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

Adriana Dominguez 2 Brooklyn Law School Playboy Above the Law blog.JPGFormer Justice Department official Monica Goodling isn’t the only appealing female who’s hiring lawyers these days. Yet another damsel in distress, who has also been in the headlines lately, has obtained legal representation for herself.
Remember Adriana Dominguez, the Brooklyn Law School student who made a nude video for Playboy TV? If you email Ms. Dominguez with an interview request, you receive this message:

I have no comment at this time. If you have any further questions, you can direct them to my attorney:

Brian Bloom
Cozen & O’Connor
(212) 509-9400
bbloom@cozen.com

Sincerely,
Adriana Dominguez

Why on earth has Adriana Dominguez hired a lawyer? We saw the video, and it was pretty trashy — but not criminal (although reasonable minds can differ).
Here’s the law firm bio of Dominguez’s attorney, Brian Bloom (Cornell 1999, Hofstra Law 2002):

Brian A. Bloom joined the New York Midtown office of Cozen O’Connor in March 2005 as an Associate in the General Litigation Department. He concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and intellectual property matters. Brian has represented various entertainers, musicians, and recording artists, including Eminem and (the Estate of) Tupac Shakur. Prior to joining the firm, he was a litigation associate at Fischbein Badillo Wagner Harding, LLP.

Tupac is probably turning over in his grave right now. Assuming he’s actually in it.
P.S. We’re guessing that Bloom and Dominguez are friends and that he picked up this matter as a favor to her (i.e., allowed her to refer to him as her attorney). But did he clear it with the powers-that-be at Cozen O’Connor, go through the requisite conflicts check, etc.?
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Adriana Dominguez (scroll down)

Blackberry Crackberry Blackberries baby Above the Law blog.JPGAre you a Biglaw associate who left the office early last night, relying upon your trusty Blackberry to keep you posted about what was going on back at work? If so, your reliance was misplaced. From the NYT:

Technical problems at Research in Motion cut off wireless e-mail service to millions of users of its BlackBerry hand-held devices in the United States for more than 10 hours overnight.

Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless, which has the largest BlackBerry customer base in the world, said the service was lost to all carriers in the United States around 8 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. RIM told AT&T Wireless that the problem that caused the shutdown was resolved by 6 a.m. Eastern time today. However, he said that the enormous backlog of e-mail messages that must now be processed would continue to delay or disrupt service for some users.

So if you were out to dinner with friends last night, with a non-buzzing Blackberry, and thought “this is too good to be true,” guess what? You were right.
Now get back to work…
Blackberry Blackout: A Personal Story [DealBreaker]
Service Problems for BlackBerry System [New York Times]
Massive System Failure Affects BlackBerry Users [WNBC]

If you ask former Supreme Court clerks to name the three or four smartest justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg routinely makes the list. Former SCOTUS clerks on both sides of the aisle praise Justice Ginsburg for her intellect. She’s also regularly mentioned as one of the most “self-sufficient” justices (i.e., a justice who could still do her job effectively with little or no law clerk help).
But Justice Ginsburg is not infallible. Here’s an interesting IM conversation we had with a source earlier today (with actual screen names replaced by pseudonyms). Our source, identified below as “tipster,” was reading Justice Ginsburg’s dissent in Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF).
tipster: Ooh. Ginsburg is not good at math – see n.10.
Gonzales Carhart Above the Law blog.JPG
ATL: Ha! 1/1 is a fraction…
tipster: “No, sweetie, if the numerator and the denominator are the same, that just equals 1. Now go back to Home Ec and stop trying to learn math.”
ATL: that’s funny — can I use that?
tipster: sure.
ATL: Per standard ATL policy, no attribution (unless you want it).
tipster: DON’T YOU DARE ATTRIBUTE.
ATL: Can I at least identify you as a liberal and an RBG fan when I make fun of her footnote 10? I don’t want to get attacked as a right-wing hack (since this is equal-opportunity snark).
tipster: Yes.
ATL: Thanks.
tipster: Not like anyone will believe you have liberal friends.
ATL: But I do! I have more liberal friends than conservative ones.
tipster: “some of my best friends are *shudder-gag-vomit* liberal”
(That last line by our tipster was sarcastic, for those of you who are sarcasm-impaired. Thank you.)
Earlier: Breaking: Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality of Partial Birth Abortion Act

Things are getting a little heavy around here, with heated discussion of this morning’s decision in Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF). So it’s time to mix up the programming a little.
Let’s turn our attention from stuff that matters a lot to stuff that matters, well, not terribly much. ATL’s March Madness competition — our quest to crown America’s coolest law school — will conclude tomorrow, Thursday, April 19, at 3 PM (Eastern time). So if you haven’t done so already, please cast your vote :


GOOD LUCK!!!
Earlier: ATL March Madness: The Championship Match

Pregnant Belly 2 Above the Law blog.JPGThis just in from One First Street. The Associated Press reports:

The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long- awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

The opponents of the act “have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision pitted the court’s conservatives against its liberals, with President Bush’s two appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, siding with the majority.

