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

The start of the new Term of the Supreme Court of the United States is about a month away. So now is a good time to do a new round-up for Supreme Court clerk hiring. As it turns out, there are more than enough unreported hires for a fresh story.

And there’s other SCOTUS clerk news to share as well. Remember last year, when law firm signing bonuses for SCOTUS clerks hit a new high of $300,000? Well, try to stop yourself from turning green with envy, but some firms are now offering even more than that.

How much are these kids — and yes, many of them are kids, in their mid-twenties — taking home in signing bonuses? Yes, signing bonuses, on top of their usual six-figure associate salaries….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Into 2016 We Go — Plus SCOTUS Clerk Bonus News”

Observers of the legal industry have been wondering about the future of Bingham McCutchen for the past several months. In the wake of a rocky 2013, which triggered some lawyer departures and staff reductions, there has been a fair amount of merger talk.

Some have wondered whether Bingham might “fall victim to its own strategy” — i.e., whether the firm, which grew in power and profitability by swallowing up other firms, might itself get eaten up by a rival.

So what’s the latest on the Bingham merger talk front? And what might happen if the talks go further?

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Judge Jill Pryor

* Mathew Martoma, the former Harvard law student who fabricated his transcript when applying for clerkships, gets nine years in prison for insider trading. [DealBook / New York Times]

* If Bingham McCutchen moves forward on merger talks with Morgan Lewis, a bunch of Bingham partners might bail. [American Lawyer]

* Congratulations to Judge Jill Pryor, who will join Judge Bill Pryor on the Eleventh Circuit. [Fulton County Daily Report]

* Can you be fired for medical marijuana in Colorado, where the drug is legal even for recreational purposes? [ABA Journal]

* Dewey have some good news for the embattled ex-leaders of the defunct law firm? [New York Law Journal]

* Home Depot is the latest major retailer to be hit by a data breach. [Washington Post]


Lawyers and reality television: a match made in heaven? Some might regard Andi Dorfman, the beautiful Atlanta prosecutor turned Bachelorette, as a goddess (and some might disagree).

Talk of paradise brings us to the latest high-profile reality TV offering: Utopia. This “big, bold, and expensive” Fox show debuted last night to ratings described as “not ideal.” The premise of the show: drop 15 people into an isolated five-acre camp in the California wilderness, with no internet, electricity, or plumbing, and watch these “founding fathers and mothers” try to “form a new society and rethink all the fundamental tenets of civilization.”

An Above the Law reader who watched the first episode described Utopia as “a complete train wreck.” But at least it’s a train wreck featuring a lawyer — a rather attractive lawyer, in fact….

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Last week, we asked readers to submit possible captions for this picture:

Let’s have a look at what our readers came up with, and vote on the finalists…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Caption Contest Finalists: Three Chiefs”

Hop in the DeLorean and travel back in time with us.

We’ve been enjoying the occasional trip back in time to look at Biglaw in ages past. In prior Flashback Friday posts, we’ve covered such topics as the most prestigious law firms in 1998 and billable hours in the 1990s.

And, of course, we have covered compensation. We’ve done two posts so far looking at associate comp in the 1990s, in New York and in other cities — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles.

Today we’ll close out the series with an overview of associate pay in the remaining markets of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco/Palo Alto, and Washington, D.C….

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[T]he solution to the knot [of complex legal problems] has been to add more string. Simply adding more lawyers and compliance professionals will only create far worse, more complicated and more costly problems.

Geoffrey A. Moore, author of the bestselling Crossing the Chasm (affiliate link) and other books, and Mark Harris, CEO of Axiom, in an interesting DealBook piece about the need to rethink the current model for delivery of legal services.

We love fun photographs of federal judges here at Above the Law. It’s interesting to see what judges look like when they’re off the bench. What do Their Honors have going on underneath their robes? Inquiring minds want to know.

Today we have some random Friday fun for you. The latest picture for an ATL caption contest features a prominent federal judge in an unusual situation….

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Judge Richard Posner

* A unanimous Seventh Circuit panel, in an opinion by Judge Posner, just struck down Wisconsin and Indiana’s bans on same-sex marriage. The result isn’t surprising in light of the blistering benchslaps delivered by Judge Posner at oral argument, but the timing is faster than usual (for a federal appellate opinion in a high-profile case, not for the prolific Posner). [BuzzFeed]

* Bad news for Cahill Gordon: the Third Circuit just revived a fraud case against the high-powered firm and one of its clients, a unit of BASF. [WSJ Law Blog]

* And badder news for BP: a federal judge just concluded that the oil giant was grossly negligent in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. [New York Times]

* Freshfields gets fresh talent, adding former Wachtell partner Mitchell Presser and former Skadden partner James Douglas to its ranks. [American Lawyer]

* The dean of Seton Hall Law, Patrick Hobbs, will step down from the deanship at the end of the current academic year. Congratulations to Dean Hobbs on a long and successful tenure. [South Orange Juice]

* And congratulations to John Grisham and Jason Bailey, winners of, respectively, the 2014 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and the 2014 ABA Journal/Ross Short Fiction Contest. [ABA Journal]

* Brittany McGrath, Brooklyn Law class of 2014, RIP. [TaxProf Blog]

Contrary to the cliché, sometimes the acorn does fall far from the tree. Very, very far.

Let’s play a game of word association. If I were to toss out “ACORN” — as in the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, not the nut — what would come to mind?

Controversy? Certainly.

Scandal? Sure.

People in need of low-income housing? Why not.

You probably wouldn’t blurt out, “27-foot-wide, $21 million townhouse in the West Village”….

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