DC Madam Above the Law blog.JPG

On its official website, Akin Gump proudly bills itself as a “full-service” law firm. And it boasts: “Our growth has come by understanding client problems and solving them with a unique combination of… practical… skills.”
Truer words were never spoken. From ABC News:

A legal secretary at one of Washington’s most prominent and well-connected law firms, Akin Gump Strauss Houer & Feld LLP, has been suspended after telling her bosses she secretly worked at night for the escort service run by the so-called D.C. Madam, Jeane Palfrey.

The woman both serviced clients and, at times, helped to run the business, Palfrey told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast on “20/20″ Friday.

The firm said it would not make her name public.

But do YOU know the name of this enterprising employee, or anything else about her? If so, we’d love to hear from you, by email (subject line: “DC Madam”).
A few more comments, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Akin Gump: Truly A ‘Full-Service’ Law Firm”

Some very interesting news, reported by Amir Efrati over at the WSJ Law Blog:

AutoAdmit xoxohth Anthony Ciolli Above the Law blog.JPGThe Law Blog has learned that law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge rescinded its job offer to Anthony Ciolli, the 3L at Penn Law who resigned as “Chief Education Director” of AutoAdmit last month. H[e] resigned in the wake of a WaPo exposé on how the site in part served as a platform for attacks and defamatory remarks about female law students, among others (see our earlier post here).

Charles DeWitt Charles E DeWitt Jr Above the Law blog.jpgCharles DeWitt (pictured, left), a managing partner at Edwards Angell’s Boston office, where Ciolli was slated to be a litigation associate, told the Law Blog: “He worked for us last summer. He’s not going to work for us in the fall.”

Ciolli took time from working on final exams to talk to the Law Blog. “Three years of legal education has been wasted because of an unmoderated message board,” he said, adding, “The timing is absolutely horrible.” The 23-year-old, who contributes to First Movers, a blog written by law students and graduates, added that “I don’t know what I’m going to do next.”

Anthony Ciolli Anthony Cioli AutoAdmit xoxohth Above the Law blog.jpgYou can read the whole post, which recounts the fascinating correspondence between DeWitt and Ciolli (pictured at right), over here.
Commentary from Professor Dave Hoffman, who has written extensively about AutoAdmit / Xoxohth in the past, appears at Concurring Opinions.
What do we think? Eh, we generally steer clear of this subject. What do YOU think?
(In this poll, which we admit is vaguely worded, you can substitute “fair” or “appropriate” in the place of “justified,” if you wish. We’re just trying to get a general sense of how many of you agree, and how many of you disagree, with what Edwards Angell did.)


Law Firm Rescinds Offer to Ex-AutoAdmit Executive [WSJ Law Blog]
Latest Xoxohth Fallout [Concurring Opinions]

Supreme Court 6 Above the Law blog.jpgWe recently posted about an amusing Craigslist “Missed Connections” ad (text here; no longer available on CL itself). It was posted by a lovelorn, 30-year-old male, with a crush on a female Supreme Court employee who shows up to oral argument in tails.
We wondered whether our poster might have a crush on Pamela Talkin, the Marshal of the Court. Although she may be a little old for the typical thirty-year-old, Talkin does wear tails to oral argument. And some guys have a real thing for older women.
In the comments to our post, however, several of you helpfully suggested that the woman in question might be Denise McNerney, the Merits Clerk, who “is often in the courtroom in tails.” Ms. McNerney was described as “very attractive,” “stunning,” “in her early 30s, nice, and drop-dead gorgeous.”
So what did we do? We contacted the original Craigslist poster, by email, and asked him for more details about his crush.
Our correspondence with him appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘The Supreme Court Clerk of My Heart’: Not Talkin’ About Pam Talkin”

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgOur bestest gal pal, Monica M. Goodling, is in the news once again. From the AP (via the Volokh Conspiracy):

The Justice Department is investigating whether its former White House liaison used political affiliation in deciding who to hire as entry-level prosecutors in U.S. attorneys’ offices around the country, The Associated Press has learned.

Doing so is a violation of federal law.

The inquiry involving Monica Goodling, the former counsel and White House liaison for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, raises new concerns that politics might have cast a shadow over the independence of trial prosecutors who enforce U.S. laws.

Justice spokesman Dean Boyd confirmed Wednesday that the department’s inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility were investigating Goodling’s role in hiring career attorneys — an unusual responsibility for her to take.

Goodling “may have taken prohibited considerations into account during such review,” Boyd told the AP. “Whether or not the allegation is true is currently the subject of the OIG/OPR investigation.”