This ruling lends support to those who predict — like Jan Crawford Greenburg, in Supreme Conflict — that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito will move the Court significantly to the right in the years ahead. Before Justice Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a decision like this one would have required the conservatives to secure TWO swing votes, AMK and SOC, instead of just one. That frequently doomed the conservatives to defeat in the big-ticket cases.
So Justice Alito, appointed to the Court by President Bush, probably made all the difference here. As Senatrix Barbara Boxer recently observed: “Elections have consequences.”
Update: For more detailed commentary, check out Lyle Denniston’s SCOTUSblog post, which quotes extensively from Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent. To read the opinion itself, click here (PDF).
Court Backs Ban on Abortion Procedure [Associated Press]
Court upholds federal abortion ban [SCOTUSblog]
Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF) [SCOTUSblog]
Senator Boxer: Elections Have Consequences [YouTube]

Viewer discretion advised. This video clip is very elitist (or “tierist,” as some of you might say, referring to the U.S. News system of ranking law schools in tiers):

Bill Maher New Rule – From Elites to Jesus [YouTube]

Paul McNulty Paul J McNulty Above the Law blog.jpegWe had previously suggested that Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty — who by some accounts is the one who REALLY screwed up in the U.S. Attorneys firing fiasco — might be leaving the Justice Department. It looks like our prediction may come to pass.
Rule No. 1 inside the Beltway: “If they don’t deny it, then it’s true.” (Rule No. 2: “Even if they do deny it, it’s probably still true.”)
Applying Rule No. 1, Paul McNulty is leaving the DOJ. From the BLT:

Is Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty looking for a new job? Yes, said the Wall Street Journal yesterday, citing “people familiar” with his plans. McNulty himself was a bit more sanguine, telling the Journal he was “fully focused on doing my job and haven’t given much thought to what comes next.”

McNulty chose not to knock the story down today. During a brief interview with Legal Times following a speech to a legal panel about the Thompson Memo and corporate fraud, McNulty was asked if he was looking for a new job. McNulty responded, after a pause: “I can’t answer that.”

If you have any thoughts about who might be up for the thankless task of serving as DAG for the last 21 months of the Bush Administration, we welcome them in the comments. (We throw the considerable weight of Above the Law behind the Prom Queen.)
McNulty Can’t Say If He’s Staying [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
Gonzales Deputy, in Crossfire, Looks for Quiet Exit [Wall Street Journal]
Earlier: Paul McNulty: It’s All His Fault

musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFSome notable moves within the legal profession:
Government to Private Sector:
* Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, to LeBoeuf Lamb in DC. Last November, Steele lost his bid to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate.
* Michele Hirshman, who served as Eliot Spitzer’s top deputy at the Attorney General’s office before he became Governor, is joining Paul Weiss, as a litigation partner. Described by the New York Times as “very smart, very tough and rather short,” she sounds perfectly diva-licious.
Lateral Moves:
* Antitrust superstar Charles “Rick” Rule, to Cadwalader, from Fried Frank. This truly IS like musical chairs: Cadwalader, Rule’s new home, recently lost its antitrust group to Skadden.
* Celebrated criminal defense lawyer Abbe Lowell — who did an excellent job defending Hamlet against murder charges — is moving from Chadbourne & Parke to McDermott Will & Emery.
* Mark Holscher and Jeffrey Sinek are joining the Los Angeles office of Kirkland & Ellis. They’re coming from O’Melveny & Myers and Thelen Reid, respectively. From the Law Blog:

Holscher and Sinek are best friends. They were roommates when they served as federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. Holscher, 44, served as an assistant U.S. Attorney from 1989-1995; Sinek, 46, served from 1989 to 1994. Sinek was the best man at Holscher’s wedding; Holscher was a groomsman in Sinek’s. Both graduated from Boalt Hall law school. Holscher told the Law Blog they’ve always wanted to work together.

Alexandra Korry small Alexandra D Korry Above the Law blog.jpgSuch ambiguously gay commentary led an anonymous reader to quip: “Hope that Alexandra Korry doesn’t read about this…”
On The Move: Charles “Rick” Rule [Antitrust Review]
Kirkland Beefs Up West Coast White-Collar Practice [WSJ Law Blog]
Abbe Lowell to Join McDermott from Chadbourne [WSJ Law Blog]
Former Maryland Pol Michael Steele Joins LeBoeuf Lamb [WSJ Law Blog]
Spitzer’s Longtime No. 2 Michele Hirshman to Join Paul Weiss [WSJ Law Blog]

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”

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