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

Uncle Sam Above the Law legal blog tabloid.jpgIn addition to our Law School March Madness, we have a few other things going on at ATL where your participation would be most welcome:
1. Please take our reader survey. It’s quick, painless, and of great help to us.
2. Please submit a nomination for our U.S. Attorney hotties contest. We have a fair number already, but we’d like a few more before we launch the contest. Submission details appear here.
3. Please consider writing Legal Eagle Wedding Watch (see here). We’ve already heard from a number of great candidates, but we’ll accept additional applications for another day or two before deciding.
(And thanks for the plug, Ilya!)
4. Please vote in some of our still-open polls. We didn’t realize we had so many open; we’ll be closing a bunch soon. Here they are:
(a) Are first-year associates overpaid?
(b) What were your 2006 billable hours?
(c) Is a $200,000 bonus for a Supreme Court clerkship too high, too low, or just right?
(d) What should Aaron Charney do next?
(e) Whom do you support in Charney v. S&C?
(f) Assuming Aaron Charney’s allegations are true, how much would you award him?
5. Finally, if you have firsthand knowledge of two S&C partners with major roles in the Charney drama — Vince DiBlasi or Stephen Kotran — please share it with us.
We’ve heard from a number of tipsters about DiBlasi, but we have practically nothing on Steve Kotran, so info about him would be especially welcome. Thanks!

This morning we announced, with much fanfare, the arrival of ATL March Madness: Law Schools. We posted the brackets, which you can review by clicking here, and we opened the polls in one half of the draw.
Now we bring you the other half of the tournament. Here’s the first poll, pitting the Midwest against the South:

The rest of the polls — including a clash of the titans, between Harvard and Georgetown — appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March Madness: Law Schools, Round 1 (Part 2)”

Ritz Carlton hotel Marina Del Rey Above the Law blog.JPGIf you’ve been rooting for Aaron Charney in the Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell litigation, you have a duty to change your allegiances — at least for the rest of March.
Why? Because March, in case you didn’t know, is Law Firm Appreciation Month!!!
We didn’t realize this until we received this press release, from a public relations person at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey:


MARINA DEL REY, Ca. – March 2007 – Indulge in a waterfront luxury hotel experience during Law Firm Appreciation Month at The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey. Let the ladies and gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey relieve the pressures of legal professionals’ daily work agendas and demands with special amenities provided during the month of March. Simply relax and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul in the comforts of the hotel’s recently remodeled accommodations, which offer all the personalized amenities you deserve and breathtaking views of the marina and city skyline that you crave.

The promotion includes a complimentary upgrade, subject to availability, and a shoeshine. Sounds nice enough, even if not mind-blowing.
But some are less than impressed. From one of our favorite hotel blogs, HotelChatter:

Sounds kinda like some half-assed appreciation to us, especially since that room upgrade happens only when its available. And while shoeshines work just fine for men, one female lawyer said she would be happier with a pedicure and a glass of wine.

Thanks, Alison….
The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey [official hotel website]
Ritz-Carlton Shows Some Restricted Appreciation for Lawyers [HotelChatter]

  • 26 Mar 2007 at 1:22 PM

Stephen Breyer 4 Stephen G Breyer Above the Law Legal Tabloid Legal Blog.JPGJustice Stephen Breyer recently appeared on NPR’s popular trivia show, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me. Alas, his performance on the trivia portion of the show — which focused on biographical details about rock stars — was less than illustrious. This led one of the hosts to scold Justice Breyer as follows: “Back to the appeals court for you!”
But the parts of the show in which SGB was interviewed were interesting and sometimes amusing. For example, we didn’t know this:

Answering panelist Paula Poundstone, Breyer revealed his robe never gathers lint. “It’s a synthetic,” he explained, purchased 25 years ago when he was a federal appeals judge in Boston.

Some good riffing from the hosts around this revelation. Mo Rocca asked Justice Breyer, “Why not have Justice Alito just pick the lint off for you?” And also: “Do you ever wear the robe to the supermarket, just to wow people?”
Finally, this was a good quip (although one we think we’ve heard before):

Being the funniest Supreme Court justice, [Breyer] said, “is like being one of the shortest tall people.”

We must quibble, however, with the premise of the question. Justice Breyer drew the most laughs of the nine justices over a fairly short period of time, as noted on the show. But over a longer period of time, which we view as a more reliable indicator, Justice Breyer was only the second-funniest justice on the Court — lagging behind Nino, by far.
Not My Job: Justice Stephen Breyer [NPR / Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me]
Justice Breyer Gets the Rock-Star Treatment [Washington Wire via WSJ Law Blog]
Justice Breyer Goes 0-3 on NPR News Quiz [Associated Press]
So, Guy Walks Up to the Bar, and Scalia Says… [New York Times]

We noticed that you guys enjoy trash talking about rival law schools. And we also realize, despite our general ignorance about sports, that we are now in the midst of “March Madness.” So, as several of you requested, we are introducing a March Madness-inspired feature to ATL.


