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

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgWe are very, very excited. The magnificent Monica Goodling, the former Justice Department lawyer involved in the controverisal U.S. Attorney firings, may be coming to our living room!
Alas, Goodling won’t be visiting us in person (although we hereby issue her a standing invitation). But we’re hopeful that she’ll be appearing on our television, via C-SPAN, in the near future. From Fox News:

The House Judiciary Committee is set to vote on whether to grant Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ former counsel immunity from prosecution and force her to testify about the firings of eight federal prosecutors.

“I am hopeful we can approve immunity so that we can schedule her to testify as soon as possible and begin to clear up the many inconsistencies and gaps surrounding this matter,” Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., said in a statement Tuesday.

A two-thirds vote of the panel is required to approve the resolution, which would direct the House counsel to apply to U.S. District Court for a grant of immunity for Monica Goodling, Conyers’ statement said.

We urge the House Judiciary Committee to approve immunity, so Monica Goodling can be beamed into the homes of millions of Americans.
Meanwhile, in other Goodling-related news, one of you drew our attention to an interesting article about her alma mater, Regent University School of Law. It’s a bit dated, but there’s a hook: it’s by Charlie Savage, who just won a Pulitzer for his coverage of President Bush’s use of signing statements. Congratulations, Charlie!
It’s an excellent read. Here are the last two paragraphs:

One third-year [Regent law] student, Chamie Riley, said she rejected the idea that any government official who invokes her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination could be a good representative of Regent.

As Christians, she said, Regent students know “you should be morally upright. You should not be in a situation where you have to plead the Fifth.”

Bite your tongue, Chamie Riley! You are not fit to hold Monica Goodling’s red Solo cup.
House Panel to Vote on Immunity for Gonzales Aide, Monica Goodling [Fox News]
Scandal puts spotlight on Christian law school [Boston Globe]
Earlier: Prior (adoring) ATL coverage of Monica Goodling (scroll down)

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGThis is the rather belated update to our earlier report on the clerkship bonus policies of large law firms. We apologize for the delay, and we thank you for your patience and your tips.
A summary of our findings:

1. No large law firm has matched the new Sullivan & Cromwell clerkship bonus of $50,000 for one clerkship, at least as far as we’ve been able to confirm.

(a) But if you have two years of clerkship experience, think about Weil Gotshal. They would pay you a bonus of $70,000 ($35,000 x 2).

(b) In saying that no big firm has matched S&C, we aren’t counting Kellogg Huber, which pays a $100,000 clerkship bonus, and Susman Godfrey, which pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus, since they’re really boutiques.

(c) We aren’t counting intellectual property firms, some of whom pay $70,000 bonuses for Federal Circuit clerkships, because they are a world unto themselves.

2. Any firm worth its salt should offer a clerkship bonus of at least $35,000. This is what numerous big firms already do, and it should be considered the “market” rate. A bonus of anything less than $35K is chintzy and lame.

A firm-by-firm rundown, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: A Clerkship Bonus Special Report”

Virginia Tech shooting VT Above the Law blog.JPGWe’ve learned more about the tragic killings at Virginia Tech since our brief post from yesterday. We’re guessing you’re following the case as closely as we are. But in case you’re not, here are some new facts:
1. The final death toll — at the time of our last post, it was over 20 — is now 33 (including the shooter, who killed himself).
2. We now know the identity of the killer. “He is Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old resident alien of the United States, as first reported by ABC News.”
Feel free to discuss further in the comments.
Virginia Tech Killer Identified [ABC News]
Virginia Gunman Identified as a Student [New York Times]
D.C. Area Man Was Va. Tech Shooter [Washington Post]
Earlier: Breaking: Gunman Kills At Least 20 at Virginia Tech

Robert Liptak attorney lawyer crack addict Above the Law blog.jpgRobert Liptak is a lawyer in Livingston Parish, Louisiana. And he knows how to arrive at the courthouse in style. From WAFB 9NEWS:

Sheriff’s deputies tell WAFB 9NEWS Robert Liptak arrived for court on his motorcycle and fell off it. Deputies took him in to the courthouse, where they say he then passed out in front of the judge.

From there, deputies arrested Liptak. They tell us they found crack rocks and a crack pipe on him. Liptak is still in jail and has to go to rehab immediately when he gets out. He has chosen not to do that.

We’re shocked and disappointed. Liptak is placing the legal profession in disrepute. Couldn’t he at least have used powder cocaine?
(Crack is so low-rent — and subjects its users to dramatically higher penalties, too.)
P.S. Liptak looks more like a crystal meth addict to us. But we suppose that crack use doesn’t do wonders for one’s appearance either.
Livingston Parish Attorney Arrested after Showing Up for Court [WAFB]

marathon Above the Law blog.jpgThe news cycle yesterday was dominated in the morning by coverage of the northeastern storm. In the afternoon, and continuing into today, the tragic events at Virginia Tech took center stage. (We’ll soon be setting up a new thread to discuss the VT shootings, which are dominating the morning headlines

But there was some happier news also, including the running of the 111th Boston Marathon. From a tipster:

Dan McGrath is a 1L at Notre Dame, and he just finished the Boston Marathon in 2:25:59, placing 31st overall.

