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

Things are getting a little heavy around here, with heated discussion of this morning’s decision in Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF). So it’s time to mix up the programming a little.
Let’s turn our attention from stuff that matters a lot to stuff that matters, well, not terribly much. ATL’s March Madness competition — our quest to crown America’s coolest law school — will conclude tomorrow, Thursday, April 19, at 3 PM (Eastern time). So if you haven’t done so already, please cast your vote :


GOOD LUCK!!!
Earlier: ATL March Madness: The Championship Match

Pregnant Belly 2 Above the Law blog.JPGThis just in from One First Street. The Associated Press reports:

The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long- awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

The opponents of the act “have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision pitted the court’s conservatives against its liberals, with President Bush’s two appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, siding with the majority.

This ruling lends support to those who predict — like Jan Crawford Greenburg, in Supreme Conflict — that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito will move the Court significantly to the right in the years ahead. Before Justice Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a decision like this one would have required the conservatives to secure TWO swing votes, AMK and SOC, instead of just one. That frequently doomed the conservatives to defeat in the big-ticket cases.
So Justice Alito, appointed to the Court by President Bush, probably made all the difference here. As Senatrix Barbara Boxer recently observed: “Elections have consequences.”
Update: For more detailed commentary, check out Lyle Denniston’s SCOTUSblog post, which quotes extensively from Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent. To read the opinion itself, click here (PDF).
Court Backs Ban on Abortion Procedure [Associated Press]
Court upholds federal abortion ban [SCOTUSblog]
Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF) [SCOTUSblog]
Senator Boxer: Elections Have Consequences [YouTube]

Viewer discretion advised. This video clip is very elitist (or “tierist,” as some of you might say, referring to the U.S. News system of ranking law schools in tiers):

Bill Maher New Rule – From Elites to Jesus [YouTube]


Paul McNulty Paul J McNulty Above the Law blog.jpegWe had previously suggested that Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty — who by some accounts is the one who REALLY screwed up in the U.S. Attorneys firing fiasco — might be leaving the Justice Department. It looks like our prediction may come to pass.
Rule No. 1 inside the Beltway: “If they don’t deny it, then it’s true.” (Rule No. 2: “Even if they do deny it, it’s probably still true.”)
Applying Rule No. 1, Paul McNulty is leaving the DOJ. From the BLT:

Is Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty looking for a new job? Yes, said the Wall Street Journal yesterday, citing “people familiar” with his plans. McNulty himself was a bit more sanguine, telling the Journal he was “fully focused on doing my job and haven’t given much thought to what comes next.”

McNulty chose not to knock the story down today. During a brief interview with Legal Times following a speech to a legal panel about the Thompson Memo and corporate fraud, McNulty was asked if he was looking for a new job. McNulty responded, after a pause: “I can’t answer that.”

If you have any thoughts about who might be up for the thankless task of serving as DAG for the last 21 months of the Bush Administration, we welcome them in the comments. (We throw the considerable weight of Above the Law behind the Prom Queen.)
McNulty Can’t Say If He’s Staying [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
Gonzales Deputy, in Crossfire, Looks for Quiet Exit [Wall Street Journal]
Earlier: Paul McNulty: It’s All His Fault

musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFSome notable moves within the legal profession:
Government to Private Sector:
* Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, to LeBoeuf Lamb in DC. Last November, Steele lost his bid to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate.
* Michele Hirshman, who served as Eliot Spitzer’s top deputy at the Attorney General’s office before he became Governor, is joining Paul Weiss, as a litigation partner. Described by the New York Times as “very smart, very tough and rather short,” she sounds perfectly diva-licious.
Lateral Moves:
* Antitrust superstar Charles “Rick” Rule, to Cadwalader, from Fried Frank. This truly IS like musical chairs: Cadwalader, Rule’s new home, recently lost its antitrust group to Skadden.
* Celebrated criminal defense lawyer Abbe Lowell — who did an excellent job defending Hamlet against murder charges — is moving from Chadbourne & Parke to McDermott Will & Emery.
* Mark Holscher and Jeffrey Sinek are joining the Los Angeles office of Kirkland & Ellis. They’re coming from O’Melveny & Myers and Thelen Reid, respectively. From the Law Blog:

Holscher and Sinek are best friends. They were roommates when they served as federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. Holscher, 44, served as an assistant U.S. Attorney from 1989-1995; Sinek, 46, served from 1989 to 1994. Sinek was the best man at Holscher’s wedding; Holscher was a groomsman in Sinek’s. Both graduated from Boalt Hall law school. Holscher told the Law Blog they’ve always wanted to work together.

