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

Yeah, we know — quelle surprise. Or, less delicately, “No s**t, Sherlock.”
Anyway, here’s the data, from a poll in which almost 1500 votes were tallied:
ATL poll results Clarence Thomas Justice Clarence Thomas Above the Law blog.JPG
As one of you noted, the results basically form an inverted bell curve. Over 56 percent of respondents clustered at the extremes: “Very Unfavorable” (30.6 percent) was the most popular choice, followed by “Very Favorable” (25.9 percent).
Speaking of SCOTUS-related polls, there’s still time left for you to vote on whether $200,000 bonuses for Supreme Court clerks are too high, too low, or just right. To vote, click here.
Earlier: Justice Thomas: The Sphinx Breaks His Silence

100 dollar bill Above the Law Above the Law law firm salary legal blog legal tabloid Above the Law.JPGIn a recent post about those gargantuan Supreme Court clerkship bonuses, we mentioned Kellogg Huber, the super-elite D.C. litigation boutique.
The firm’s SCOTUS bonuses are said to hover around market — which is about $200,000 these days. But if you missed out on a Supreme Court clerkship, but managed to land a federal appeals court clerkship, the firm is worth looking into. It pays a bonus of $100,000 to federal circuit court clerks, which is the largest non-SCOTUS clerkship bonus that we’re aware of.
The rest of Kellogg’s compensation package is nothing to sneeze at. The firm pays its associates a base salary of $180,000, plus huge year-end bonuses — closer to Wachtell Lipton bonuses than regular Biglaw bonuses.
(It should be noted, though, that Kellogg associates work hard for the money. The firm can be a bit of a sweatshop.)
With such a compensation scheme in place, Kellogg Huber sat at the top of the Washington legal market for years. But now we’re hearing that, in light of recent pay raises, the firm may not be what it once was.
From a tipster (although not a source currently at the firm, so this may be off in some respects):

The associates [at Kellogg Huber] are utterly mystified because the base salaries at all levels are still $180,000. [T]his is barely even a third-year associate salary elsewhere.

It used to be that the year-end bonuses at Kellogg were out of this world. But now all the other firms have come pretty close to catching up.

In short, Kellogg has not changed its salary structure in years. What used to be top of the market is now actually bottom. Senior associates make more money at pretty much any other firm in Washington than they do at Kellogg.

Is this true? And if so, does the firm have any plans of addressing the situation? If you’re in a position to know, please drop us a line. Thanks.
Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel [official website]
Earlier: Supreme Court Clerks: Do They Live Up to the Hype?

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco Eumi Choi Eumi Choi Above the Law.jpgOne of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys was Kevin Ryan, of the Northern District of California (San Francisco). As noted by the Legal Pad, his firing appears to be one of the less high-profile or controversial ones.
But it’s important to us, since it raises a question about our favorite federal prosecutor:


Eumi Choi served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney under Kevin Ryan. As noted here, a previous paean to her, Choi is “a tough, smart, no-nonsense prosecutrix.”
We’re not the only ones wondering about Choi’s fate. Again, from the Legal Pad:

What’s the deal with Eumi Choi, the No. 2 to ousted U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan?

We’re hearing that the first assistant U.S. attorney has been sent down to be a line prosecutor. Not surprising, given that a new U.S. attorney such as recently appointed interim Scott Schools usually shakes up the top, especially in an office where prosecutors have frequently complained about management.

But Choi didn’t have much to say today when asked whether her job description had changed. She said she’d talk with office spokesman Luke Macaulay about getting us an answer.

This post was from March 5, and we see no subsequent posts about Choi over at the Legal Pad. So does anyone know what Choi is up to these days?
Is it true that she has been demoted? If so, we condemn such a move. Why are people so afraid of strong leadership?
And what about Choi’s search for private sector employment — is it still ongoing? Back in January, The Recorder reported that Choi “has had her resume floating around Silicon Valley for weeks.”
If you have any information about Eumi Choi and what she’s up to these days, please email us. Thanks.
Shred of Truth to Demotion of Ryan’s Sidekick? [Legal Pad]
E-Mails Paint Picture of Ryan’s Firing [Legal Pad]
Direction of Apple Probe Clouded by Shakeups in U.S. Attorney’s Office [The Recorder]
Earlier: How Yummy Is Eumi?
What Part of “Fabulous” Do You Not Understand?

law library librarians hot hottest hotties Above the Law legal blog.JPGIt’s time for a quick housekeeping announcement about our Law Librarian Hotties contest. We’re currently in the middle of runoff votes between the two women and the two men who received the most votes in the first round. If you haven’t voted in the runoffs yet (or if you’d like to change your vote), you can do so by clicking here.
If you’d like to vote, though, don’t delay. We will close the polls tomorrow, Thursday, March 15, at 3 PM (Eastern time).
Right now, neither race is close. But it ain’t over until the results are certified by Katherine Harris. To the four remaining contenders, GOOD LUCK!!!
Earlier: Law Librarian Hotties: It’s Time for a Runoff!

Marjorie Rendell Midge Rendell Judge Marjorie O Rendell Above the Law Blog.jpgIf the answer is no, that’s about to change, as of tonight. A culinarily-minded tipster alerts us:

Tonight at 10:30 EST, the fabulous Judge Midge Rendell will appear on the Food Network. Check out tonight’s episode of Dinner: Impossible:

“Chef Robert Irvine faces his most daunting assignment yet. In a surprise meeting, the governor of Pennsylvania [Ed Rendell] challenges Robert to prepare a stately array of hors d’oeuvres for his Inaugural Ball. In just 24 hours Robert has to create and prepare Pennsylvania delicacies to feed 4,000 attendees!”

