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

small 100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGFrom ATL reader Darrin Brown:

As always, your breaking comp announcements are always appreciated. In response to these recent developments, I whipped up a couple of “lolcats” style graphics in my office this morning. Please feel free to use or enjoy as you see fit.

No animals were harmed, and no clients were billed, during the making of these graphics. Enjoy!
(Our default rule at ATL is anonymity for tipsters. We asked Mr. Brown if we could credit him by name for these pics, and he agreed.)
Can I Have Pay Raise.jpg

Can I Have Pay Raise 2.jpg
Lolcat [Wikipedia]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of associate pay raises (scroll down)

Akin Gump 2 Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld Deborah Jeane Palfrey DC Madam Above the Law blog.JPGHere are two quick updates to our earlier coverage of Akin Gump, the prestigious D.C. law firm, where an assistant to alleged D.C. madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey worked as a legal secretary. The second of these updates is nothing short of mind-blowing.
1. As a commenter pointed out, Tom Goldstein, the head of Akin Gump’s Supreme Court practice, just posted an “opening” for a “special assistant.” This led some to wonder: Could the madam-in-training have worked for the Supreme Court superstar?
It wouldn’t be THAT suprising. The job announcement (PDF) mentions that an appreciation for poker is helpful. And we’re guessing that the secretary-cum-escort has some familiarity with that game — or a certain variant thereof.
Sadly, however, it turns out that there is no relation between these two events. According to a source at the firm, “this opening is completely unrelated to that situation..”
2. We believe our source. We’ve learned that the Akin Gump temptress worked for someone even more senior at the firm — and even more powerful.
We have confirmed, with knowledgeable sources, what was previously rumored in reader comments. The Akin Gump Escort worked for John M. Dowd, the high-powered head of the firm’s criminal litigation group. From his firm bio:

John M Dowd John Dowd Akin Gump Above the Law blog.jpgMr. Dowd has prosecuted and defended significant criminal matters at trial and in parallel proceedings before Congress and regulatory agencies for more than 30 years. His practice focuses on the trial of complex civil and criminal cases.

Mr. Dowd is noted for his representation of a U.S. district judge, a former U.S. attorney and two U.S. senators. In addition, he represented a U.S. governor in a lengthy, high-profile criminal trial involving 23 counts charging false statements, wire fraud and attempted extortion.

Monica Goodling headshot Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGA judge, a U.S. attorney, some senators? YAWN. John Dowd currently represents one of Above the Law’s favorite celebrities: MONICA GOODLING!!!
Does this mean that telephone and/or face-to-face conversations took place between (1) the Magnificent Monica Goodling, of U.S. Attorneygate fame, and (2) the Akin Gump Escort? Presumably Monica Goodling had to interact with the Akin Gump Escort, whenever she called John Dowd on the phone, or came to his office for a meeting.
Please excuse us for a moment. Our head is about to explode, due to fabulosity overload!!!
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “OMG: The Akin Gump Escort Worked For… Monica Goodling’s Lawyer!!!”

A draft copy of Don Imus’s complaint indicates that the fired radio show host will be suing CBS, his former employer, for $120 million. Details here.
That’s a hefty chunk of change. It’s three times the total value of his $40 million contract.
But look at it another way. A hundred and twenty mil is still less than the cost of two pairs of pants. If you’re an exalted Administrative Law Judge, for the District of Columbia.
Exclusive: Imus Says CBS got what it bargained for [ABC News]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Don Imus (scroll down)

Monica Goodling 6 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgFormer Justice Department lawyer Monica Goodling has gotten a raw deal.
From the media. From the blogosphere. And now, from the DOJ itself. According to the Washington Post’s Andrew Cohen:

[B]ack at the ranch, the Justice Department managed to tick off former high-ranking official Monica Goodling and her attorneys by going public with allegations against her (allegations that she broke the law by giving out jobs based upon political affiliation) before notifying Team Goodling about the matter as a professional courtesy.

Given how vital Goodling’s testimony will be — she’s been given use immunity and will almost certainly testify before Congress about her role in the U.S. Attorney scandal — the Justice Department’s faux pas is as inexecusable as it is unsurprising. The Department is merely now doing to Goodling what Goodling and Company did to the fired prosecutors (and, for that matter, what the White House did to George Tenet when it was through with him).

We’re glad to see that someone else — namely, Andrew Cohen — realizes that Goodling is being dealt with unfairly. And we will not rest until the Magnificent Monica Goodling stands vindicated in the court of public opinion.
How An Attorney General Should Act (and Monica’s Mad) [Bench Conference / Washington Post]

Akin Gump 2 Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld Deborah Jeane Palfrey DC Madam Above the Law blog.JPGIn our recent post about an alleged D.C.-madam-in-training — a legal secretary at the powerhouse firm of Akin Gump, who allegedly serviced clients and worked the phones for Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the alleged D.C. madam — we asked you for more information about this hardworking and multitalented young woman.
We are still accepting your tips. We’ll kick things off with this info, from a source who knows the alleged junior madam:

First, she’s not a paralegal. She’s just a legal secretary.