Alexandra Korry small Alexandra D Korry Above the Law blog.jpgSuch ambiguously gay commentary led an anonymous reader to quip: “Hope that Alexandra Korry doesn’t read about this…”
On The Move: Charles “Rick” Rule [Antitrust Review]
Kirkland Beefs Up West Coast White-Collar Practice [WSJ Law Blog]
Abbe Lowell to Join McDermott from Chadbourne [WSJ Law Blog]
Former Maryland Pol Michael Steele Joins LeBoeuf Lamb [WSJ Law Blog]
Spitzer’s Longtime No. 2 Michele Hirshman to Join Paul Weiss [WSJ Law Blog]

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgWe are very, very excited. The magnificent Monica Goodling, the former Justice Department lawyer involved in the controverisal U.S. Attorney firings, may be coming to our living room!
Alas, Goodling won’t be visiting us in person (although we hereby issue her a standing invitation). But we’re hopeful that she’ll be appearing on our television, via C-SPAN, in the near future. From Fox News:

The House Judiciary Committee is set to vote on whether to grant Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ former counsel immunity from prosecution and force her to testify about the firings of eight federal prosecutors.

“I am hopeful we can approve immunity so that we can schedule her to testify as soon as possible and begin to clear up the many inconsistencies and gaps surrounding this matter,” Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., said in a statement Tuesday.

A two-thirds vote of the panel is required to approve the resolution, which would direct the House counsel to apply to U.S. District Court for a grant of immunity for Monica Goodling, Conyers’ statement said.

We urge the House Judiciary Committee to approve immunity, so Monica Goodling can be beamed into the homes of millions of Americans.
Meanwhile, in other Goodling-related news, one of you drew our attention to an interesting article about her alma mater, Regent University School of Law. It’s a bit dated, but there’s a hook: it’s by Charlie Savage, who just won a Pulitzer for his coverage of President Bush’s use of signing statements. Congratulations, Charlie!
It’s an excellent read. Here are the last two paragraphs:

One third-year [Regent law] student, Chamie Riley, said she rejected the idea that any government official who invokes her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination could be a good representative of Regent.

As Christians, she said, Regent students know “you should be morally upright. You should not be in a situation where you have to plead the Fifth.”

Bite your tongue, Chamie Riley! You are not fit to hold Monica Goodling’s red Solo cup.
House Panel to Vote on Immunity for Gonzales Aide, Monica Goodling [Fox News]
Scandal puts spotlight on Christian law school [Boston Globe]
Earlier: Prior (adoring) ATL coverage of Monica Goodling (scroll down)

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGThis is the rather belated update to our earlier report on the clerkship bonus policies of large law firms. We apologize for the delay, and we thank you for your patience and your tips.
A summary of our findings:

1. No large law firm has matched the new Sullivan & Cromwell clerkship bonus of $50,000 for one clerkship, at least as far as we’ve been able to confirm.

(a) But if you have two years of clerkship experience, think about Weil Gotshal. They would pay you a bonus of $70,000 ($35,000 x 2).

(b) In saying that no big firm has matched S&C, we aren’t counting Kellogg Huber, which pays a $100,000 clerkship bonus, and Susman Godfrey, which pays a $50,000 clerkship bonus, since they’re really boutiques.

(c) We aren’t counting intellectual property firms, some of whom pay $70,000 bonuses for Federal Circuit clerkships, because they are a world unto themselves.

2. Any firm worth its salt should offer a clerkship bonus of at least $35,000. This is what numerous big firms already do, and it should be considered the “market” rate. A bonus of anything less than $35K is chintzy and lame.

A firm-by-firm rundown, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skaddenfreude: A Clerkship Bonus Special Report”

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]

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