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

Yes, we did catch Judge Marjorie O. Rendell on the Food Network earlier this week (see screenshot above). As we previously mentioned, she recently appeared on Dinner: Impossible, in her capacity as First Lady of Pennsylvania.

Chef Robert Invine was given a challenging task. He was directed “to prepare a stately array of hors d’oeuvres,” to be served at the Inaugural Ball of Judge Rendell’s husband, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell.

The number of guests: 4,000. The amount of time available to him: 24 hours. Despite the difficulty of the project, Chef Irvine completed his mission.

But we were a little disappointed with the episode, for a number of reasons….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Advice for Clerkship Seekers: Bring Duck and Apple Wontons to Your Interview With Judge Rendell”

Mayer Brown Rowe Maw 2 table Above the Law blog.jpg
“Okay everyone, smile and say “De-Equitized!”
Lavi Soloway didn’t caption the photographs he took at last night’s LeGal dinner. So we decided to help him out.
More photos, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Photos from Last Night’s LeGal Dinner”

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGAs we head into another weekend, here’s the latest LIST OF SHAME. We’re down to only five firms (Vault 100 ranking on the left, AmLaw 100 ranking on the right):
43. Baker & McKenzie (3)
82. Reed Smith (33)
83. Dorsey & Whitney (68)
86. McGuireWoods (65)
100. Seyfarth Shaw (66)
If any of these firms doesn’t belong on the list, please email us, with supporting documentation (if any).
Please discuss other salary developments in the comments to this post. Thanks.

Anthony Kennedy Justice Anthony M Kennedy Above the Law blog.jpgWe thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at last night’s Kennedy Center event, The Trial of Hamlet, presided over by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. It was highly entertaining and quite educational, on a number of subjects: Hamlet, literary criticism, psychiatry, and the art of advocacy, among others.
We’re planning to write more about the evening later. For now, we’ll give you the bottom line: Who won?
The prosecution team consisted of Miles Ehrlich, a former federal prosecutor (and law clerk to Justice Kennedy), and Cristina Arguedas, a California criminal defense attorney. Hamlet was represented by Abbe Lowell, the prominent D.C. defense lawyer, and Catherine Crier, a Court TV host and former Texas state judge. The defense argued that Hamlet should not be held criminally responsible for the killing of Polonius by reason of insanity.
After testimony from psychiatric experts and arguments from counsel, the jury of 12 retired to deliberate. In the end, they emerged deadlocked, voting 6-6 in the case. After receiving the jury’s verdict, Justice Kennedy, without missing a beat, said something like, “Hamlet, please rise. I hereby remand you to the pages of literature, where you will continue to intrigue us for centuries to come….”
Justice Kennedy’s “remand” speech was so eloquent that it sounded scripted. Many audience members were left wondering whether the outcome was rigged — whether the jury was going to be a hung jury no matter what, in order to demonstrate the complexity, ambiguity, and richness of Hamlet as a literary text.
As it turns out, however, the jury vote was NOT rigged. They truly were deadlocked, by the end of their deliberation time (which, due to the schedule for the evening, was admittedly not that long).
And don’t blame Justice Kennedy for their indecision! While the jury was deliberating, AMK was moderating a discussion about the play with the participants in the trial, in front of the Kennedy Center audience.
Despite the frustratingly ambiguous verdict — we must admit, we like our entertainment with closure — we had a good time. More discussion will follow later. If you attended and have thoughts to share, please feel free to email us.
Sane or not, Hamlet a hit in Washington trial [Reuters]
Earlier: Justice Kennedy and The Trial of Hamlet

Ty Clevenger, a former attorney in the Special Litigation Section (“SPL”) of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is the one who got the ball rolling with respect to colorful anecdotes about Shanetta Cutlar, the charismatic and strong-willed chief of the Section.
Clevenger sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty raising concerns about Cutlar’s leadership of SPL. Shortly thereafter, Clevenger was effectively fired by Cutlar the next day.
As for Clevenger’s letter, the DAG assigned it to Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, for a response. Earlier this month, Clevenger received the following from Wan Kim:
Wan Kim Wan J Kim Ty Clevenger letter Above the Law blog.JPG
Letters to McDonald’s, complaining about insufficient mintiness in Shamrock Shakes,* receive responses evincing greater concern.
Now we understand why Shanetta Cutlar was comfortable enough in her position to wear a tiara to a recent meeting of DOJ section chiefs. We predict she will remain in power at SPL long after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has left the building (which may not be saying much — but you get our point).
* Yes, Shamrock Shakes are back! We enjoyed one in Miami earlier this week.