This answers the question we raised yesterday about whether she might be a paralegal rather than a secretary. In one of her emails to Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the Akin Gump employee said it would be easy to balance her work for Palfrey with her “paralegal duties.”
Our tipster continues:

Second, she has the ‘tude in the office that she’s better than the rest. Most people don’t like her.

Third, in terms of her appearance, she has the typical Barbie look: blonde, shapely, busty.

Based on this description, we’re guessing that this individual worked for a high-powered partner at Akin Gump. In our experience, legal secretaries fall into two categories: the total hotties, and the total notties, with precious few in between. They’re straight out of either (1) the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue or (2) a bingo hall.
The top dogs — name partners, major rainmakers, etc. — got the hottie secretaries. Everyone else had to just cross their fingers. So if Palfrey’s right-hand-woman is blonde and busty, she probably had a powerful boss at the firm.
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The D.C. Madam’s Akin Gump Apprentice: She’s No Miss Popularity”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWe have confirmed, with sources at the firm, the news that O’Melveny & Myers has raised associate base salaries in its California offices. The firm’s California and New York offices are now on the same salary scale.
The O’Melveny & MYers news was conveyed through a firm-wide voice-mail. The message said: “Over the past 24 hours, we’ve detected a movement in the associate and counsel compensation marketplace.”
(The “movement” referred to in the voicemail is presumably the bump in California salaries that was just announced by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.)
So here’s the new OMM pay scale:

Effective May 1, for all US offices (includes all CA offices and the DC office, and obviously NY):
2006: $160K
2005: $170K
2004: $185K
2003: $210K
2002: $230K
2001: $250K
2000: $265K
1999: $280K

Also, in case you question yesterday’s news about Orrick’s pay raise, today’s Recorder provides confirmation of what we previously reported. You can check out their article, which includes comment from Orrick chairman Ralph Baxter, by clicking here.
Orrick Ups Calif. Associates’ Pay to $160,000 [The Recorder]
Earlier: Skaddenfreude: Orrick Raises California Salaries

Don Imus Donald Imus nappy headed ho Above the Law blog.jpgOkay, not exactly. But Martin Garbus, the legendary litigator now representing former CBS radio host Don Imus, is coming out swinging.
Yesterday Garbus announced that Imus would sue CBS Radio for the unpaid portion of Imus’s $40 million contract. He said to expect the lawsuit by the end of next week.
Garbus cited a clause in Imus’s contract acknowledging that his show was “unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial.” This language may be part of the contract clause we discussed back in this post.
This morning’s news includes another argument we’ll probably see in the eventual lawsuit. From the AP:

CBS Radio and MSNBC had delay buttons, but didn’t use them when Imus made racist and sexist comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, lawyer Martin Garbus said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“That means CBS and MSNBC both knew the language that was going out, and both knew the language complied with (Imus’) contract. … It was consistent with many of the things he had done,” Garbus said.

Interesting. It sounds like CBS may have a real fight on its hands. And if the matter goes to a jury trial, there may be some sympathy for Imus. Here are the results of our recent ATL poll:
Don Imus Martin Garbus Donald Imus Leslie Moonves Les Moonves CBS radio Above the Law blog.jpg
And this poll was taken before we learned about the exact wording of the contract clause, as well as CBS’s alleged failure to use its delay buttons.
Hey Yul Kwon — CBS wants its million dollars back…
Imus Lawyer: We’ll Sue for Full Contract [Associated Press]
Imus Lawyer: Bosses Could’ve Cut Remarks [Associated Press]
Earlier: Is the Nappy-Headed Don Imus Entitled To One Free Bite of the Hoho?

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWe have received confirmation, from multiple sources, of a rumor that previously arose in the comments: Davis Polk & Wardwell has raised its clerkship bonus to $50,000. It joins the distinguished company of Sullivan & Cromwell, Simpson Thacher, Paul Weiss, Weil Gotshal, Cravath, Cleary Gottlieb, and Skadden Arps.
Also, contrary to this joke, Davis’s enhanced clerkship bonus will be paid to current clerks who have already accepted their DPW offers (i.e., it’s not just to entice clerks with pending but unaccepted offers from the firm).
There’s no email to reprint. Notification was made through telephone calls from recruiting.
Congratulations, DPW clerks!

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGSome happy news for Golden State associates of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. A source at the firm tells us:

“Orrick just matched New York salaries on the West Coast. We received a memo and videocast from [firm chairman] Ralph Baxter this morning.”

“All offices start at $160,000, except for Sacramento and Pacific Northwest.”

According to this comment, which has been verified by our source at the firm, the Orrick pay scale now looks like this:

Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York,
Orange County, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley
Level Salary
1 (2006) $160,000
2 (2005) $170,000
3 (2004) $185,000
4 (2003) $210,000
5 (2002) $230,000
6 (2001) $250,000
7 (2000) $265,000
8+ (1999+) $280,000

Good stuff. Any guesses as to whether (and when) any of the other big California shops — e.g., Gibson, Latham, O’Melveny — will follow suit?

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

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