David Lat

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David Lat
Lat in 2022
David Benjamin Lat

(1975-06-19) June 19, 1975 (age 48)
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Yale University (JD)
  • Lawyer
  • author
  • legal commentator
SpouseZachary Baron Shemtob
WebsiteOriginal Jurisdiction

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.

Lat attended Harvard University and Yale Law School. After law school, he worked as a law clerk for Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain, became an associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and later was 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.

As of May 2021, Lat's main writing outlet is his Substack newsletter, Original Jurisdiction, which he describes as his "primary source of income."

Early life and education[edit]

David Lat is the son of Filipino doctors.[1] He was born in Queens, New York.[2] He grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey,[2] 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.[1] Lat attended Regis High School in Manhattan, New York.[1] Lat won the Villiger Tournament for extemporaneous speaking in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1][3]

After high school, Lat attended Harvard University, where he studied English literature,[1] wrote dozens of columns for The Harvard Crimson,[4] and was a member of the Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society.[5] He graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.[6] He then attended Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and vice president of its Federalist Society chapter.[1][7] He graduated in 1999 with a Juris Doctor.

Legal career[edit]

After law school, Lat was a law clerk for judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1999 to 2000.[8] He then entered private practice at the Manhattan law 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.[1] One Wachtell partner noted that he seemed very unhappy in the drudgery of litigation.[1]

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.[1] When his blogging became public, he met with then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who praised his blog.[1] At the end of 2005, Lat left his job at the U.S. Attorney's office.[1] He reported that the resignation was his own choice, though his supervisor encouraged him to take any blogging opportunities afforded by his new celebrity.[1]


Underneath Their Robes[edit]

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",[9] 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 United States 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."[citation needed]

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."[10] 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.[11][b]

Above the Law[edit]

In June 2006, Lat announced his decision to leave Wonkette in order to form a legal gossip blog with Dealbreaker's Elizabeth Spiers.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

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."[15] 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."[16]

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.[17]

Original Jurisdiction[edit]

In December 2020, Lat launched Original Jurisdiction, a newsletter/website about law and the legal profession on the Substack platform, with an interview of prominent litigator David Boies as his first story.[18] In May 2021, Lat left Lateral Link and legal recruiting and returned to full-time writing, with Original Jurisdiction as his primary outlet.[19][20][21] Paid subscriptions to Original Jurisdiction now represent his primary source of income.[22]

Author and writing[edit]

Lat's writing has also appeared in various newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times,[23][24] The Wall Street Journal,[25] The Washington Post,[26] The Los Angeles Times,[27][28] Slate,[29] New York Magazine, The New York Observer, and Washingtonian.

In 2014, Lat published his first novel, Supreme Ambitions, to favorable reviews.[30] 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. 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."[31]

Personal life[edit]

Lat is gay.[32] He is married to fellow lawyer Zachary Baron Shemtob.[32] They were married by Judge J. Paul Oetken.[8] Their son was born in October 2017 through a gestational surrogate.[32][33] Lat has run the New York City Marathon twice, most recently in 2007, with a finishing time of 4:43:27.[34] He walks about 25 miles a week and engages in interval training regularly.[35]

On March 17, 2020, Lat announced he was infected with COVID-19.[36] He was listed in critical condition, intubated in a hospital in New York City as of March 20,[35] but his condition improved substantially by March 28.[37] He was discharged from NYU Langone on April 1.[38] On April 6, 2020, he was interviewed on the Today show and The Rachel Maddow Show about his experience.[39][40]

Lat lives in Summit, New Jersey.[8]


