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

Jonas Blank Skadden Arps Above the Law blog.jpgRemember Jonas Blank? He was the fellow who, while working at Skadden Arps as a summer associate in 2003, sent out this infamous email:

“I’m busy doing jack shit. Went to a nice 2hr sushi lunch today at Sushi Zen. Nice place. Spent the rest of the day typing emails and bullshitting with people. Unfortunately, I actually have work to do — I’m on some corp finance deal, under the global head of corp finance, which means I should really peruse these materials and not be a fuckup…”

“So yeah, Corporate Love hasn’t worn off yet… But just give me time…”

Despite this problematic email — which he meant to send to one friend, but instead sent to the firm’s entire underwriting group, partners included — Blank went on to full-time employment at Skadden after graduating from Harvard Law.

After several (no doubt thrilling) years at Skadden, Blank — accurately described by the New Yorker as “handsome” (see photo) — is moving on.* As reported by the Skadden Insider blog, next month Blank will be starting work as an associate at Richards, Kibbe & Orbe. We wish him the best of luck.

P.S. If you haven’t done so already, check out Skadden Insider, which started up in January. Here is its mission statement:

Welcome to the Skadden Insider, a blog created to collect and pass along (and sometimes comment on) the gossip and news making its way through the halls of a certain law firm’s offices. Whether its New York, Boston, Washington DC or Palo Alto, Skadden Insider will be your place to read the latest.

May similar blogs sprout up for every large law firm in the land! Especially Sullivan & Cromwell.

* If it appears in the New Yorker, you KNOW it’s true, because their fact-checking process is second-to-none. For purposes of this Talk of the Town item, a New Yorker fact-checker asked us: “Is it fair to say that you have ‘a boyish face’?” So presumably some recent Ivy League grad with literary aspirations had to ask Jonas Blank: “Do you consider yourself to be handsome?”

Jonas Has Left the Building [Skadden Insider]
OOPS [New Yorker / Talk of the Town]
Jonas Blank [Friendster]

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgWe were planning to do a quick write-up on the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of Kyle Sampson. But many such write-ups have already been done. And the Sampson testimony, while it had its moments, wasn’t quite as exciting as we were hoping.
So forget about the decidedly unglamorous Kyle Sampson, accurately described by Emily Bazelon as “sweaty, nervous, and soft-spoken.” Let’s talk about a more exciting and dynamic personality, the real breakout star of U.S. Attorney-gate to date:

MONICA GOODLING!!!

Today brings two new, juicy profiles of Monica M. Goodling — one from the Washington Post, and one from the Harrisburg Patriot-News. They contain a lot of interesting material.
Discussion and links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Monica Goodling: Diva Is As Diva Does”

Solengo Capital Dealbreaker Above the Law blog.jpgOur big sibling, the Wall Street tabloid DealBreaker.com, obtained and posted a promotional brochure for Solengo Capital, the new hedge fund being launched by former traders at the ill-fated Amaranth Advisors. Amaranth, you may recall, accomplished the impressive feat of losing $6 billion in a single week, before breathing its last.
Apparently the Solengo Capital folks weren’t thrilled about the free publicity. After DealBreaker didn’t comply with its request to take down the brochure, Solengo had its lawyers at Kobra Kai Kobre & Kim send out a mean letter. And that’s where things currently stand (no summons and complaint just yet).
Update: It looks like that lawsuit is on its way.
Anyway, if you have some free legal advice thoughts to offer on this matter, we welcome them in the comments.
P.S. As for why Solengo is so hot ‘n bothered over all this, here’s one theory.
Solengo Capital coverage (scroll down) [DealBreaker]
Ex-Amaranth traders ask blogs to remove materials [Reuters]

Time for a few updates on a subject near and dear to our heart, which we’ve been neglecting as of late: federal judicial nominations. Here’s the latest news:
Jennifer Elrod Judge Jennifer W Elrod Above the Law blog.jpg1. Texas state court judge Jennifer Elrod (at right), whom we previously identified as a possible nominee to the Fifth Circuit (and compared to Jennifer Aniston), has been officially nominated to that court. We’ve heard good things about Judge Elrod and wish her the best of luck in the confirmation process.
2. Connecticut state court judge Vanessa Bryant, discussed previously here, has been confirmed to the District of Connecticut.
3. Earlier this month, the White House sent a raft of judicial nominations over to the Senate. Nothing terribly exciting.
The two most controversial nominees in the bunch: state court judge Janet Neff (D. Mich.), and trial lawyer Richard Honaker (D. Wyo.). They may generate opposition on opposite sides of the aisle. Neff got a lot of grief from the conservative Sen. Sam Brownback for having attended a lesbian commitment ceremony. Honaker may be targeted by liberals for his record of strong opposition to abortion.
Here’s a random bit of trivia about Honaker: he was a Harvard classmate of Al Franken. If Honaker runs into opposition from liberals (despite being a trial lawyer and card-carrying member of ATLA), will Franken testify in his defense before the Senate Judiciary Committee?
(The article also mentions Billy Crystal, but we don’t believe Billy Crystal went to Harvard.)
Update: HA! The Billy Crystal mystery is revealed. Check out this comment.
Nomination Sent to the Senate [WhiteHouse.gov]
Nominations Confirmed [Senate.gov via How Appealing]
Nominations Sent to the Senate [WhiteHouse.gov]
Harris County civil judge nominated to federal bench [Houston Chronicle]
Bush renominates five Michiganians to federal judgeships [Detroit News]
Thomas announces judgeship nomination for Rock Springs lawyer [Casper Star-Tribune via How Appealing]

Arthur Miller Professor Arthur R Miller Above the Law blog.jpgOh no he didn’t… Oh yes he did! Check out this account of yesterday’s Supreme Court argument, by the AP:

Longtime Harvard law professor Arthur Miller (at right)… was arguing on behalf of shareholders who want to sue companies for fraud. Miller is a frequent television commentator, prolific writer and possibly the inspiration for an abrasive professor in a popular account of life at Harvard.

