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

law school 2b tournament brackets.GIFIf you’re tired of endlessly arguing over which law school is best, we have a suggestion for you: Cast your vote in ATL’s Law School March Madness!!!
We’ll close the second round of the tournament on Tuesday, April 3, at 3 PM (Eastern time). The law schools in the lead at that point in time will become your Final Four.
To vote in the Chicago-Georgetown or UVA-Stanford contests, click here. To vote in the NYU-Columbia or Texas-Michigan contests, click here. To review the brackets, click on the thumbnail on the right.
Good luck!
Earlier: ATL March Madness: Law Schools, Round 2 (Part 1)
ATL March Madness: Law Schools, Round 2 (Part 2)

Jennifer Elrod 2 Judge Jennifer W Elrod Fifth Circuit Texas Above the Law blog.jpgAs we mentioned yesterday, Judge Jennifer W. Elrod, a state trial court judge in Texas, has been nominated to the Fifth Circuit. The Texas Lawyer has an interesting article about Judge Elrod:

Houston lawyers who have tried cases before [Judge Elrod] say she has earned a reputation as a fair and smart state district judge.

“I think the most disappointing factor about her getting nominated is losing her off the bench in Harris County,” says Stephen Boutros, a Houston plaintiffs attorney.

“She often won’t rule in my favor, but it doesn’t matter,” says Boutros of Stephen Boutros LTD. “I would rate her the top judge I’ve ever been in front of. She understands the law. She can get a grasp of the issues in a matter of moments as if it were her own case.”

Boutros believes Elrod has the potential to follow in the footsteps of [Judge Patrick] Higgonbotham — a seasoned and respected judge who was a moderating force on the 5th Circuit — a court known as one of the most conservative federal appellate courts in the nation.

“She’s going to be an absolute centrist,” Boutros says. “She is intellectually honest and she’s not an ideologue.”

Judge Elrod sounds like a great pick. Our only disappointment: that President Bush didn’t nominate this Jennifer Elrod instead.
(But then again, in terms of qualifications for the Fifth Circuit, a JD from Harvard Law is probably more relevant than a 36D from Boobs ‘R Us.)
P.S. To those of you who think that we overuse the term “diva,” please note that we have NOT applied the term to Jennifer Elrod. Based on what we’ve heard, she’s extremely nice and down-to-earth, with a great sense of humor.
190th District Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod Nominated to 5th Circuit [Texas Lawyer]
Earlier: Some Judicial Nomination News

US News World Report law school rankings ratings Above the Law blog.jpgWe even got you a gift: the newest U.S. News & World Report law school rankings!
We previously linked to coverage at several other blogs of the USNWR rankings, which were leaked earlier in the week. But now the official rankings are available to all, both on the magazine’s website and at newsstands.
Enjoy!
America’s Best Law Schools (2008) [U.S. News & World Report]

Cobra Kai Kobre Kim Above the Law blog.jpgThe legal ninjas of Cobra Kai Kobre & Kim are coming after our friends at DealBreaker. Yikes.
Good luck, guys! We’re pulling for you.
P.S. Our esteemed colleague, DealBreaker editor John Carney, is also a lawyer (who practiced at Skadden for several years). So he’s not as easily intimidated by scary lawyer letters as most other blog editors.
Update: Filing lawsuits against bloggers — all the cool kids are doing it!
Solengo Seeks Court Order To Strip DealBreaker Of Brochure [DealBreaker]
As Pitch Leaks to Web, a Hedge Fund Wants Quiet [DealBook]
Earlier: Will Our Big Sibling Get Sued?

Gandolfo DiBlasi 2 Vincent DiBlasi Gandolfo V DiBlasi Vince DiBlasi Above the Law Blog.JPGIn an interesting article in today’s Gay City News, Professor Arthur Leonard discusses the whole “Nazi-gate” controversy surrounding Sullivan & Cromwell partner Gandolfo “Vince” DiBlasi (at right).
Much of the article will be familiar to those who have been following the case closely. But here’s some good background (which previously surfaced in the comments, but merits highlighting here):

Explaining why he was so frightened that he destroyed [his] computer, Aaron Charney testified: “And when we got to the Penn Club, the content of that meeting and the threats that Mr. DiBlasi made invoking the fact that the firm had represented the Nazis and how — that nobody cared, and that people wrote a book about them representing the Nazis and no one cared.”…

Several books have discussed allegations that during the 1930s Sullivan & Cromwell attorneys were involved in representing businesses with interests in Nazi Germany, most prominently a 1994 book by John Loftus and Mark Aarons titled The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People.

