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

H Rodgin Cohen 2 Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGRecently H. Rodgin Cohen, chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell, was interviewed by Chrystia Freeland, the U.S. managing editor for the Financial Times.
The full transcript interview appears here. Of course, the subject of Aaron Charney v. S&C came up:

FT: You’re being accused quite publicly, your firm is, of sexual discrimination against a gay associate, what’s your response and what has it been like? It’s been a very public case.

RC: It has been public and that makes it unusual because I have had calls from various law firms saying there, but for the grace of God, go us because we were able to deal with it out of the limelight.

Wow — we’d love to hear the gory details. For every Charney v. S&C, there are probably five cases like it that get settled quietly, without fuss.
(Speaking of which, whatever happened to Marinaro v. Greenberg Traurig?)

RC (continued): Our response, I think, is quite simple. We have made it a real mission to ensure that this is a welcoming and inclusive law firm. And in my view there is no way that we could be engaged in a policy of discrimination in the area of GLT with our record. We have probably more gay and lesbian partners than any firm, anywhere. We tried to make it a welcoming firm for everyone to be totally inclusive and I think if somebody ever sat down and talked to the partners who are here who are gay, lesbian or transgender or our staff or our associates, I think they would all agree that this is a fully inclusive and welcoming place.

FT: Do you actually have transgender partners?

RC: To my knowledge there is not a transgender partner but there is transgender staff.

We appreciate Cohen’s hedge: “To my knowledge.” Because a firm chairman should be hands on, but not TOO hands on.
Transcript: Rodgin Cohen [FT.com]

The dominant company in the bar exam test prep market, Bar/Bri, has been sued for alleged violations of federal antitrust laws. That class action lawsuit may be settling — and you might be a class member entitled to settlement proceeds. Click here for more info.
Are Bar/Bri’s legal woes over? Not necessarily. Given how painful it can be to sit through some of their classes, it’s only a matter of time before BarBri gets sued again. We’re sure some enterprising plaintiffs’ lawyer can come up with a tort theory for suing Bar/Bri, on behalf of all students who have had to suffer through their courses.
If you think such a lawsuit would be frivolous, then watch this video from the 2005 Virginia Law Libel Show (the same folks who brought you that Beastie Boys parody). The idiocy has been exaggerated for comic effect — but not by much. Enjoy.

Barbri Video — The Virginia Law Libel Show [YouTube]
Earlier: Who Says White Men Can’t Rap?

Columbia Law School CLS Above the Law blog.jpgOur appearance next week at Columbia Law School, previously mentioned here, has been moved by half an hour (so that it won’t conflict with the star-studded Moot Court finals).
Here are the new details:

Wednesay, April 11, 5:30 PM 6:00 PM
Columbia Law School
Jerome Greene Hall, Room 102
435 West 116th St. (at Amsterdam Avenue)

It’s open to the public, so feel free to swing by if you’re in the neighborhood. Thanks!

calculator Above the Law blog.jpgNew York’s new Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has some big shoes to fill. Governor Eliot Spitzer, during his time as New York AG, was a very busy bee.
It looks like Cuomo has found a juicy scandal to sink his teeth into — one with possible implications for many of the law students among you. From the NYT:

The directors of financial aid at Columbia University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California held shares in a student loan company that each of the universities recommends to student borrowers, and in at least two cases profited handsomely.

The personal stake of the three university officials in the company, now known as Student Loan Xpress, is the latest revelation in an expanding investigation by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo of New York into the relationships between student loan companies and universities. Student Loan Xpress is one of the “preferred lenders” recommended at all three universities.

Some interesting info from a tipster, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘Preferred Lenders’ for Financial Aid: A Big Racket?”

As reflected in the comments to our recent post, people can’t see eye to eye about Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh. To some, he’s an American hero; to others, he’s a liberal political hack.
But here are two things we believe to be non-controversial:
1. Dean Koh doesn’t look as good without his shirt as Dean Hiram Chodosh, of the S.J. Quinney Law School (University of Utah). A shirtless photo of Dean Chodosh, a nominee in our Law School Dean Hotties contest, is available here.
2. Dean Koh can’t dance as well as Dean Chodosh. Proving that NYU law students aren’t the only ones who can do fun stuff with the Michael Jackson song “Beat It,” Dean Chodosh recently strutted his stuff to that famous eighties classic:

Dean Hiram Chodosh for SCOTUS!!!
Napoleon Dean-O-Mite [YouTube]
Earlier: Should Hiram Chodosh File a Notice of Appeal?

A list of Fortune 250 general counsels who are practicing law without a license appears here. An article explaining it appears here.
This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. If a successful nominee to the exalted D.C. Circuit couldn’t keep track of the licensing requirements of his jurisdiction, why should we expect any better from general counsels?
Best comment, from Vernon Baker II of ArvinMeritor Inc.: “You got me.”
Almost all of these are just paperwork problems. But one situation is more mysterious:

Todd DuChene at Solectron, an electronic systems manufacturer based in Milpitas, Calif., was alone among the GCs in our survey in declining to confirm or deny his status. DuChene is not listed in the State Bar of California’s database as a licensed attorney, according to bar official Diane Curtis.