Cinderella glass slipper Aaron Brett Charney Above the Law blog.jpgMore fine blogging from Lavi Soloway — although his latest material is related only indirectly to Aaron Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell.
Remember LeGal, the gay and lesbian lawyers’ association that got itself into a bit of controversy after its (now former) president, Jack Scheich, came out swinging in favor of S&C?
Well, last night LeGal held its big annual dinner. At this gala event, big law firms cough up dough for insurance against anti-gay bias lawsuits tables to show their support for the organization. (We wrote previously about the hideous invitation for the dinner over here.)
We weren’t able to attend last night’s festivities, ’cause we were spending quality time with Justice Kennedy. But Lavi Soloway was there. His party write-up, with photos, appears here.
There was a rumor floating around, several weeks ago, that Aaron Charney was going to make an appearance at the LeGal dinner. We were, for obvious reasons, excited about this possibility. It might have given rise to some deliciously awkward moments — since his former employer and current adversary, S&C, bought a table and turned out in force.
Alas, based on Soloway’s coverage, it appears the answer to “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?” was “Not Aaron Charney.” If Charney had been there, surely Soloway — who knows what Charney looks like, having seen him at the big hearing earlier this week — would have mentioned it.
So what happened to poor Aaron? Was he stuck at home, scrubbing floors like Cinderella, while his mean S&C stepsisters danced the night away at the Ritz-Carlton?
Looking ahead, will the Aaron Charney saga have a fairy tale ending? Might Charney’s newfound fame bring him to the attention of a sugar daddy Prince Charming — a boyfriend so rich he can afford to drop his lawsuit against S&C? Will S&C break down and settle the case, placing a glass slipper on Charney’s (presumably large) foot,* thereby transforming him from an unemployed ex-Biglaw associate into a millionaire plaintiff princess?
To find out the answers, just stay tuned to ATL. We will continue to cover even the most trivial developments in this litigation with obsessive zeal.
* We speculate that Charney has large feet because we hear that he’s tall and thin — as you can sort of see from this photo, by Lavi Soloway.
NYC Lesbian & Gay Lawyers Hold Annual Dinner [Soloway]
Earlier: Beware the Ides of March

Aaron Charney 2 headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett CharneyAs we’ve mentioned before, Lavi Soloway has posted some great coverage of yesterday’s hearing in Aaron Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. He offers detailed discussion of the arguments before Justice Bernard Fried, his impressions of them, and original photos.
You can access Soloway’s two posts here and here. They’re well worth your time.
Some excerpts, with commentary from us, appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Brokeback Lawfirm: What A Mess”

Joy Hanson Joy M Hanson Joy Hansen Larry Reeves Lawrence Reeves Laurence Reeves law librarians Above the Law blog.JPGThey can Shepardize like nobody’s business. They know the proper Bluebook form for CCH looseleafs, by heart. And they look really good in swimwear.

After announcing our Law Librarian Hotties contest, we received lengthy string cites of bookish beauties. From these nominees, we came up with slates of thirteen lovely ladies and six gorgeous guys.

After a first round of voting, we held runoff elections. And now, we proudly announce the winners.

Congratulations to the two hottest law librarians in America:




The runoff votes weren’t exactly suspenseful. Both Reeves and Hanson won by sizable margins:

Law Librarian Hotties Hottest Legal Librarian contest results Above the Law blog.JPG

No photo finish here; but the results strike us as eminently fair. Congratulations to our two deserving victors!

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of law librarian hotties (scroll down)

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGWe didn’t receive this information from a verified source at the firm, so please treat it as unconfirmed. We’re going to fact-check this information “blog-style”: we’re going to throw it out there, then wait for somebody to tell us it’s wrong (or to confirm it).
Anyway, here it is, from an email from an anonymous source:

On Tuesday, Williams & Connolly LLP raised its salaries across the board, retroactive to January 1. Starting salary for first-years is now $165,000.

1st years: 165,000.
2nd years: 180,000.
3rd years: 195,000.
4th years: 210,000.
5th years: 225,000.
6th years: 245,000.
7th years: 265,000.

You’ll note that these numbers are higher, at least in the most junior years, than what appears to be the new standard for Washington: 145/155/170/190. They’re also higher, at least in the first three years, than the new NYC scale (which also applies to the D.C. offices of New York firms): 160/170/185.
But this is consistent with the Williams & Connolly pay scale of years past. Their base salaries are somewhat higher than market; but they don’t pay year-end bonuses.
As noted, if you know this information to be incorrect — or if, on the other hand, you can confirm — please email us. Thanks!
Update: The information appearing above, concerning Williams & Connolly, has been confirmed.

Conrad Black Above the Law blog.jpgFormer media magnate Conrad Black is currently on trial in federal court in Chicago. Lord Black (at right) stands accused of fraud, racketeering, tax violations, obstruction of justice, and money laundering — serious stuff. He’s being defended by Edward Greenspan, one of Canada’s most colorful trial attorneys.
Greenspan — who went to law school with Black, by the way — can already claim the distinction of being “among Canada’s most famous lawyers.” And now “Fast Eddie” can add a new prize to his mantle: ATL Lawyer of the Day!!!
Greenspan recently got benchslapped in open court by a judicial hottie — and he clearly deserves some recognition for this achievement. For the gory details, we refer you to our big sibling, DealBreaker.
Congratulations, Mr. Greenspan! We look forward to more antics from you as the trial progresses.
Conrad Black Defense’s Routine Needs Tweaking [DealBreaker]
Où est Monsieur Black? [DealBreaker]

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