David Benjamin Lat
June 19, 1975
|Education||Harvard University (BA)|
Yale University (JD)
|Occupation||Legal Commentator and Author|
|Founder of Above the Law|
David Benjamin Lat (born June 19, 1975) is an American lawyer, author, and legal commentator. Lat is the founder of Above the Law, a website about law firms and the legal profession.
Before blogging, Lat attended Harvard College and Yale Law School. After law school, he worked as a law clerk for a federal appeals judge (Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain), an associate at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, and an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the appeals division in the District of New Jersey.
Lat first began blogging anonymously for the judicial gossip blog "Underneath Their Robes," until he revealed his identity in a November 2005 interview with Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker. Shortly thereafter, Lat launched Above the Law, a website featuring news about law firms and the legal profession and legal gossip. In December 2014, Lat published his debut novel, Supreme Ambitions.
Early life & education
David Lat is the son of Filipino doctors. He grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey, and Saddle River, New Jersey. While living in Saddle River, his neighbors included former President Richard M. Nixon. On Halloween, he would get a Halloween card and a handshake from the former president. Lat attended Regis High School in Manhattan, New York. Lat won the Villiger Tournament for extemporaneous speaking in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He attended Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he studied English, wrote dozens of columns for the Harvard Crimson, and was a member of the Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society. He earned a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, graduating in 1996.
After law school, he went on to work as a judicial law clerk for a federal appeals court judge in Portland, Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, during the 1999–2000 judicial year. After his clerkship, he went on to a job at the Manhattan firm Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz. While at Wachtell, he worked on a fight over insurance payments for the World Trade Center on behalf of Wachtell's client Larry Silverstein. One Wachtell partner noted that he seemed very unhappy in the drudgery of litigation.
After leaving Wachtell, Lat took a job in the appeals division of the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and twice argued before Justice Samuel Alito in the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. When his blogging became public, he met with then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who praised his blog. At the end of 2005, Lat left his job at the U.S. Attorney's office. He reported that the resignation was his own choice, though his supervisor encouraged him to take any blogging opportunities afforded by his new celebrity.
Underneath Their Robes
In June 2004, Lat anonymously started the website Underneath Their Robes (UTR), a gossip blog about the federal judiciary, under the pseudonym Article III Groupie, also known as A3G.[a] While Lat mentioned his background as a former federal judicial clerk from a top law school, he gave the readers the impression that the author was a female lawyer at a large law firm. The blog became widely popular when it conducted a poll on the "Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary", and several federal judges, including Alex Kozinski and Richard Posner, corresponded with Article III Groupie. The blog interviewed several judges and gained national media coverage in the wake of the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court nominations of John Roberts, Harriet Miers, and Samuel Alito. The blog also served as a clearinghouse for news and gossip about clerks for the Supreme Court, whom A3G called "the Elect."
In November 2005, Lat revealed A3G's identity in an interview with Jeffrey Toobin for the magazine The New Yorker. Lat said that "[t]he blog really reflects two aspects of my personality, I am very interested in serious legal issues as well as in fun and frivolous and gossipy issues. I can go from the Harvard Law Review to Us Weekly very quickly." After leaving the U.S. Attorney's office in January 2006, Lat became an editor of Washington, D.C. blog Wonkette (at the time, part of the Gawker Media network), formerly run by Ana Marie Cox.[b]
Above the Law
In June 2006, Lat announced his decision to leave Wonkette in order to form a legal gossip blog with Dealbreaker's Elizabeth Spiers. In August 2006, this blog was founded as 'Above the Law'. In July 2008, he became the managing editor of Breaking Media, overseeing its stable of blogs out of its New York office. In December 2009, Lat announced that he would be returning to full-time writing and editing of Above the Law, after a new CEO and executive editor joined Breaking Media.
In 2012 Lat "broke the news that one of most prestigious law firms in the world, Dewey & LeBoeuf, which employed more than 1,300 attorneys in 12 countries in 2007, was on the verge of imploding." Business Insider named Lat one of the 20 biggest legal stars on Twitter, calling his Twitter feed a "treasure trove of law firm gossip, employment trends, stupid law student antics, and pretty much anything else concerning the legal industry."
In May 2019, Lat left Above the Law to become a managing director of the legal recruiting firm Lateral Link, although he continues to write biweekly columns for the website.
