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

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWhen we were drawing up our LIST OF SHAME (latest version here), Squire Sanders & Dempsey got dropped along the way. To make the list more manageable, we limited it to firms with a significant New York presence.
Some readers appealed that decision. These two comments are representative:

“The updated List of Shame doesnt include some firms like Squire Sanders and others anymore. I wonder if that’s because they matched (I dont think they did) or because they don’t have big NY offices, so supposedly they shouldn’t be on the list to begin with. If it’s the second explanation that’s right, then we have to get them returned to the List of Shame”.

“PLEASE add Squire Sanders to the list. They’re actively seeking a larger New York presence (currently 2 associates). And they certainly suck as much as any of the other firms on the list. Give them the credit they’ve worked so hard to achieve. Pretty please.”

We’ve also heard, through the grapevine, about a general lack of transparency at SSD concerning associate compensation. So we thought that it might be worth poking around — especially in view of this recent comment:

A post on the Greedy Ohio website indicates that Squire Sanders has raised first year salaries outside of Ohio. Can anyone confirm or deny? Any add’l information?

Is this correct? Do you have any other information about Squire Sanders & Dempsey? If so, please comment on this post, or email us (subject: “Squire Sanders & Dempsey”). Thanks.
Re: any info on JD salaries [Greedy Ohio]

Law School in a Box Above the Law blog.JPGThe guy who wrote this Craigslist post, who wants out of Biglaw after only six months, is probably kicking himself right now.
Why did he blow six figures on an NYU legal education? Why didn’t he just buy this product instead?
P.S. We assume the CL posting is real. Of course, since it’s anonymous, it could very well be a fake.
P.P.S. Speaking of things that come in boxes, if you haven’t done so already — and if you’re not in the office — check out this SNL video (NSFW).
Law School in a Box [Mental Floss]
Lawyer From Top Firm, NYU JD, CA Bar, for Non-Legal Ent & Media Job [craigslist]
“Scrupulous Editing Abilities” [Prettier Than Napoleon]
Earlier: Non-Sequiturs: 03.27.07

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgIn our post from yesterday about Monica Goodling, we asked for insights and tidbits about this high-profile Justice Department lawyer. The post generated an avalanche of comments.
We also received a few emails (although not as many as we might have liked). Here’s one:

I went to high school near Messiah College, and I knew several people named Goodling who went to high school with me. According to U.S. Search, there’s a woman named Monica Marie Goodling who lived in York Haven, PA. The previous congressman from the district including York Haven was Bill Goodling, so she may be distantly related or a granddaughter.

Does anyone know if there’s any relation? We wouldn’t be surprised. It does seem that Monica M. Goodling is well-connected in Republican circles. According to one commenter, she previously worked as a lawyer at the Republican National Committee (RNC). Another claims that she owes her “considerable political mojo” to Karl Rove.
Update: A trusted source tells us that Goodling’s “mojo” comes “not from Karl Rove, but from Barbara Comstock, for whom she worked at the RNC. When Comstock moved to DoJ as head of the Office of Public Affairs, she brought MG with her as her assistant.”
Many of your comments about Monica Goodling were rather harsh. Here’s an email we received that we pass along to add some balance:

I feel compelled to write in, because of the number of people questioning [Monica Goodling's] intelligence and integrity (though I guess that’s to be expected in a public forum)….

Whenever I spend time with her, I am struck by her intelligence, her competence, her dedication to her country, her integrity, and her commitment to her values.

Anyone who knows her at all would not question whether she acted with integrity in this instance. For the people who question how she got her job, she got her job because she works extremely hard and is very good at what she does. I didn’t even know she went to Regent. She is just as smart as most Harvard and Yale grads I know.

We thank our sources for their contributions. Once again, if you have firsthand knowledge of Monica Goodling — as opposed to opinions based on what you’ve read (which we all have) — please drop us a line. Thanks.
DC Picnic Photos [Regent University]
Earlier: Do You Know Monica Goodling?

John Merrett Judge John Merrett gun pistol Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re giving this guy our “Judge of the Day” award, ’cause there’s no telling what he might do if he didn’t get it. From the Florida Times-Union:

A Jacksonville judge pulled a handgun in his courtroom after a spectator attacked a defendant.

The fracas occurred Friday after a crime victim’s father hurdled a railing and punched the handcuffed defendant.

Circuit Judge John Merrett then handed his gun to a clerk for safekeeping when he realized bailiffs had subdued the attacker. He met with the man in his chambers and later ordered him released without bail even though he was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors.

Judge Merrett is awesome. When he ran for office, he pledged that he would “do whatever was necessary to give defendants and the public speedy trials.” And that includes whipping out a pistol in open court!
Of course, a whiny PD complained about Judge Merrett exercising his Second Amendment rights:

Most judges in Duval County have concealed weapons permits and have gone through firearms training even if they don’t carry a gun. Merrett, a former assistant state attorney, said he has had extensive firearms training.

Duval County Public Defender Bill White said the incident was scary enough for lawyers in the courtroom that he plans to talk to the chief judge about disarming the judges.

Thankfully, this effort probably won’t get much traction:

The chief judge said he encourages all the judges to receive firearms training and obtain concealed weapons permits.