  1. ^ The pseudonym references Article Three of the United States Constitution, which establishes the federal judiciary.
  2. ^ Lat no longer actively posts on UTR, but the archives are available online.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Miller, Jonathan (January 22, 2006). "He Fought the Law. They Both Won". The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Lat, David (November 1, 2022). "Affirmative Action Is Going Down—And It's A Good Thing Too". Original Jurisdiction. Archived from the original on November 2, 2022. By the way, I was born in Queens, New York—contrary to my Wikipedia entry, which claims I was born in Bergenfield, New Jersey, which is just a town I grew up in.
  3. ^ "National Circuit Tournament Champions". Extemp Central. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  4. ^ "David B. Lat". Harvard Crimson.
  5. ^ "High School Students Flock to Annual Debate Tournament". Harvard Crimson.
  6. ^ "Legally Speaking Interview with David Lat". uchastings.edu.
  7. ^ "The Yale Law Journal – Masthead: Volume 108". yalelawjournal.org.
  8. ^ a b c "Interview with David Lat". Interviews with Max Raskin. Retrieved April 25, 2022.
  9. ^ Kaplan, David A. (July 19, 2004). "Judges: Who's Fairest?". Newsweek. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  10. ^ Toobin, Jeffrey (November 21, 2005). "Scotus Watch". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  11. ^ "Letter From the Editors: Politics Makes Strange Blogfellows". Wonkette. January 30, 2006. Archived from the original on April 12, 2006.
  12. ^ Shakeup At Gawker Media: Jesse Oxfeld Out; Shuffle Across Blogs; Two Properties Up For Sale, The Huffington Post, July 2, 2006.
  13. ^ "David Lat Heads to New York – The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times". typepad.com.
  14. ^ "Above the Law". December 10, 2009.
  15. ^ French, Alex (December 12, 2012). "How Gossip Transformed the Legal Industry". Details. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  16. ^ Rogers, Abby (October 17, 2012). "The 20 Biggest Legal Stars On Twitter". Business Insider. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  17. ^ Lat, David (May 6, 2019). "A Departure Memo, From David Lat". Above the Law. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  18. ^ Lat, David (December 3, 2020). "What's Going On At Boies Schiller Flexner?". Original Jurisdiction. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  19. ^ Grant, Jason. "'Life Is Short. Take Chances.': David Lat Has a New Career and a New Perspective After Surviving COVID-19". American Lawyer. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  20. ^ Coe, Aebra. "'David Lat On Looking Through The Lens Of Legal Recruiting". Law360. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  21. ^ Ward, Stephanie Francis. "'A year after his COVID-19 recovery, Above the Law founder David Lat makes some big changes". ABA Journal. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  22. ^ Lat, David (May 5, 2021). "'All Rise! An Announcement About Original Jurisdiction". Original Jurisdiction. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  23. ^ Lat, David (October 3, 2020). "When $1,000 an Hour Is Not Enough". The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  24. ^ Lat, David (June 18, 2007). "The Supreme Court's Bonus Babies". The New York Times. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  25. ^ Lat, David (October 25, 2013). "Book Review: 'The Partner Track' by Helen Wan". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  26. ^ Lat, David (April 9, 2020). "Opinion - I spent six days on a ventilator with covid-19. It saved me, but my life is not the same". Washington Post. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  27. ^ Lat, David (July 9, 2020). "Op-Ed: People ask me if I've recovered from COVID-19. That's not an easy question to answer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  28. ^ Lat, David (December 22, 2021). "Op-Ed: Biden's flurry of nominations will bring generations of diversity to federal courts". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  29. ^ Lat, David (June 8, 2020). "I Didn't Have to Pay a Penny of My $320,000 COVID-19 Hospital Bill. Is That a Good Thing?". Slate. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  30. ^ Alter, Alexandra (December 7, 2014). "Pleasing the Court with Intrigue". The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  31. ^ Alter, Alexandra (December 7, 2014). "Pleasing the Court With Intrigue". The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  32. ^ a b c Steve Vladeck and Karen Vladeck (April 22, 2021). "Episode 18: You Guys Are Such Dads!". In Loco Parent(i)s (Podcast). Retrieved April 22, 2021.
  33. ^ "Zach Shemtob & David Lat's Baby Registry on The Bump". registry.thebump.com. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  34. ^ "New York Road Runners Official Race Results". results.nyrr.org. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  35. ^ a b 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.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ Grant, Jason (March 29, 2020). "David Lat Transferred Out of ICU, Taken Off Ventilator in Coronavirus Fight". National Law Journal. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  38. ^ 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.
  39. ^ "Man who survived a week on a ventilator tells his coronavirus story". Today.com. April 6, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  40. ^ "COVID-19 TRANSCRIPT: 4/6/20, The Rachel Maddow Show". msnbc.com. April 6, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2020.

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