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

Next time you hear a cell phone go off in a movie or at the theater, and think to yourself, “What an a**hole!”, remind yourself: Someday YOU might be that a**hole.
Watch this video, from the start of the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court finals, which we attended at Columbia Law School earlier this week. Pay special attention to what happens around the 18-second mark:

Yes, that’s right. The judges entered the room, their robes billowing out behind them. The court crier made the very formal and grandiose announcement: “Oyez, oyez…” The room fell into a solemn silence. And then, at that precise moment, our computer — which was in the process of turning on — made that annoying Windows start-up noise. Loudly.
One could feel a wave of horrified embarrassment sweep through the audience. Justice Alito chuckled, so hopefully he wasn’t too offended. But we were mortified (and rightfully so).
In our defense, this was a complete accident. We were in the process of setting up and turning on our computer, and we didn’t know when exactly the judges would be arriving. We turned our computer on, and it began the start-up process (which can take a little while). Unfortunately, just seconds after we turned it on, the judges made their entrance. And even more unfortunately, as the silence settled over the room, our computer made that colossally loud cyber-fart.
In any event, our apologies, Your Honors! Please do not blame the CLS audience for this rudeness. It was completely our fault.
We took some rough notes on the proceedings. They will probably interest you only if you attended the Moot Court finals yourselves. Or if you care about the hairstyles of Article III judges.
If you want to see our commentary, it’s available after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Wherein We Embarrass Ourselves at the Moot Court Finals”

Aaron Charney 2 headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney.jpgOur recent post about Aaron Charney and his well-to-do family background generated tons of discussion (about 90 reader comments). We’d like to pass along two pieces of additional information on the subject.
From a tipster who went to the same temple in the Syracause area (Temple Adath Yeshuran) as the Charney family:

“The Charneys do quite well for themselves with their stores. They never seemed to be wanting for cash, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that he’s got a trust fund.”

If Charney does come from such an affluent background, it may explain his willingness to “roll the dice” by pushing forward with his lawsuit against S&C. Someone from more modest means might have taken a more modest settlement, then moved on to a job at another firm. But someone with family money to fall back on might be more willing to shoot for a seven-figure payday, knowing that he could ride out even a lengthy period of unemployment with parental help.
But our source also has this to add:

“I’m not sure if Aaron Charney’s father is the only owner of the clothing store chain. The business may be a family business with more than one owner.”

We looked back at Bob Kolker’s profile of Aaron Charney for New York magazine. Kolker identifies Charney as “[t]he only son of an owner of a small chain of men’s clothing stores in the Syracuse area.” The indefinite article — “an owner,” rather than “the owner” — leaves open the possibility of multiple owners.
So this might dilute Charney’s patrimony, if other branches of his extended family also have their fingers in the dynastic till. Unlike, say, a chunk of the Wal-Mart fortune, multiple heirs from multiple families could be quite dilutive of Aaron’s share.
Does anyone know if Aaron Charney’s father is the sole owner of the Charney chain of stores? Anyone care to estimate what the chain’s annual revenue might be?
As always, if you can shed more light on any of this, please drop us a line.
Earlier: Brokeback Lawfirm: Aaron Charney’s Doing Just Fine, Thank You

Adriana Dominguez 2 Brooklyn Law School Playboy Above the Law blog.JPGPrompted by various comments, here are two more polls on Adriana Dominguez, the Brooklyn Law School student turned stripper:

If you’re seeking a more substantive analysis of this morning’s hearing in Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, check out this post by Lavi Soloway.
A Law Unto Itself ? Aaron Charney v Sullivan & Cromwell Returns to Court [Soloway]

Everyone seems to have an opinion on Adriana Dominguez, the Brooklyn Law School student who made a video for Playboy TV. We’d like to get a more systematic handle on people’s views:

Yesterday afternoon, we attended the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court finals, at Columbia Law School. We interviewed the four finalists prior to the arguments.
Here’s our interview with Eric Chesin and Geoffrey Reed:

And here’s our interview with David Gringer and Patrick Somers:

After impressive arguments, and deliberation by the distinguished panel — Justice Samuel A. Alito, Judge Susan P. Graber, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Judge Sonia Sotomayor — the best oralist prize went to Eric Chesin. Congratulations, Eric!

We’re back from today’s hearing in Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. In terms of entertainment value, it was a bit of a disappointment.
It was a pretty straightforward proceeding. No salacious accusations of destroyed hard drives; no mystery lawyers popping out of the audience to join in the fun; no mention of attorney disciplinary proceedings. Just arguments from counsel, with a lot of mumbled questions from Justice Bernard Fried (who really needs to speak into his microphone — or turn it on, maybe).
There were no rulings from the bench on any of the motions. Justice Fried took everything under advisement — and promised a ruling on at least one of the motions “shortly.” (We may have a more detailed report later; but really, there wasn’t much to write home about.)
For us, the most exciting part of today’s proceedings was getting to meet plaintiff Aaron Charney, in the flesh. We approached him during a break and introduced ourselves. He shook our hand, but didn’t say more (and seemed nervous). His voice was high, thin, a bit fey.
As for his appearance, we thought he wasn’t as cute as he is in photos. We also thought he looked older than we expected. But we chatted with two fellow spectators during a break, and they voiced the opposite views. They thought he looked more attractive in person, and younger in person than in photographs.
Here’s a picture we took of Aaron Charney exiting the courthouse:
Aaron Charney 60 Centre Street Above the Law blog.JPG
Unfortunately, he has his eyes closed (as we did at several points during the soporific proceedings). But you can see his crisp grey suit, baby blue shirt, and red necktie (Ferragamo is our guess). Perhaps he assembled this elegant ensemble at a Charney’s Shop?
Earlier: Brokeback Lawfirm: How Long Will This Spectacle Go On?

We’re closing the polls tomorrow, Friday the 13th (yikes), at 3 PM (Eastern time). To cast your ballot, click here.
Earlier: ATL March Madness: A New Final Four

It’s a wet and windy day here in New York City. We’re heading downtown to cover the big hearing today in Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, which starts at 9:30.
We’re probably going to arrive late, but better late than never. We’ll be back online later today.

To Morningside Heights and Columbia Law School. We’re attending their judicial celebrity-fest of a Moot Court final, and then we’re giving a talk, sponsored by the CLS Federalist Society. Here are the details for our appearance:

Wednesay, April 11, 6:00 PM
Columbia Law School
Jerome Greene Hall, Room 102
435 West 116th St. (at Amsterdam Avenue)

So we will once again be offline for a while. But please feel free to entertain yourselves in the comments (which we will read when we get back). Thanks.

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