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

Virginia Tech shooting VT Above the Law blog.JPGWe’ve learned more about the tragic killings at Virginia Tech since our brief post from yesterday. We’re guessing you’re following the case as closely as we are. But in case you’re not, here are some new facts:
1. The final death toll — at the time of our last post, it was over 20 — is now 33 (including the shooter, who killed himself).
2. We now know the identity of the killer. “He is Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old resident alien of the United States, as first reported by ABC News.”
Feel free to discuss further in the comments.
Virginia Tech Killer Identified [ABC News]
Virginia Gunman Identified as a Student [New York Times]
D.C. Area Man Was Va. Tech Shooter [Washington Post]
Earlier: Breaking: Gunman Kills At Least 20 at Virginia Tech

Robert Liptak attorney lawyer crack addict Above the Law blog.jpgRobert Liptak is a lawyer in Livingston Parish, Louisiana. And he knows how to arrive at the courthouse in style. From WAFB 9NEWS:

Sheriff’s deputies tell WAFB 9NEWS Robert Liptak arrived for court on his motorcycle and fell off it. Deputies took him in to the courthouse, where they say he then passed out in front of the judge.

From there, deputies arrested Liptak. They tell us they found crack rocks and a crack pipe on him. Liptak is still in jail and has to go to rehab immediately when he gets out. He has chosen not to do that.

We’re shocked and disappointed. Liptak is placing the legal profession in disrepute. Couldn’t he at least have used powder cocaine?
(Crack is so low-rent — and subjects its users to dramatically higher penalties, too.)
P.S. Liptak looks more like a crystal meth addict to us. But we suppose that crack use doesn’t do wonders for one’s appearance either.
Livingston Parish Attorney Arrested after Showing Up for Court [WAFB]

marathon Above the Law blog.jpgThe news cycle yesterday was dominated in the morning by coverage of the northeastern storm. In the afternoon, and continuing into today, the tragic events at Virginia Tech took center stage. (We’ll soon be setting up a new thread to discuss the VT shootings, which are dominating the morning headlines

But there was some happier news also, including the running of the 111th Boston Marathon. From a tipster:

Dan McGrath is a 1L at Notre Dame, and he just finished the Boston Marathon in 2:25:59, placing 31st overall.

We’re impressed by Mr. McGrath’s ability to balance marathon training with the rigors of the first year of law school. We congratulate him, and all the other lawyer-runners who completed the Boston Marathon, on their achievement.

(Feel free to mention other attorneys who completed yesterday’s race in the comments. Thanks.)

Boston Marathon [official website]

sc1 Paul Caminiti Vivia Chen Daniel Alterman Dan Alterman Above the Law blog.JPG
Leaving New York Supreme Court after last week’s hearing in Aaron Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell: Paul Caminiti of Sard Verbinnen, a former lawyer turned public relations guru, retained by S&C for the Charney matter; Vivia Chen of The American Lawyer, as stylish as ever; and Dan Alterman of Alterman & Boop, counsel to Aaron Charney, rocking the whole “lovable schlub” look.
A few more photographs, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Brokeback Lawfirm: A Few More Photos”

Congratulations to the Columbia Law Revue crew for putting on a great show, which we attended on Thursday night. We were lukewarm about some of their prior efforts, but our opinion has changed entirely.
Check out this great clip, a parody of this SNL video, which is currently #61 on YouTube in today’s Top Favorites for Comedy:

Additional videos are available here. Enjoy!
P.S. Despite their video-making prowess, the CLSers are still a lost cause when it comes to the coolest law school competition. They’re getting a beating at the hands of UVA (which, to be fair, also makes excellent video parodies).
A Special Finals Care Package [YouTube]
Columbia Law Revue [official website]

We’re heading back to D.C. now. It seems that the spring northeaster has abated, so it’s time for us to make our move.
We’ve arranged for some content to be posted while we’re gone; but obviously it won’t be responsive to any breaking news developments. So if anything big happens while we’re gone, this is the space for discussing it.
P.S. For those of you who care (which we realize is not all of you), the delayed update to our earlier clerkship bonus post will appear tomorrow — we promise. If you have any last-minute additions, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”). Thanks for your patience.

Virginia Tech shooting VT Above the Law blog.JPGFrom the AP:

A gunman opened fire in a dorm and classroom at Virginia Tech on Monday, killing 21 people and wounding another 21 before he was killed, police said.

