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

Columbia Law School CLS Above the Law blog.jpgAs we previously mentioned, we will be speaking at Columbia Law School next week, at the kind invitation of the Columbia Federalist Society.
Our talk is open to the public, so feel free to stop by if you’re in the area. Here are the details:

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

As one CLS student pointed out to us, our talk unfortunately overlaps (in part) with the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court finals, scheduled from 4 PM to 6 PM. If you’d like to go to the Moot Court first, please feel free to sneak into our talk late. Needless to say, considering the star-studded bench — which we also plan to watch in action before heading off for our event — we won’t be offended by tardy arrivals.
Update: We’re happy to report that the time of our talk has been changed. We are now speaking at 6 PM, so there’s no need to choose between us and Moot Court.
Hope to see you next week!

Ring the alarm! This just in, from the Harvard Crimson:

Harvard Law Review Above the Law blog.gifThe Harvard Law Review is cited less and less in decisions by federal courts, in keeping with a trend across several major law reviews, according to a study published last month by staff at the Cardozo Law Review of Yeshiva University.

The researchers found that the Harvard journal was cited 4,410 times in federal courts during the 1970s, but only 1,956 in the 1990s, and 937 so far in this decade—despite an increase in the number of cases brought to courts.

It’s ’cause judges are citing Wikipedia so much these days — plus all those darn blogs….
Fewer Cases Cite Harvard Law Review [Harvard Crimson via How Appealing]
When Is It Appropriate to Cite to Wikipedia? [Concurring Opinions]
Courts Citing Blogs [Volokh Conspiracy]

Eric Krautheimer 2 Eric M Krautheimer Aaron Charney Sullivan & Cromwell Above the Law blog.jpgThis is completely unverified — nothing more than total rumor. We’re in the process of following up. But we thought we’d toss it out there, to see if any of you can confirm (or deny).
This is what we’ve heard, from a little bird:

Eric Krautheimer is probably going to be transferred to Sullivan & Cromwell’s L.A. office.”

Because Los Angeles has such different views on gay issues than New York. And out on the distant West Coast, still reachable only by Pony Express, nobody will have heard of this Aaron Charney guy.
As noted, this is UNCONFIRMED. We’ve left messages with Eric Krautheimer, S&C chairman H. Rodgin Cohen, and a firm spokesperson. We haven’t heard back from any of them. But if and when we do, you’ll be the first to know.
Do you have inside information about the truth (or lack thereof) of this item? If so, please email us (subject line: “Eric Krautheimer”). Thanks.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Eric Krautheimer (scroll down)

tweety bird Ruth Bader Ginsburg Justice Ginsburg Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve been learning all sorts of things about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lately. Like her history as a high school cheerleader (which is, by the way, a perilous pursuit).
And now we learn her secret nickname at One First Street. From the Washington Examiner:

Anyone who has seen Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg knows that, although she’s big on law, she’s short on physical stature. Some of the employees who work around her in the Supreme Court Building find her diminutive size rather endearing and have taken to calling her Little Tweety Bird, a moniker they use only within their small circle.

But, lest you think that Ginsburg might rule such a nickname as “out of order,” that same circle insists that it’s a kind nickname, and one meant to reflect the notion that they feel very protective of Ginsburg.

Does that make Justice Scalia into Sylvester the Cat? Probably not. Justices Scalia and Ginsburg are close personal friends. They share a love of opera, and their families sometimes spend New Year’s Eve together.
We nominate Justice Thomas for the role of Sylvester the Cat. In the 1947 cartoon Tweetie Pie, the Sylvester the Cat character went by the name “Thomas.” MEOW!
A nickname for Ginsburg [Washington Examiner / Yeas and Nays]

We don’t write much about American Idol. We leave that subject to the experts, like Ann Althouse.
(You can read Professor Althouse’s take on last night’s show over here. Also, she shares our admiration for Sanjaya Malakar. Read her persuasive defense of Malakar over here.)
Today, however, we have a legal angle for writing about Idol. We have a video clip to pass along.
It’s already been nicely summarized by Vote For the Worst, a website that urges its readers to vote for the Idol that the website creators view as the least talented. So we’ll just quote from their blurb:

This is hysterical. On The O’Reilly Factor, civil litigator Danielle Aidala makes incredibly stupid arguments about how she could sue this website. The arguments are actually even stupider than the rationale from the 12 year olds who write to us, so it’s a pretty funny way to waste five minutes if you’re bored.

