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

Paris Hilton mugshot Paris Hilton mug shot pic photo photograph Above the Law blog.JPGHampton Inn is the dumpy and unacceptable no frills, budget-oriented brand within the Hilton Hotel family. But compared to the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, California, where Paris Hilton will be serving out a 45-day sentence for violating the terms of her probation, a Hampton Inn looks like the Waldorf Towers.
At this grim county jail, don’t look for a mint on your pillow. Expect some pubic hair from a “very masculine lesbian[],” and you’re less likely to be disappointed.
From the New York Daily News (which could barely conceal its glee over Hilton’s upcoming jail stint):

Hilton will have to say “goodbye” to dye jobs and cosmetics and “hello” to five-minute showers once a day. Her friends and family will only be able to talk to her through glass and her phone calls will be made on the jail’s closely monitored pay phones.

Purse-pooch, Tinkerbell, will not be allowed to visit. And forget those designer duds she bought on Rodeo Drive. In the big house, Paris will have to make two pairs of socks, one bra, two pairs of panties and two blue jumpsuits last for a week.

Eh, no big deal — Paris prefers romping around in the buff anyway. And she won’t be fazed by the loss of privacy, since all the other inmates have already seen her naked.
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Prison Makes Even a Hampton Inn Look Luxurious”

Matthew Waxman Matt Waxman Matthew C Waxman Above the Law blog.jpgAs previously discussed, Matthew Waxman — a member of the Elect (OT 2000/Souter), and a law school classmate of ours — is headed for academia. He recently accepted an offer to join the faculty of Columbia Law School. Congratulations, Matt!
But in the meantime, Waxman is pretty busy over at the State Department. Steve Clemons of the Washington Note writes:

Policy Planning Director Stephen Krasner has now officially departed for Stanford — and “Acting Director Matthew Waxman” is in place.

Waxman is an ideas entrepreneur with character (he is one of the real insider heroes who while at DoD fought against the erosion of the Geneva Conventions on torture). He also gets strategy and knows that water wars, transnational disease transmission, environmental challenges posed by climate change dynamics, massive refugee crises, and other non-traditional problems must be dealt with as well as thinking through how a superpower manages its interests in a world where other superpowers — and even not so super powers — aren’t the overriding security challenge.

Clemons shares our high opinion of Waxman — and thinks that his appointment as Policy Planning Director should be made permanent:

[P]erhaps State should remove the “acting” from Matthew Waxman’s title and roll the dice on someone who appears to many to be a 21st century “young Yoda.” Waxman, who I have met on occasion, reminds me of a hybrid of strategic wunderkind Paul Nitze and Eisenhower acolyte Andy Goodpaster.

One senior State Department official believes that Condi Rice “wants a name” heading Policy Planning — someone “with more stature.” But this is a pivotal time in American history and foreign policy. Not a lot of what we did yesterday will be that helpful in thinking through what we need to do tomorrow. Everything needs to be rethought.

Condi: Let’s not forget that Waxman is a former Supreme Court clerk. Isn’t that enough “stature” for you?
(We realize that a SCOTUS clerkship is a legal credential, and that Waxman’s current position is a policy post. But genius does not recognize such small-minded, jurisdictional limitations. Three cheers for Supreme Court clerks!)
Getting John Bolton Off of Bush’s Payroll Correlates with Improved US Foreign Policy Gains [The Washington Note]
Matthew Waxman bio [U.S. Department of State]
Earlier: Some Weekend Odds and Ends

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGAs noted by several commenters, and as this article in Monday’s Recorder will report, Morrison & Foerster has announced a firm-wide increase in associate base salaries. This follows on the heels of pay raise news from two other California-based (or California-originating) firms, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and O’Melveny & Myers.
Here’s the new MoFo pay scale:

1 – $160,000 (2006)
2 – $170,000 (2005)
3 – $185,000 (2004)
4 – $210,000 (2003)
5 – $230,000 (2002)
6 – $250,000 (2001)
7 – $265,000 (2000)
8 – $280,000 (1999)

As reflected in the base salary table above, all of MoFo’s offices are now on what might be called a “New York” or “$160K” pay scale. The same is true of O’Melveny, but not of Orrick (which raised starting salaries in its Sacramento and Pacific Northwest offices, but not all the way to $160,000 — just to $145,000).
With respect to the MoFo news, there’s a catch (which the Recorder fails to mention). As noted by this comment:

MOFO eliminated the “contribution bonus” payable upon hitting 1950 [hours]. More or less took the 1950 bonus, which almost everyone earns, plus a few grand more and spread that over a 12 month period. NY lawyers still get bonuses like all other NY attorneys.

Or this one (from commenter “Screwed”):

MoFo announced that it’s matching OMM and Orrick, but then anounced that it’s rescinding its previously-announced hours-based bonus that kicks in at 1950 hours. The salary increase, pro-rated over 8 months, is essentially of equal value as the now-rescinded bonus. In other words, the only real difference for people meeting their minimum hours requirement is that they get that portion of their bonus up-front. Is OMM or Orrick also playing the “give with one hand while taking with the other” move to “increase” salaries?

Your responses to this question are welcome in the comments.
More Calif. Firms Follow Orrick’s Move to $160K Associate Pay [The Recorder]

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?

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