Over at his blog, Professor Leonard offers more free-form reflections. Check out his breathlessly posed questions, which nicely capture the soap opera that the Charney case has become:

Why would anybody in the position of Gandolfo DiBlasi make any reference to S&C’s past representation of “the Nazis” – knowing that somebody in the room was taking notes – even if he believed that the meeting was covered by a promise of confidentiality? Will DiBlasi deny under oath that he said any such thing?… Will [Gera] Grinberg, whose job and residence in the US may be at stake, deny that DiBlasi said it? Will [Edward] Gallion, who was in the pay of S&C but owed his fiduciary duty to his client Grinberg and not to the source of his compensation, as these duties are parsed out under the ethical rules? And what motive could Charney have for making this up? Who is writing the script for this thriller? And will Sir Ian play “Gandolfo” in the docudrama…..???

Excellent queries. We look forward to finding out the answers in the weeks ahead.
Charney: S&C Waved Its Nazi Past [Gay City News]
The Latest Charney Sensation [Leonard Link]

Jonas Blank Skadden Arps Above the Law blog.jpgRemember Jonas Blank? He was the fellow who, while working at Skadden Arps as a summer associate in 2003, sent out this infamous email:

“I’m busy doing jack shit. Went to a nice 2hr sushi lunch today at Sushi Zen. Nice place. Spent the rest of the day typing emails and bullshitting with people. Unfortunately, I actually have work to do — I’m on some corp finance deal, under the global head of corp finance, which means I should really peruse these materials and not be a fuckup…”

“So yeah, Corporate Love hasn’t worn off yet… But just give me time…”

Despite this problematic email — which he meant to send to one friend, but instead sent to the firm’s entire underwriting group, partners included — Blank went on to full-time employment at Skadden after graduating from Harvard Law.

After several (no doubt thrilling) years at Skadden, Blank — accurately described by the New Yorker as “handsome” (see photo) — is moving on.* As reported by the Skadden Insider blog, next month Blank will be starting work as an associate at Richards, Kibbe & Orbe. We wish him the best of luck.

P.S. If you haven’t done so already, check out Skadden Insider, which started up in January. Here is its mission statement:

Welcome to the Skadden Insider, a blog created to collect and pass along (and sometimes comment on) the gossip and news making its way through the halls of a certain law firm’s offices. Whether its New York, Boston, Washington DC or Palo Alto, Skadden Insider will be your place to read the latest.

May similar blogs sprout up for every large law firm in the land! Especially Sullivan & Cromwell.

* If it appears in the New Yorker, you KNOW it’s true, because their fact-checking process is second-to-none. For purposes of this Talk of the Town item, a New Yorker fact-checker asked us: “Is it fair to say that you have ‘a boyish face’?” So presumably some recent Ivy League grad with literary aspirations had to ask Jonas Blank: “Do you consider yourself to be handsome?”

Jonas Has Left the Building [Skadden Insider]
OOPS [New Yorker / Talk of the Town]
Jonas Blank [Friendster]

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgWe were planning to do a quick write-up on the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of Kyle Sampson. But many such write-ups have already been done. And the Sampson testimony, while it had its moments, wasn’t quite as exciting as we were hoping.
So forget about the decidedly unglamorous Kyle Sampson, accurately described by Emily Bazelon as “sweaty, nervous, and soft-spoken.” Let’s talk about a more exciting and dynamic personality, the real breakout star of U.S. Attorney-gate to date:

MONICA GOODLING!!!