Here are the brackets. They’re based, as you might have guessed, on the U.S. News and World Report rankings. At least they’re good for something!
(Where schools were tied, we assigned seeds based on where the schools appear on the USNWR list, which seemed to break ties based on alphabetical order.)
law school tournament brackets.GIF
Here’s how the tournament will work. Law schools will advance to the next round based on reader polls, in which we ask you which law school is “cooler.” You can define “cooler” in whatever way you wish. Basically, it’s a popularity contest.
The first set of polls appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March Madness: Law Schools, Round 1 (Part 1)”

Gandolfo DiBlasi 2 Vincent DiBlasi Gandolfo V DiBlasi Vince DiBlasi Above the Law Blog.JPGOne of you posted this in the comments, and we subsequently verified it with sources at the firm. Late last week, this announcement was made internally at Sullivan & Cromwell:

I am pleased to announce that Vince DiBlasi, Andrew Gerlach, Tracy Richelle High, Jessica Klein, Keith Pagnani, Melissa Sawyer, Karen Seymour, and Fred Rich, as Chair, have agreed to serve on a new working group focusing on the recruiting process and the associate experience. The group has been charged with looking at all aspects of our recruiting strategy and process, and, in conjunction with the Associate Development Committee, our approach to associate career development and every aspect of the associate experience at the firm.

We have no higher priority than continuing to attract the most promising law students, and then to provide them, and all our current lawyers, with training, professional opportunities and an overall experience that is second to none. I would be grateful if each of you would share your own ideas and suggestions with any member of this group.

Rodgin Cohen

Some of you will accuse us of seeing everything through an Aaron Charney lens, but we’ll pose the question anyway: Could this be a response to the public relations fallout from Charney v. S&C?
As for the composition of the working group, we have to ask: What’s up with the half measures, Rodge? If you want to put S&C’s best, jack-booted foot forward, why not throw Krautheimer and Korry on it too?
If you have any suggestions for the S&C committee, please offer them in the comments. We recommend weekly Leni Riefenstahl screenings to improve associate morale.
(The timing couldn’t be better — there’s a Riefenstahl renaissance afoot.)

naomi campbell Above the Law Legal Tabloid.GIFUnless required to do so as part of court-ordered community service. But even when scrubbing toilets, she still looks like a million bucks. From the NYT:

First there was a cry, then a murmur, and finally a swoon. Naomi Campbell, the millionaire fashion model, emerged yesterday from a grimy Department of Sanitation garage in a floor-length evening gown, marking the end of her court-ordered community service.

She waved with her right hand, pulled up the shimmering silver gown with her left, smiled for the cameras and then ducked into her Rolls-Royce limousine, a silver Phantom costing at least $340,000. She did not say a word.

This runway girl was definitely “working it” — with a broom:

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., she swept, mopped and wiped at the garage, which has garbage and recycling facilities. She received no preferential treatment, [Sanitation Department officiall Albert] Durrell said. Ms. Campbell ate pizza from Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn, like the others in her work crew.

Yes, Mr. Durrell acknowledged, Ms. Campbell did clean toilets. No, he said, she did not have to be taught how to use a mop or broom. Ms. Campbell “was on her hands and knees at some point cleaning the walls and floors on the second floor,” he said.

One of Campbell’s community service colleagues described her as “wonderful” and “a pleasure to work with.” Who says rehabilitation is dead?
After 5 Days of Mopping and Scrubbing, What Else Would a Model Wear? [New York Times]
Nice and clean [New York Daily News]
The pleasure’s all mine, Naomi [New York Daily News]

Eminem Marshall Mathers Above the Law blog.jpgPeople in certain lines of work — e.g., litigation, rapping, blogging — develop pretty thick skins. If you get attacked, insulted, and criticized on a daily basis, you stop noticing it pretty quickly.
So why is Eminem so sensitive?
(He claims he’s going to court to protect his 11-year-old daughter, Hailie, from being exposed to negative comments about her father. But we suspect she has plenty of other issues.)
Eminem goes to court to shut Kim up [Detroit News via Drudge Report]

chart.gifWe know you guys love arguing over stuff in the comments. So here’s some red meat for your to chew upon: Vault’s list of the top 25 most underrated law schools.
Is your law school on the list? Should it be?
Here are the top 10, as collected over at TaxProf Blog:
1. Emory
2. Fordham
3. Howard
4. Chicago-Kent
5. Oregon
6. George Mason
7. Illinois
8. William & Mary
9. Vanderbilt
10. Georgia
What we’d like to see: a list of the ten most OVERrated law schools.
(Yeah, we know — there is a fair case that our alma mater should be on any such list. But the Vault list looks at schools from the perspective of law firms looking for associates to hire, not law schools looking for prospective faculty members.)
Most Underrated Law Schools [Vault via TaxProf Blog]

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