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

H Rodgin Cohen 2 Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGThe New York Law Journal recently published its “Book of Lists,” as an insert to a hard copy issue. We haven’t seen it ourselves, but a tipster highlighted some findings for us:

The ones that impressed me – considering the Aaron Charney litigation – were the surveys on most satisfied midlevel associates and most satisfied summer associates at large NY firms. As you can imagine, Sullivan & Cromwell did very poorly on these rankings.

For midlevel associates, they ranked No. 60, and had the largest number of respondents to the survey (88) of any firm on the list. For summer associates, they ranked No. 71, although several firms that ranked higher had a greater number of summer associates responding to the survey. On the pro bono services list, they ranked No. 45.

But they were No. 11 on size of NY office, and No. 14 on highest grossing.

You really should get a copy of this if you haven’t seen it – it would be grist for quite a bit of info on your blog.

We realize that rankings — e.g., the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings — can be pretty silly. But many people, ourselves included, still fixate on them. This isn’t exactly surprising. As Professor Miranda Fleischer recently observed, “we are all obsessed with measuring ourselves in some way, shape or form.”
(We haven’t located a copy of these rankings online — although, truth be told, we didn’t look very hard. If you locate them online, please let us know.)

It seems that LLM students are an endless source of stories — and not just those continually squabbling Harvard LLMs. In advance of our upcoming visit to Columbia Law School, here’s an amusing little anecdote about LLMs at CLS:

John Coffee John C Coffee Above the Law blog.JPGI was amused to learn last semester that Columbia Law Professor John Coffee is a rock-star to LLMs. Last fall Coffee held a review session before his Securities Law final. The review session was your basic, bland review of the material covered. The session ended and the class did the customary applause. I stood up to leave, when I saw a few “LLM gunners” approach Professor Coffee. I assumed they were just going to ask him questions, but then I saw him pull out a pen and began signing their casebooks.

I practically fell to the floor laughing. I know Coffee is a Corporate God, but come on. Do you really get your Con Law book signed by Larry Tribe or your Admin book signed by Tom Merrill? Besides, how could you worship someone that turned to teaching only after he failed in becoming a partner at Cravath?

[Ed. note: That last sentence is merely the speculative opinion of our tipster. Another CLS source tells us, "There are some who claim that, but I don't believe there is any real basis for it."]

Coffee is an extremely colorful professor. You really should do a small piece on him and you’ll get some interesting stories.

If you have anything funny or interesting to share about Professor Coffee, please feel free to email us (subject line: “John Coffee”). Thanks.

For those of you who are wondering what happened to the NYU-University of Michigan match-up, which appears to have vanished (“undefined”), here’s the explanation:

From: Nick Rau
Sent: Monday, April 09, 2007 1:29 AM
To: David Lat
Cc: Dan Beltramo; Andrew Touchstone
Subject: Law School Poll: NYU vs U of Michigan

Hello there, my name is Nick Rau and I’m the CTO of Vizu Corporation. We’re contacting you because one of your law school contest polls was the subject of a number of gaming attempts today. At least 4 different automated scripts were being run to try to influence vote totals beginning earlier today.

The scripts were starting to cause severe performance problems for the Vizu.com site. We attempted to block by IP the attempts but whoever was behind one or more of the scripts kept moving to new machines. We finally were forced to delete the poll to end the problem completely.

You can read about some of this activity and the involvement of some of the voters on the following blog post:

http://www.abovethelaw.com/2007/04/atl_march_madness_the_final_fo_1.php

We apologize that this measure was necessary but we had no alternative. Your Vizu Answers Poll Zone was never affected by any of this and continues to function normally, generating revenue. We are currently working on stronger authentication protections for our Web Poll widget and should have those in place shortly to prevent this kind of problem from happening in the future.

If you have any questions, please let us know.