From the New York Times:

At least 20 people were killed today, some of them students, and more were injured during shootings at Virginian Tech University, some of them at a classroom on the campus, the police said. The gunman was also shot to death, officials said at a news conference, but details about the incident and about the identity of the gunman were still unfolding.

Virginia Tech Shooting Kills at Least 20 [New York Times]
Gunman Kills 21 at Virginia Tech [Associated Press]

Rachel Brand Rachel L Brand Above the Law blog.jpgThe U.S. Attorney firing scandal rolls on. The WSJ Law Blog has a good linkwrap, highlighing the latest developments.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is frantically preparing for his make-or-break testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow. Remember the musical montage in Back to School, in which Rodney Dangerfield is shown cramming for his final exams — studying while eating, while on the treadmill, while getting a massage? We imagine Gonzales’s preparation for his SJC testimony has been a lot like that.
Anyway, here’s the development that excited us the most recently: how the fantabulous Rachel Brand — Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy, a rising star in conservative legal circles, and the reigning Prom Queen of the Federalist Society — narrowly escaped being dragged into this whole mess.
Recently released emails show that Brand was considered as a possible replacement for one of the ousted U.S. Attorneys. From the New York Times:

Rachel L. Brand, by her own admission, has never prosecuted so much as a traffic case. But in January 2006, when Justice Department officials began to discuss removing some United States attorneys, Ms. Brand was proposed as the top federal prosecutor in the Western District of Michigan, an e-mail message released on Friday shows.

In the end, Ms. Brand, who heads the Office of Legal Policy in the department, decided that she did not want the position and was not nominated to succeed Margaret M. Chiara, then the top prosecutor for the district. Ms. Chiara was later ousted.

In declining to be considered, Rachel Brand showed the excellent judgment that has taken her so far, so fast. Had Rachel Brand replaced Margaret Chiara, she would have been the victim of a mainstream media pile-on. The New York Times editorial board would have derided her as a Bush Administration political hack with no prosecutorial experience (albeit a hack with impeccable academic credentials, including Harvard Law School and a Supreme Court clerkship with Justice Kennedy — no Monica Goodling, she).
We’re glad to see that Rachel Brand has managed to steer clear of this whole mess, with her excellent reputation intact, and her dazzling career prospects undimmed by this controversy. Go Rachel!!!
Political Résumé, Not Court, Stood Out for a Contender [New York Times]
The U.S. Attorney Mess: A Monday Morning Roundup [WSJ Law Blog]

Ted Olson Theodore Olson Theodore B Olson Above the Law blog.jpgFormer Solicitor General Ted Olson, now back at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, is one of the nation’s top appellate advocates. He’s an amazing lawyer and a distinguished public servant. And he — together with his wife, the beautiful and brilliant Lady Booth — knows how to throw a killer wedding.
But Olson does seem to have an unorthodox sense of client conflict rules. From Howard Kurtz’s media column in today’s Washington Post:

Now it can be told: Matt Cooper thought that Time magazine’s strategy in the Valerie Plame leak investigation was “insane.” He was unhappy when his lawyer wanted to simultaneously represent I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the man whose identity Cooper was risking jail to protect. And Judith Miller got on his nerves.

Cooper, who has left Time, is now Washington bureau chief for Portfolio, the glossy business magazine from Conde Nast that makes its debut today. The launch is cloaked in secrecy….

Cooper says he realized early on that he would probably lose the subpoena battle over his refusal to testify about his 2003 discussions regarding Plame with White House aides Libby and Karl Rove. But Time rejected Cooper’s plea to compromise by seeking waivers of confidentiality from the officials. “Behind the scenes I desperately wanted to make a deal that could get us out of this mess,” he writes.

Norman Pearlstine, then Time Inc.’s editor in chief, decided to hire conservative lawyer Ted Olson. But Cooper’s opinion of the former solicitor general declined when Olson asked if he could also represent Libby, which Cooper saw as a conflict since “Libby’s defense ultimately involved my word against his.” Olson quickly backed off.

Our tipster notes: “I worked as an attorney at a federal agency in Washington for several years right after law school, and was frequently astonished by the casual approach to conflicts issues many private sector attorneys had there. Olson’s is the worst proposal I have seen in many years.”
But perhaps we’re missing something. We’re sure that some of you can come up with a defense of Olson’s ability to represent both Cooper and Libby. We welcome your thoughts in the comments.
A Sorry Story, With Apology Yet to Come [Washington Post]
Earlier: Lady and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Wedding Photos That Rock

This is for our curiosity. If you’re a practicing attorney, please take this single-question survey:

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