Today brings two new, juicy profiles of Monica M. Goodling — one from the Washington Post, and one from the Harrisburg Patriot-News. They contain a lot of interesting material.
Discussion and links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Monica Goodling: Diva Is As Diva Does”

Solengo Capital Dealbreaker Above the Law blog.jpgOur big sibling, the Wall Street tabloid DealBreaker.com, obtained and posted a promotional brochure for Solengo Capital, the new hedge fund being launched by former traders at the ill-fated Amaranth Advisors. Amaranth, you may recall, accomplished the impressive feat of losing $6 billion in a single week, before breathing its last.
Apparently the Solengo Capital folks weren’t thrilled about the free publicity. After DealBreaker didn’t comply with its request to take down the brochure, Solengo had its lawyers at Kobra Kai Kobre & Kim send out a mean letter. And that’s where things currently stand (no summons and complaint just yet).
Update: It looks like that lawsuit is on its way.
Anyway, if you have some free legal advice thoughts to offer on this matter, we welcome them in the comments.
P.S. As for why Solengo is so hot ‘n bothered over all this, here’s one theory.
Solengo Capital coverage (scroll down) [DealBreaker]
Ex-Amaranth traders ask blogs to remove materials [Reuters]

Time for a few updates on a subject near and dear to our heart, which we’ve been neglecting as of late: federal judicial nominations. Here’s the latest news:
Jennifer Elrod Judge Jennifer W Elrod Above the Law blog.jpg1. Texas state court judge Jennifer Elrod (at right), whom we previously identified as a possible nominee to the Fifth Circuit (and compared to Jennifer Aniston), has been officially nominated to that court. We’ve heard good things about Judge Elrod and wish her the best of luck in the confirmation process.
2. Connecticut state court judge Vanessa Bryant, discussed previously here, has been confirmed to the District of Connecticut.
3. Earlier this month, the White House sent a raft of judicial nominations over to the Senate. Nothing terribly exciting.
The two most controversial nominees in the bunch: state court judge Janet Neff (D. Mich.), and trial lawyer Richard Honaker (D. Wyo.). They may generate opposition on opposite sides of the aisle. Neff got a lot of grief from the conservative Sen. Sam Brownback for having attended a lesbian commitment ceremony. Honaker may be targeted by liberals for his record of strong opposition to abortion.
Here’s a random bit of trivia about Honaker: he was a Harvard classmate of Al Franken. If Honaker runs into opposition from liberals (despite being a trial lawyer and card-carrying member of ATLA), will Franken testify in his defense before the Senate Judiciary Committee?
(The article also mentions Billy Crystal, but we don’t believe Billy Crystal went to Harvard.)
Update: HA! The Billy Crystal mystery is revealed. Check out this comment.
Nomination Sent to the Senate [WhiteHouse.gov]
Nominations Confirmed [Senate.gov via How Appealing]
Nominations Sent to the Senate [WhiteHouse.gov]
Harris County civil judge nominated to federal bench [Houston Chronicle]
Bush renominates five Michiganians to federal judgeships [Detroit News]
Thomas announces judgeship nomination for Rock Springs lawyer [Casper Star-Tribune via How Appealing]

Arthur Miller Professor Arthur R Miller Above the Law blog.jpgOh no he didn’t… Oh yes he did! Check out this account of yesterday’s Supreme Court argument, by the AP:

Longtime Harvard law professor Arthur Miller (at right)… was arguing on behalf of shareholders who want to sue companies for fraud. Miller is a frequent television commentator, prolific writer and possibly the inspiration for an abrasive professor in a popular account of life at Harvard.

Justice Antonin Scalia and Miller were contemporaries at Harvard Law School in the late 1950s. Miller graduated in 1958, two years ahead of Scalia.

Scalia clearly was on the side of the companies, chiming in from time to time to make Miller’s difficult task a bit harder.

After one remark, Miller let loose: “Is that because you never met a plaintiff you really liked?”

OUCH. And it must have been ten times better in person:

There was laughter and an “ooh” from spectators. Justices Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas laughed for several seconds, even after arguments resumed.

Miller, perhaps sensing he crossed a line, quickly added, “I took a liberty there with the justice.”

You sure did, Professor Miller — but it could have been worse. E.g.: “Yo mama is so stupid, she relies on legislative history!”
Scalia and Harvard Law Professor Trade Barbs in Court [AP via Law.com]

Page 494 of 20741...490491492493494495496497498...2074