Might DuChene be another Brian Valery?
Which Leading GCs Are Operating Without a License? [Corporate Counsel via Law.com]
Something’s Missing [Corporate Counsel via Law.com]

We’ve learned a little more about the talented creator of the NYU Law Revue videos that we’ve recently highlighted. His name is Ryan Landes, and he’s a 3L at NYU, who will be working at a firm in L.A. after graduation. Given his gift for film, it’s not surprising that he’s headed to Hollywood (where perhaps he’ll bump into Eric Krautheimer at The Ivy).
Despite the demands of law school, Ryan finds the time to pursue film as a hobby. Here’s a droll little video he did for last year’s Law Revue, poking fun at Early Interview Week (EIW) on the NYU campus.
(The big joke in the sketch is a little dated. But is it ever possible to have too much of Aquagirl?)

EIW [YouTube]

harold koh harold hongju koh.jpgThat’s the prospect repeatedly pushed in a two-part profile of Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh, from the Yale Daily News. The profile has been discussed extensively in the legal blogsophere (see links below).
Oh goodness. We could say something snarky and dismissive (e.g., “Hell to the N-O”). But we will comport ourselves with the dignity you expect from a leading gossip blogger.
We will merely refer you to what others have already said on the subject. E.g., Professor Stephen Bainbridge (“Koh’s appointment to the SCOTUS would be an unmitigated disaster.”); Professor David Bernstein (Koh is “a highly partisan liberal Democrat under whose tenure as dean conservative and libertarian students have felt increasingly uncomfortable”); and commenters at the WSJ Law Blog (“a severe narcissist,” “a political zealot,” and “[Harvard Dean] Elena Kagan would be a better choice”).
(Our favorite comment, from a WSJ Law Blog reader: “Other than that he’d be a sure vote for declaring Gitmo detainees have a constitutional right to Social Security benefits, I do not see the appeal.”)
So we’re holding our tongue. We do not want to have our YLS degree revoked after the fact.
A few more thoughts, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Justice Harold Hongju Koh?”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWe will soon be posting an update to our earlier, draft report on clerkship bonuses. Thanks to everyone for all the tips, corrections, and additions. If you have info to share, please email us (subject line: “Clerkship Bonus”).
In the meantime, here’s another useful little resource for you. It was sent to us by a tipster with this message:

Looks like the NY Law Journal JUST picked up on the trend of listing the $160,000 firms. Don’t they know that every associate in the city already got this list from Abovethelaw?

Indeed. But in case you’d like to refresh your recollection (or want your salary information with an MSM seal of approval), the NYLJ listing of $160K firms — aka the “List of Pride,” the opposite of the “List of Shame” — appears here (free subscription may be required).
NY First-Year Salaries: Who Pays $160,000 [New York Law Journal via nylawyer.com]

smiley face with bomb Above the Law blog.gifThe Cravath partner who uses Scotch tape to Biore herself during a deposition. The Sullivan & Cromwell partner who allegedly tells a gay associate to “bend over” and pick up a document. The partner that you’re probably working for right now, who makes one insane demand after another.
What is UP with these people? How can they be so clueless? Why are they completely unable to appreciate how their words and actions will be received?
One theory about why powerful partners act the way they do can be gleaned from this NYT op-ed, by Richard Conniff, author of The Natural History of the Rich. Conniff suggests, in a nutshell, that power turns people into inconsiderate a**holes. Here’s an excerpt:

Researchers led by the psychologist Dacher Keltner took groups of three ordinary volunteers and randomly put one of them in charge. Each trio had a half-hour to work through a boring social survey. Then a researcher came in and left a plateful of precisely five cookies. Care to guess which volunteer typically grabbed an extra cookie? The volunteer who had randomly been assigned the power role was also more likely to eat it with his mouth open, spew crumbs on partners and get cookie detritus on his face and on the table….

The researchers went on to theorize that getting power causes people to focus so keenly on the potential rewards, like money, sex, public acclaim or an extra chocolate-chip cookie — not necessarily in that order, or frankly, any order at all, but preferably all at once — that they become oblivious to the people around them.

Are you one of those associates who does whatever a partner asks of you, quickly and without complaint, no matter how unreasonable? You may be part of the problem:

[T]he people around them may abet this process, since they are often subordinates intent on keeping the boss happy. So for the boss, it starts to look like a world in which the traffic lights are always green (and damn the pedestrians). Professor Keltner and his fellow researchers describe it as an instance of “approach/inhibition theory” in action: As power increases, it fires up the behavioral approach system and shuts down behavioral inhibition.

So next time a certain partner asks you to coordinate an armada of town cars to ferry deal documents to her at home, “Just Say No.” You’re standing up not just for yourself, but for generations of unborn associates.
(Okay, this advice would probably get you fired. But wouldn’t it be satisfying to tell her off? It might almost be worth losing your job to say to her, “I graduated from a top law school. I got offers from every top firm I applied to. Do I look like a Dial-A-Car dispatcher?”)
The Rich Are More Oblivious Than You and Me [New York Times]

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