Regards,

Nick Rau

Jeez, people. We’re very disappointed in you. This is a sad commentary on ethics within the legal profession — as well as the coolness of law students and/or lawyers. Don’t you people have anything better to do than cheat in a silly online poll?
We’ve asked for more details about the cheating from the Vizu folks (and we may disqualify one or both schools depending upon what we learn). We will keep you posted.
Earlier: ATL March Madness: The Final Four


Rachel Paulose Rachel K Paulose Rachel Kunjummen Paulose Above the Law blog.jpgAs we noticed from your comments on our Monica Goodling “in memoriam” post, you know all about Rachel Paulose, the divalicious U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota. Paulose, who is reportedly “best buds” with Goodling, is another young, conservative, high-powered Justice Department lawyer, who now finds herself surrounded by controversy.
Last month, there was a mini-controversy over the extravagance of Paulose’s investiture as U.S. Attorney. That fabulous event, described by some as “a coronation,” featured a Marine Corps color guard and a performance by a municipal choir. But as today’s New York Times notes, “the complaints about Ms. Paulose’s investiture seem mild in comparison with the uproar ignited on Thursday.”
So what happened on Thursday? Here’s a concise summary:

It’s a major shakeup at the offices of new U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose. Four of her top staff voluntarily demoted themselves Thursday, fed up with Paulose, who, after just months on the job, has earned a reputation for quoting Bible verses and dressing down underlings.

Oh my goodness. Absolutely diva-licious!

Deputy U.S. Attorney John Marti is just one of the people dropping themselves in rank to simply [an assistant] U.S. Attorney position. Also making the move are the heads of Paulose’s criminal and civil divisions and the top administrative officer. The move is intended to send a message to Washington – that 33-year-old Paulose is in over her head.

Did Main Justice get the message? Maybe. According to today’s Washington Post, “The department was so alarmed that it sent a Washington-based Justice official to Minneapolis this week to try to talk the three out of their plans, officials said.” But the effort was unsuccessful:

John Kelly, deputy director of the Justice Department’s executive office of U.S Attorneys, visited Minneapolis on Thursday to try to resolve the situation…. The prosecutors stepped down after Kelly’s visit.

It was coordinated action by the “demotees,” according to TPM:

A source said managers had been unhappy with Paulose and decided to collectively resign. “They did it jointly because they couldn’t stand her anymore,” the source said, citing what been described as her “dictatorial management style and general lack of management experience.”

What do we think of all this? As one of you suggested, we actually overlapped in law school with Paulose, who was two years ahead of us. We were friendly with her. And we have some interesting tidbits to share about this magnificent diva, based on our interactions with her. (We may even reprint a juicy email exchange we had with her, some time ago, which contains hints of her future divahood.)
But that will have to wait until after the holiday weekend. In the meantime, check out the cornucopia of links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “DOJ Diva Alert! Meet U.S. Attorney Rachel K. Paulose”

Monica Goodling 5a Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGIt’s Good Friday — the Friday before a big holiday weekend. And we all know what that means: a high-profile resignation, timed in an attempt to avoid the news cycle.
Today we bid a fond farewell to the fabulous Monica M. Goodling. As de to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Monica Goodling helped coordinate the controversial firings of eight United States attorneys. When called upon to testify about the matter before Congress, she invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Oh, Monica — you will be missed. Long after you disappear from the newspaper headlines, you will live on in our hearts. We will always carry a torch for you.
Like so many great blonde icons — Marilyn Monroe, Lady Diana Spencer, Anna Nicole Smith — you left us before your time. So it is fitting and proper that we quote from these lyrics, as we mark your passing from the halls of justice:

Marilyn Monroe Norma Jean Above the Law Blog.jpgAnd it seems to me, you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did

Eternal rest grant unto the Justice Department career of Monica Goodling, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon it. May it rest in peace. May her DOJ career, and the careers of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.
Gonzales Aide Goodling Resigns [Associated Press]
Top Gonzales Aide Monica Goodling Resigns [Washington Post]
Gonzales Aide Who Refused to Testify Resigns [New York Times]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Monica Goodling (scroll down)

H Rodgin Cohen 2 Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGRecently H. Rodgin Cohen, chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell, was interviewed by Chrystia Freeland, the U.S. managing editor for the Financial Times.
The full transcript interview appears here. Of course, the subject of Aaron Charney v. S&C came up:

FT: You’re being accused quite publicly, your firm is, of sexual discrimination against a gay associate, what’s your response and what has it been like? It’s been a very public case.