We’re impressed by Mr. McGrath’s ability to balance marathon training with the rigors of the first year of law school. We congratulate him, and all the other lawyer-runners who completed the Boston Marathon, on their achievement.

(Feel free to mention other attorneys who completed yesterday’s race in the comments. Thanks.)

Boston Marathon [official website]

sc1 Paul Caminiti Vivia Chen Daniel Alterman Dan Alterman Above the Law blog.JPG
Leaving New York Supreme Court after last week’s hearing in Aaron Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell: Paul Caminiti of Sard Verbinnen, a former lawyer turned public relations guru, retained by S&C for the Charney matter; Vivia Chen of The American Lawyer, as stylish as ever; and Dan Alterman of Alterman & Boop, counsel to Aaron Charney, rocking the whole “lovable schlub” look.
A few more photographs, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Brokeback Lawfirm: A Few More Photos”

Congratulations to the Columbia Law Revue crew for putting on a great show, which we attended on Thursday night. We were lukewarm about some of their prior efforts, but our opinion has changed entirely.
Check out this great clip, a parody of this SNL video, which is currently #61 on YouTube in today’s Top Favorites for Comedy:

Additional videos are available here. Enjoy!
P.S. Despite their video-making prowess, the CLSers are still a lost cause when it comes to the coolest law school competition. They’re getting a beating at the hands of UVA (which, to be fair, also makes excellent video parodies).
A Special Finals Care Package [YouTube]
Columbia Law Revue [official website]

We’re heading back to D.C. now. It seems that the spring northeaster has abated, so it’s time for us to make our move.
We’ve arranged for some content to be posted while we’re gone; but obviously it won’t be responsive to any breaking news developments. So if anything big happens while we’re gone, this is the space for discussing it.
P.S. For those of you who care (which we realize is not all of you), the delayed update to our earlier clerkship bonus post will appear tomorrow — we promise. If you have any last-minute additions, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”). Thanks for your patience.

Virginia Tech shooting VT Above the Law blog.JPGFrom the AP:

A gunman opened fire in a dorm and classroom at Virginia Tech on Monday, killing 21 people and wounding another 21 before he was killed, police said.

From the New York Times:

At least 20 people were killed today, some of them students, and more were injured during shootings at Virginian Tech University, some of them at a classroom on the campus, the police said. The gunman was also shot to death, officials said at a news conference, but details about the incident and about the identity of the gunman were still unfolding.

Developing…
Virginia Tech Shooting Kills at Least 20 [New York Times]
Gunman Kills 21 at Virginia Tech [Associated Press]

Rachel Brand Rachel L Brand Above the Law blog.jpgThe U.S. Attorney firing scandal rolls on. The WSJ Law Blog has a good linkwrap, highlighing the latest developments.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is frantically preparing for his make-or-break testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow. Remember the musical montage in Back to School, in which Rodney Dangerfield is shown cramming for his final exams — studying while eating, while on the treadmill, while getting a massage? We imagine Gonzales’s preparation for his SJC testimony has been a lot like that.
Anyway, here’s the development that excited us the most recently: how the fantabulous Rachel Brand — Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy, a rising star in conservative legal circles, and the reigning Prom Queen of the Federalist Society — narrowly escaped being dragged into this whole mess.
Recently released emails show that Brand was considered as a possible replacement for one of the ousted U.S. Attorneys. From the New York Times:

Rachel L. Brand, by her own admission, has never prosecuted so much as a traffic case. But in January 2006, when Justice Department officials began to discuss removing some United States attorneys, Ms. Brand was proposed as the top federal prosecutor in the Western District of Michigan, an e-mail message released on Friday shows.

In the end, Ms. Brand, who heads the Office of Legal Policy in the department, decided that she did not want the position and was not nominated to succeed Margaret M. Chiara, then the top prosecutor for the district. Ms. Chiara was later ousted.

In declining to be considered, Rachel Brand showed the excellent judgment that has taken her so far, so fast. Had Rachel Brand replaced Margaret Chiara, she would have been the victim of a mainstream media pile-on. The New York Times editorial board would have derided her as a Bush Administration political hack with no prosecutorial experience (albeit a hack with impeccable academic credentials, including Harvard Law School and a Supreme Court clerkship with Justice Kennedy — no Monica Goodling, she).
We’re glad to see that Rachel Brand has managed to steer clear of this whole mess, with her excellent reputation intact, and her dazzling career prospects undimmed by this controversy. Go Rachel!!!
Political Résumé, Not Court, Stood Out for a Contender [New York Times]
The U.S. Attorney Mess: A Monday Morning Roundup [WSJ Law Blog]

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