And here’s the video. It’s also up on YouTube, where it’s described as follows: “Danielle Aidala is a babe.”
(We agree with that sentiment — which may explain how Aidala wound up on Fox News. Fox seems to specialize in giving airtime to attractive female commentators with, umm, provocative or contrarian views.)
P.S. Danielle Aidala, in case you’re wondering, went to NYU for undergrad and Fordham for law school. Here’s her New York Times wedding announcement. She is not to be confused with Dianna Abdala, of “bla bla bla” fame.

Idiot Lawyer Danielle Aidala Thinks VFTW/Stern Can Be Successfully Sued [VoteForTheWorst.com]
Howard Stern / shock jocks helping Sanjaya stay on the show [YouTube]
“American Idol” — the final 9 [Althouse]
“Malakar is the rare male performer who relies so utterly on styling.” [Althouse]

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgThe House Democrats just won’t leave Monica Goodling alone. Even after the Justice Department lawyer invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege, the Dems still want to have a little “conversation” with her. From the NYT:

House Democrats on Tuesday requested a private interview with an aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales who has asserted her constitutional right not to testify at a public hearing about the dismissals of United States attorneys.

Representative John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sought the interview in a letter to a lawyer for the aide, Monica Goodling, who is on leave as the Justice Department’s liaison to the White House…. Mr. Conyers’s letter said that House lawyers wanted to question Ms. Goodling to evaluate the legality of her refusal to testify. It said she could not assert the privilege as a blanket justification not to appear.

Look, guys, she’s just not that into you. Can’t you just leave her alone? Go beat up on Kyle Sampson some more — we think he still has some lunch money left in his pockets.
(Our suspicion: Chairman Conyers wants to offer Goodling a babysitting job. ‘Cause John Conyers loves making lawyers babysit his children. He thinks the kids absorb legal knowledge by osmosis. And he’s heard about Goodling’s legendary brownies!)
Meanwhile, over at the WSJ Law Blog, Peter Lattman gets in a cheap double entendre at Monica’s expense:
Monica Goodling Congressional Democrats to Goodling Unzip It Monica M Goodling Above the Law blog.jpg
Are we this poor woman’s only defenders?
Democrats Seek to Interview Gonzales Aide [New York Times]
Congressional Democrats to Goodling: Unzip It! [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Monica Goodling (scroll down)

Kiwi Camara KAD Camara Above the Law blog.jpgYesterday we issued a request for information about what really happened between controversial legal scholar Kiwi Camara and George Mason University School of Law. GMU was on the verge of hiring Camara, until something weird happened.
Today one of you emailed us the video clip below, and asked: “Could it be because of this video?”
Seriously, we’re pretty sure this video — a promotional spot for the debate team Camara coaches, and NOT a homemade sex video — had no impact upon Camara’s job search. But it’s still weirdly amusing. And we don’t think that Camara, of all people, should be caught on camera saying “Yo whassup!” in an accent reminiscent of the “jive talk” scene from Airplane.






From the description of the clip on Google Video: “Kiwi Camara, Mountain View/Los Altos Debate squad coach acts a little weird…”                

Kiwi Camara Acts A Little Weird [Google Video]
Earlier: Kiwi Camara and GMU Law: What Happened Here?