Author and writing
Lat's writing has also appeared in various newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, The New York Observer, and Washingtonian.
In 2014, Lat published his first novel, Supreme Ambitions, to favorable reviews. The novel details the rise of Audrey Coyne, a recent Yale Law School graduate who dreams of clerking for the U.S. Supreme Court, mirroring Lat's own former ambitions. After graduating from YLS, Audrey moves to the West Coast to clerk for a highly regarded appeals-court judge, just as Lat did. Also similar to Lat's familiar blogging style, the novel features some headline-making cases, romance, and judicial gossip. According to a reviewer in The New York Times, "for an elite niche — consisting largely of federal judges and their clerks — Supreme Ambitions has become the most buzzed-about novel of the year."
Lat is gay. He is married to fellow lawyer Zachary Baron Shemtob. They adopted a son in October 2017. He has run the New York City Marathon twice, most recently in 2007, with a finishing time of 4:43:27. He walks about 25 miles a week and engages in interval training regularly.
On March 17, 2020, Lat announced he was infected with COVID-19. He was listed in critical condition, intubated in a hospital in New York City as of March 20, but his condition improved substantially by March 28. He was discharged from NYU Langone on April 1. On April 6, 2020, he was interviewed on the Today television show about his experience.
- The pseudonym references Article Three of the United States Constitution, which establishes the federal judiciary.
- Lat no longer actively posts on UTR, but the archives are available online.
- Miller, Jonathan (January 22, 2006). "He Fought the Law. They Both Won". The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- "National Circuit Tournament Champions". Extemp Central. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- "David B. Lat". Harvard Crimson.
- "High School Students Flock to Annual Debate Tournament". Harvard Crimson.
- "Legally Speaking Interview with David Lat". uchastings.edu.
- "The Yale Law Journal – Masthead: Volume 108". yalelawjournal.org.
- Kaplan, David A. (July 19, 2004). "Judges: Who's Fairest?". Newsweek. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- Toobin, Jeffrey (November 21, 2005). "Scotus Watch". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- "Letter From the Editors: Politics Makes Strange Blogfellows". Wonkette. January 30, 2006. Archived from the original on April 12, 2006.
- Shakeup At Gawker Media: Jesse Oxfeld Out; Shuffle Across Blogs; Two Properties Up For Sale, The Huffington Post, July 2, 2006.
- "David Lat Heads to New York – The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times". typepad.com.
- "Above the Law".
- French, Alex (December 12, 2012). "How Gossip Transformed the Legal Industry". Details. Retrieved March 25, 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Abby Rogers (October 17, 2012). "The 20 Biggest Legal Stars On Twitter". Business Insider. Retrieved March 25, 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Lat, David. "A Departure Memo, From David Lat". Above the Law. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
- Lat, David (October 3, 2020). "When $1,000 an Hour Is Not Enough". The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- Lat, David (June 18, 2007). "The Supreme Court's Bonus Babies". The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- Lat, David (October 25, 2013). "Book Review: 'The Partner Track' by Helen Wan". Walk Street Journal. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- Alter, Alexandra (December 7, 2014). "Pleasing the Court with Intrigue". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Alter, Alexandra (December 7, 2014). "Pleasing the Court With Intrigue". The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
- "Zach Shemtob & David Lat's Baby Registry on The Bump". registry.thebump.com. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
- "New York Road Runners Official Race Results". results.nyrr.org. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
- Grant, Jason (March 21, 2020). "David Lat Put on Ventilator, in Critical Condition With COVID-19 Infection". New York Law Journal. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- Lat, David [@DavidLat] (March 17, 2020). "FYI - I have a confirmed case of #covid19 aka #coronavirus. If you interacted with me in person after 2/23, you can cite that fact and get automatically tested. Otherwise you might have to go to the ridiculous efforts I had to in order" (Tweet). Retrieved March 22, 2020 – via Twitter.
- Grant, Jason (March 29, 2020). "David Lat Transferred Out of ICU, Taken Off Ventilator in Coronavirus Fight". National Law Journal. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
- Weiss, Debra Cassens (April 2, 2020). "Above the Law founder David Lat is being discharged after COVID-19 battle". ABA Journal. Retrieved April 4, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Man who survived a week on a ventilator tells his coronavirus story". Today.com. April 6, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)