Back when Monica Goodling first invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege, a wide range of commentators, from Joshua Micah Marshall to Orin Kerr, expressed skepticism towards her claim. Questions were raised as to whether Goodling had a valid basis for declining to testify.
Gentlemen, in light of the latest news, you should be ashamed of yourselves. We think you owe Ms. Goodling an apology.
Moral of the story: Never doubt the Magnificent Monica Goodling!!!
P.S. Our favorite comment over at the VC: “God told her to.”
DOJ probes politics’ role in hiring U.S. attorneys [Associated Press]
Ex-Aide to Gonzales Accused Of Bias [Washington Post]
Monica Goodling and AUSA Hiring [Volokh Conspiracy]

suit pants Judge Roy L Pearson Roy Pearson Above the Law blog.jpgJEEZ. What a tool.
An administrative law judge, Roy L. Pearson, is suing his dry cleaners. Over a missing pair of pants (subsequently found). For the insane sum of $65 million.
We kid you not. More details here.
Okay, we’re not completely shocked. Clownish antics from an ALJ? Heaven forfend.
No, we don’t have the highest opinion of administrative law “judges.” Roy Pearson should be flattered that news stories about his idiocy identify him as a “judge,” instead of a “petty and lame-ass federal bureaucrat.”
The defendant dry cleaners are represented by one Chris Manning. Is he Christopher C.S. Manning, of Manning & Sossamon, or Christopher N. Manning, the newly-minted Williams & Connolly partner? We’re guessing the former; but we’re hoping for the latter. We like the idea of the mighty Williams & Connolly steamrolling this prick pseudo-judicial moron.
More commentary from Overlawyered, here and here, and the WSJ Law Blog, here and here.
The second Overlawyered post provides a link to a reported opinion arising out of Roy Pearson’s divorce. The opinion reveals that Pearson and his ex-wife were having sexual relations very infrequently. Guess Pearson decided to go screw his dry cleaners instead.
And screw them he has. The Chungs have been so traumatized by the ordeal that they are thinking of closing their dry cleaning shop and moving back to Korea. Happy now, Your Honor?
Judge Sues Cleaner for $65M Over Pants [Associated Press]
Roy L. Pearson, Jr. [Office of Administrative Hearings]
The $65 million pants: Judge Roy Pearson [Overlawyered]
Judge Sues Dry Cleaners for $65 Million [WSJ Law Blog]

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGEarlier today, a source advised us as follows, by email:

“Skadden has raised its clerkship bonuses: $50,000 for one clerkship, $70,000 for two years. Applicable to all offices”

Excluding anonymous commenters, we’ve heard this news from just this one source (although a source who claims to have heard the news from multiple offerees). We don’t like to treat such rumors as confirmed until we have direct confirmation, by email, from multiple sources.
(Of course, a single source will suffice if that source is a firm website or a firm spokesperson.)
We’ve emailed Skadden for comment, but we haven’t heard back from them yet. We also don’t see clerkship bonus info on their homepage.
If you can confirm this news, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”). As always, we will keep you anonymous, unless you request otherwise. Thanks.

Don Imus Donald Imus nappy headed ho Above the Law blog.jpgThis appears to be the legal theory to be advanced by controversial former radio host Don Imus, through his “ferocious” litigator, the renowned Martin Garbus. Reports Fortune:

Imus has hired one of the nation’s premiere First Amendment attorneys, and the two sides are gearing up for a legal showdown that could turn on how language in his contract that encouraged the radio host to be irreverent and engage in character attacks is interpreted….

The language, according to this source, was part of a five-year contract that went into effect in 2006 and that paid Imus close to $10 million a year. It stipulates that Imus be given a warning before being fired for doing what he made a career out of – making off-color jokes. The source described it as a “dog-has-one-bite clause.” A lawsuit could be filed within a month, this person predicted.

We’re curious: What do ATL readers think about the Imus firing?


(The Pew Research Center also conducted a poll to gauge public attitudes towards Don Imus’s firing. It will be interesting to see how their poll results compare to the ATL poll results.)
Hoho Hostess Hohos Chocolate Cake Above the Law Blog.gifP.S. We love Wikipedia. Check out their entry for HoHos:

HoHos are cylindrical, frosted, cream-filled cakes that are made by the Hostess company and are distributed in the United States and Egypt. The Interstate Bakeries Corporation owns the Hostess company. HoHos are similar to Yodels, which are made by Drake’s (also a brand of Interstate Bakeries Corporation), and Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.

Imus won’t go quietly [Fortune]
Poll: Most Americans say Imus’ punishment appropriate [Associated Press]
Earlier: Don Imus Hires “Ferocious” Litigator

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