Justice Antonin Scalia and Miller were contemporaries at Harvard Law School in the late 1950s. Miller graduated in 1958, two years ahead of Scalia.

Scalia clearly was on the side of the companies, chiming in from time to time to make Miller’s difficult task a bit harder.

After one remark, Miller let loose: “Is that because you never met a plaintiff you really liked?”

OUCH. And it must have been ten times better in person:

There was laughter and an “ooh” from spectators. Justices Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas laughed for several seconds, even after arguments resumed.

Miller, perhaps sensing he crossed a line, quickly added, “I took a liberty there with the justice.”

You sure did, Professor Miller — but it could have been worse. E.g.: “Yo mama is so stupid, she relies on legislative history!”
Scalia and Harvard Law Professor Trade Barbs in Court [AP via Law.com]

Jenkens Gilchrist Above the Law blog.jpgMaybe you’re grumpy because your firm hasn’t matched the latest associate pay raises. Maybe your clerkship bonus isn’t as big as the $50,000 now offered by Sullivan & Cromwell.
But at least you still have a job. From Bloomberg:

Jenkens & Gilchrist, a Dallas-based firm that once had 600 lawyers, is shutting down after reaching an accord with authorities to avoid prosecution for selling tax shelters that generated more than $1 billion in phony losses.

The firm admitted it developed and marketed fraudulent tax shelters and faces a $76 million fine, the Internal Revenue Service said.

The firm points a finger towards its Chicago office:

Jenkens & Gilchrist blamed its demise on unnamed lawyers in its Chicago office. That branch was closed on March 22.

“The Chicago tax shelter practice seriously undermined the firm’s long-standing reputation,” the firm said in a statement. “We deeply regret our involvement in this tax practice.”

This was probably ill-advised on the part of the firm:

Among the fraudulent shelters were transactions known as BOSS, BART and HOMER, prosecutors said in the agreement.

Guess those IRS types aren’t Simpsons fans.
Update: This Jenkens & Gilchrist promotional video is nothing short of mortifying.
Jenkens to Close After U.S. Agrees Not to Prosecute [Bloomberg]
U.S. Enters Non-Prosecution Pact With Jenkens & Gilchrist [WSJ Law Blog]

Stephen Kotran Stephen M Kotran Steven Kotran Steve Kotran Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law blog.jpgGandolfo DiBlasi Gandolfo V DiBlasi Vince DiBlasi Above the Law Blog.jpgIn a post from last week, we solicited your tips about two major players in the Charney v. S&C saga:

(1) litigation partner Gandolfo “Vince” DiBlasi, who allegedly intimidated Aaron Charney at a settlement meeting; and

(2) M&A partner Stephen Kotran, cited by Aaron Charney as an ally of his at the firm.

The post generated lots of comments, plus a few reader emails. We collect the highlights after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Brokeback Lawfirm: More on Vince DiBlasi and Steve Kotran”

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has just announced that the Republicans have objected, under Senate rules, to the Kyle Sampson hearings continuing any further.
The committee, which returned from lunch at around 1:45, now stands in recess. We’ll keep you posted.
Update (2:42 PM): And we’re back. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is questioning Kyle Sampson.

At this morning’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, one of the Democratic senators invoked the bugaboo of Karl Rove. In arguing that the U.S. Attorney firings HAD to be politically motivated, the senator cited the involvement of Rove, whom he referred to darkly as “the ultimate political insider.”
Demonizing Karl Rove is a favorite political pastime of the left. But is the man really that scary? Check out his performance at last night’s Radio and TV Correspondents’ dinner:

MC Rove [YouTube via Wonkette]

Week Opinion Awards 1.JPG
Sir Harold Evans reaches out to choke Claire Shipman, while Jim Lehrer giggles girlishly. Tucker Carlson and Tom Friedman are bored off their gourds.
Sometimes it feels like all we do is attend parties — it’s that time of year here in DC. On Tuesday night, we schlepped up to Georgetown for the annual Opinion Awards, sponsored by The Week magazine.
In case you’re not familiar with it, The Week describes itself — accurately, in our view — as “a spirited newsweekly that distills the best of news, opinion, and ideas from the U.S. and international media. It’s smart, incisive, wry.” It reminds us a lot of The Economist, in that after you finish reading it, you feel caught up with what’s going on in the world. But unlike The Economist, you can actually read it in one sitting.
(Okay, that’s it for the plug. But we felt that we owed them a plug, since dinner was delicious).
We saw our former co-blogger, Alex Pareene of Wonkette, at the dinner. His entertaining write-up of the evening appears here. A gallery of professional photographs, by the talented Liz Gorman, are available here.
And some decidedly non-professional photographs by us, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Week Opinion Awards: A Photo Essay”

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