Let’s hope this trend of judges packing heat under their robes continues. There are some encouraging signs. We hear that a certain elderly female judge, in the Southern District of New York, has a fondness for firearms (and carries a concealed weapon). Fantastic!
P.S. We can’t say we’re entirely surprised by this story. Doesn’t Judge Merrett look like a bearded version of Scott Savol, the former American Idol contestant who was charged with misdemeanor assault?
Judge Pulls Pistol in Court [Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)]
Merrett takes lead as new judge in the 4th circuit [Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)]

Bluebook The Bluebook Above the Law legal blog.gifLittle things matter in the legal profession. A typographical error can cost you $40,000. A misplaced comma can be worth hundreds of thousands.
And citing the wrong statute can lead to a nine-figure loss. From the AP:

Poorly written Justice Department documents cost the federal government more than $100 million in what was supposed to have been the crowning moment of the biggest tax prosecution ever.

Walter Anderson, the telecommunications entrepreneur who admitted hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from the IRS and District of Columbia tax collectors, was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in prison and ordered to repay about $23 million to the city.

But U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said he couldn’t order Anderson to repay the federal government $100 million to $175 million because the Justice Department’s binding plea agreement with Anderson listed the wrong statute.

At the end of the day, it may not matter much, because the IRS intends to pursue the money in civil proceedings. But it’s still highly embarrassing for the DOJ — which doesn’t need more embarrassment these days.
Tax Cheat Escapes $100 Million Repayment [Associated Press]
Mogul Sentenced to 9 Years For Tax Evasion and Fraud [Washington Post]

We tend to doubt it. The source for the underlying exposé, World Net Daily, is perhaps best known for a piece entitled Soy Is Making Kids Gay.
But we pass this along for your consideration. Do with it as you will.
Alberto Gonzales’ Gay-Teen-Sex Cover-Up Shocker! [Wonkette]
Embattled AG now accused in teen sex scandal ‘cover-up’ [WorldNetDaily]

Paul McNulty Paul J McNulty Above the Law blog.jpegThat’s the gist of this lengthy, extremely interesting, thoroughly researched special report. It’s by one of our favorite reporters, Jan Crawford Greenburg — who’s on the verge of replacing Linda Greenhouse as undisputed queen bee of the SCOTUS press corps hive.
After reading the JCG piece, a devastating indictment of McNulty’s involvement in this debacle, one possible outcome presents itself as increasingly likely:

Alberto Gonzales stays on as Attorney General — but Paul McNulty’s head rolls.

A scandal this big needs to claim some victims before it dies down. Some high-ranking DOJ or White House officials must be sacrificed to the vengeful Senate Democrats. And, with all due respect, Kyle Sampson isn’t a sufficiently big fish. Nor is Monica Goodling, for that matter.
But the Deputy Attorney General of the United States? Now that’s another story…
Update: The question then becomes whether McNulty goes quietly. There’s a good case to be made that the answer is no.
DOJ Official Ignored White House Guidance [ABC News]
Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty biography [U.S. Department of Justice]
Paul J. McNulty bio [Wikipedia]

Just a quick administrative announcement about ATL March Madness. You can participate in the tournament, by voting for your favorite law school(s), by clicking here and here.
At this early point in the tourney, most match-ups are looking lopsided. The closest ones at the current time are Boalt Hall v. Michigan (Michigan leads, 51-49); Yale v. Texas (Texas leads, 53-47); and Harvard vs. Georgetown (Harvard leads, 52-48).
So you can still vote — but you need to act fast. We will close the polls tomorrow, Wednesday, March 28, at 3 PM (Eastern time). Good luck!
(If you’d like to see the brackets for the full tournament, we reprint them after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March Madness: When Round 1 Will End”

Monica Goodling 4 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGIf so, we’d love to hear from you — please email us (subject line: “Monica Goodling”). Now that Goodling, who served as the Justice Department’s White House liaison (she’s currently on leave), has announced her intention to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege, the public is hungry for more details about this mystery woman of the DOJ.
So what we do know about Monica Goodling — besides her weakness for Ralph Lauren clothing and red plastic cups?
Dan Froomkin, over at White House Watch, offers up a detailed and comprehensive write-up (with numerous links). He explains why Beltway insiders are once again fixated on a young woman named Monica:

Will another presidency be tripped up by another Monica?

Juries in criminal cases are sternly lectured not to assume guilt when a defendant takes the Fifth. It is, after all, a Constitutional right.

But when a fairly minor player in what had heretofore not been considered a criminal investigation suddenly admits that she faces legal jeopardy if she tells the truth to a Congressional panel? Well, in that case, wild speculation is an inevitable and appropriate reaction.

The WSJ Law Blog also has a nice round-up:

Who is Monica Goodling? She’s a White House liaison for AG Alberto Gonzales and is currently on leave. Emails released by the DOJ last week showed she played a central role in the dismissals. Thanks to this story, we also know that she’s 33, a 1995 graduate Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., and received her law degree at Regent University, the Virginia Beach, Va. school founded by Yale Law School graduate Pat Robertson.

Such credentials led one ATL commenter to wonder:

What I want to know is how a 1999 graduate of the purported “law school” at a purported “university” founded by Pat Robertson has acquired the title of “Senior Counsel” to this nation’s Attorney General.

More on Monica, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Do You Know Monica Goodling?”

Shiftiness and greed, from an aspiring lawyer-cum-businessman? Heaven forfend!
NYU Law Kid Wants to Help You Help Him [IvyGate]

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