ATL’s March Madness, our quest to crown America’s coolest law school, is entering the home stretch. Please decide which pair of law schools will emerge victorious from the Final Four:
Update: The box on the left that says “undefined” used to contain the NYU-Michigan poll. To learn why the poll was pulled, click here.

crybaby crying kid cry tear tears Above the Law blog.jpgThat’s what the student group discussed in this WSJ Law Blog post should be renamed.
Here’s our candid take. A lot of what these students are looking for — in terms of reduced hours and improved work-life balance, in exchange for a smaller paycheck — already exists. It can be found by working for a midsize or small law firm, working for government, working as in-house counsel, or starting your own practice.
But it’s futile to try and export these principles to large law firms. There’s a reason they call it “Biglaw.” If you want the money and prestige of working for an AmLaw 100 law firm, you need to make sacrifices.
The members of Law Students Building A Better Legal Profession may respond: “Well, we ARE willing to make sacrifices. As we state in our manifesto, ‘We are willing to be paid less in exchange for a better working life.’”
Okay, fine. So why don’t you hang up your own shingle, or go work for a midsize or boutique law firm? We hear Gallion & Spielvogel is accepting resumes.
In other words: Why do you feel entitled to a specific work/life balance in the context of a large law firm? Why can’t you just practice in some other professional context? Or leave the law altogether if you find something you enjoy more?
News flash: there is life, and legal practice, outside of the AmLaw or Vault 100. Hundreds of thousands of American lawyers work as solo practitioners, for midsize or small firms, for in-house legal departments, or for state or federal government. They have happy professional and personal lives. They earn enough to feed themselves — and even their kids, too.
But if some attorneys WANT to work 2500+ hours a year, never see their families, and go through multiple divorces, in exchange for seven-figure paydays, who are you to spoil their fun?
Maybe you don’t enjoy smoking, or drinking, or sky-diving. But if these activities don’t affect you — secondhand smoke isn’t that much of a problem, thanks to indoor smoking bans — then you should let other people engage in them.
Live and let live, we say. Live and let live.
You Say You Want a Big-Law Revolution [WSJ Law Blog]
Law Students Building A Better Legal Profession [official website]

Kiwi Camara KAD Camara Above the Law blog.jpgToday’s Washington Post has an update on controversial legal scholar Kiwi Camara (at right). Camara, you may recall, is the legal Doogie Howser who was 16 when he entered Harvard Law School. At HLS, he caused an uproar after dropping the N-bomb in a group outline. (That’s the Cliffs Notes version; Google him for more.)
From the Post:

Camara, a native Filipino who grew up in Hawaii and enrolled at Harvard Law School at age 16, had been on track to become an assistant professor at George Mason University’s law school. But his candidacy was derailed after the law school’s dean, Daniel D. Polsby, publicized the possible appointment so he could hear what students had to say before making a final decision.

But Camara’s appointment wasn’t scuttled because of the town hall meeting. That meeting never took place:

At George Mason’s law school, the faculty had authorized Polsby to hire Camara as an assistant professor, but the dean wanted to first see what students, alumni and others thought. He scheduled a town hall meeting for last night, but the meeting was nixed after Camara’s application was withdrawn.

Why was Camara’s application withdrawn? Did it have anything to do with his controversial past? A tipster tells us no:

It has come to my attention that the derailment of Kiwi Camara’s appointment as associate professor at GMU did not occur because of his checkered past. Rather, there appears to be an independent reason, but insiders have refused to reveal what that is. I am not sure if it is worth soliciting info on this from the abovethelaw readership, but I thought I would pass it on to you.

Yes, it is worth soliciting info on this. If you know what REALLY happened with respect to Kiwi Camara and GMU, please email us (subject line: “Kiwi Camara”). Thanks.
P.S. Take a spin through Camara’s official website, which is a trifle self-important and/or oddly amusing in places.
Racist Writing as a Teen Haunted GMU Candidate [Washington Post]
K.A.D. Camara [official website]
Kiwi Camara [Wikipedia]

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