Television commercials reveal that Judge Rendell will appear on the show. I suspect that it will be diva-licious!

We agree. And perhaps Judge Rendell, who has given musical guidance to Jon Bon Jovi, can teach Irvine a thing or two about cooking.

If you need to be reminded of this judicial diva’s prowess in the kitchen, we direct you to her nomination blurb as a Superhottie of the Federal Judiciary:

By day, Judge Marjorie O. Rendell of the Third Circuit develops groundbreaking precedents affecting fundamental constitutional rights. By night, First Lady Marjorie “Midge” Rendell of the Governor’s Mansion develops… recipes!

Yes, now you too can whip up a feast consisting of Judge Rendell’s Savory Meatloaf, Broccoli-Chicken Casserole (yummy but fattening — that’s a lot of cream cheese!), Stuffed Mushrooms, and Lowfat Raspberry Souffle. Your Honor, this is delish!

Have any of you — maybe there are some former Rendell clerks among you — sampled Judge Rendell’s cuisine? If so, we’d love to get your firsthand report.

P.S. If you’re such a huge Judge Rendell groupie that you want to see her in person as well as on television, check out this event, taking place in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. It sounds fantastic.

We would have loved to watch the legendary Miguel Estrada and David Rudovsky argue before a star-studded bench. But when we called yesterday to reserve a seat, we were informed that seats are no longer available.

If you hang around outside the entrance, though, maybe you can catch a glimpse of judicial hottie Rendell as she enters or exits the building. Good luck!

Dinner: Impossible [Food Network]
Peter Jennings Project: Law and Order in 2015: A Case Set in the Future [National Constitution Center]
Judge Marjorie O. Rendell bio [FJC]

Earlier: Judge Rendell: She Gives Love a Bad Name

Sadly, we missed this event because we were still out of town. But yesterday morning, here in Washington, DC, the American Enterprise Institute sponsored an incendiary debate a panel discussion entitled “Are Law Firms Breaking the Law? Racial and Gender Preferences in Attorney Hiring and Promotion.”
Accounts of the event are available from The BLT and the WSJ Law Blog. Here’s a squib from Rob Rogers’s BLT write-up:

Michele Roberts Michele A Roberts Akin Gump Above the Law blog.jpgCurt Levey of the Committee for Justice argued that law firms typically have “no viable defense” for discrimination against non-minority attorneys. Richard Sander of UCLA School of Law, whose research previously has been discussed in Legal Times’ commentary articles (including here), analyzed the hardships that racial preferences can impose on their beneficiaries.

On the other side, Shirley Wilcher, president of Wilcher Global, argued that law firms have a history of discrimination to overcome and some partners still assume that minority associates aren’t as qualified. Michele Roberts [at right], a partner at Akin Gump, questioned whether law-school grades (a key element in Sander’s analysis) were that significant to legal success and pointed out that becoming a partner depends on other factors. (She also said that Akin Gump’s minority associates do not have substantially lower grades.)

We also had a source in the audience. Our tipster’s thoughts — reader discretion advised, no punches are pulled — appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Heated Words Exchanged at Affirmative Action Panel”

He’s getting lectured on ethics and accountability by our favorite former First Lady:
Hillary Clinton Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpg
Of course, Hillary Clinton was accused of similar conduct — firing public servants to make way for cronies — in the Travelgate scandal. But there’s a critical difference between them: Hillary is delicious, and Alberto Gonzales is not.
Update: Oh yeah, the situations differ in other respects, too. But the deliciousness differential is the most important factor by far.
Random aside: Before he took the podium at yesterday’s news conference, Attorney General Gonzales gave a peck on the cheek to a striking blonde woman. We believe that the kissed colleague was Alice Fisher, the diva-licious queen of the DOJ’s Criminal Division, but we’re not sure. If you know for certain, please confirm.
EXCLUSIVE: Hillary Clinton Calls for Gonzales’ Resignation [ABC News]

We haven’t verified this with a source at the firm; we received it secondhand (but from a source who has been reliable in the past). Anyway, with the foregoing caveats, here it is:

Alston & Bird just went to 145K for 1st years in Charlotte, but did NOT raise in Atlanta. The A&B associates in Atlanta are outraged.

Any thoughts, on this or any other salary-related matter? It has been a while since our last Skaddenfreude thread (which has forced some of you to leave salary-related comments in random places). So you can treat this as an open thread for compensation-related gossip and discussion.

It can make you go blind — AND it can cause you to be named as the defendant in a civil lawsuit:
American Idol Mario Vasquez Above the Law Blog.jpg
(We love how “masturbation” appears in quotation marks. We realize it’s a quotation from the Complaint, but it reads as it were placed in scare-quotes — as if it were a less technical and more colloquial term, a la “spanking the monkey.”)
“A.I.” Contestant Accused of “Masturbating” in Suit [TMZ.com]

Aaron Charney 2 headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett CharneyBernard Fried, that is — the judge presiding over the salaciously delicious litigation known as Aaron Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. According to the online docket (we haven’t verified this with chambers), there’s going to be a status conference before Justice Fried tomorrow, in New York Supreme Court (60 Centre Street).
We won’t be able to make it up to New York for the proceedings. But if you will be attending, please do share your full report with us. We promise to link to any blog or mainstream media write-up of the festivities. Thanks!
Update: We initially stated that the hearing would be at 3:30 PM, but we’re no longer sure of that. If you know for certain, please inform us. Thanks.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)

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