RC: It has been public and that makes it unusual because I have had calls from various law firms saying there, but for the grace of God, go us because we were able to deal with it out of the limelight.

Wow — we’d love to hear the gory details. For every Charney v. S&C, there are probably five cases like it that get settled quietly, without fuss.
(Speaking of which, whatever happened to Marinaro v. Greenberg Traurig?)

RC (continued): Our response, I think, is quite simple. We have made it a real mission to ensure that this is a welcoming and inclusive law firm. And in my view there is no way that we could be engaged in a policy of discrimination in the area of GLT with our record. We have probably more gay and lesbian partners than any firm, anywhere. We tried to make it a welcoming firm for everyone to be totally inclusive and I think if somebody ever sat down and talked to the partners who are here who are gay, lesbian or transgender or our staff or our associates, I think they would all agree that this is a fully inclusive and welcoming place.

FT: Do you actually have transgender partners?

RC: To my knowledge there is not a transgender partner but there is transgender staff.

We appreciate Cohen’s hedge: “To my knowledge.” Because a firm chairman should be hands on, but not TOO hands on.
Transcript: Rodgin Cohen [FT.com]

The dominant company in the bar exam test prep market, Bar/Bri, has been sued for alleged violations of federal antitrust laws. That class action lawsuit may be settling — and you might be a class member entitled to settlement proceeds. Click here for more info.
Are Bar/Bri’s legal woes over? Not necessarily. Given how painful it can be to sit through some of their classes, it’s only a matter of time before BarBri gets sued again. We’re sure some enterprising plaintiffs’ lawyer can come up with a tort theory for suing Bar/Bri, on behalf of all students who have had to suffer through their courses.
If you think such a lawsuit would be frivolous, then watch this video from the 2005 Virginia Law Libel Show (the same folks who brought you that Beastie Boys parody). The idiocy has been exaggerated for comic effect — but not by much. Enjoy.

Barbri Video — The Virginia Law Libel Show [YouTube]
Earlier: Who Says White Men Can’t Rap?

Columbia Law School CLS Above the Law blog.jpgOur appearance next week at Columbia Law School, previously mentioned here, has been moved by half an hour (so that it won’t conflict with the star-studded Moot Court finals).
Here are the new details:

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

It’s open to the public, so feel free to swing by if you’re in the neighborhood. Thanks!

calculator Above the Law blog.jpgNew York’s new Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has some big shoes to fill. Governor Eliot Spitzer, during his time as New York AG, was a very busy bee.
It looks like Cuomo has found a juicy scandal to sink his teeth into — one with possible implications for many of the law students among you. From the NYT:

The directors of financial aid at Columbia University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California held shares in a student loan company that each of the universities recommends to student borrowers, and in at least two cases profited handsomely.

The personal stake of the three university officials in the company, now known as Student Loan Xpress, is the latest revelation in an expanding investigation by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo of New York into the relationships between student loan companies and universities. Student Loan Xpress is one of the “preferred lenders” recommended at all three universities.

Some interesting info from a tipster, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘Preferred Lenders’ for Financial Aid: A Big Racket?”

As reflected in the comments to our recent post, people can’t see eye to eye about Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh. To some, he’s an American hero; to others, he’s a liberal political hack.
But here are two things we believe to be non-controversial:
1. Dean Koh doesn’t look as good without his shirt as Dean Hiram Chodosh, of the S.J. Quinney Law School (University of Utah). A shirtless photo of Dean Chodosh, a nominee in our Law School Dean Hotties contest, is available here.
2. Dean Koh can’t dance as well as Dean Chodosh. Proving that NYU law students aren’t the only ones who can do fun stuff with the Michael Jackson song “Beat It,” Dean Chodosh recently strutted his stuff to that famous eighties classic:

Dean Hiram Chodosh for SCOTUS!!!
Napoleon Dean-O-Mite [YouTube]
Earlier: Should Hiram Chodosh File a Notice of Appeal?

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