Interview With David Lat:
Lawyers, Technology, And The Supreme Court Nominee

In March, members of the MyCase team made the trip to Chicago for ABA Techshow, one of our favorite conferences of the year. While there, I interviewed many of the speakers and other experts in the legal space, including David Lat, attorney and editor at Above the Law.

In the video and transcript below, he discusses Above the Law’s recently expanded coverage of legal technology and solo and small-firm practice. He also offers his expert take on the United States Supreme Court nominee, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Merrick Garland, and also shared his predictions regarding possible outcomes:


Niki Black:
Hi. This is Niki Black. I’m here at ABA Techshow with David Lat, the editor of Above the Law. Welcome.

David Lat: Hello, great to be here Niki.

Niki Black: Okay, so I wanna ask you a couple of different questions. The first thing is, I wanna ask you about Above the Law. Recently, you’ve expanded your coverage for solo small firms and also technology, but why did you do that?

David Lat: Well, I think we, we started out initially almost ten years ago focused very much on large firms but we came to the realization that should’ve been obvious. Demographically, the vast majority of US lawyers work as solo practitioners or in small firms. So, we felt an important need to serve that market, which is really where lawyers are.

And the other thing we are covering a lot is technology. Technology is transforming the way that lawyers practice, it’s transforming the way they’re dealing with their clients and if you’re covering the law, the legal profession, what we do, but not covering technology, you’re doing something wrong.

Niki Black: Right, well that makes a lot of sense. Now, I have another question for you. In light of the recent Supreme Court nominee that Obama announced yesterday,  I thought I would pick your brain on that because this is an area of your expertise. So, I was wondering if you could just share your thoughts on his choice and what do you think might happen?

David Lat: So, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, who is the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, a very influential court, all located in the nation’s capitol. Uh, Merrick Garland, I think, was a little bit of a surprise for people. He is a 63-year-old white male and in terms of the demographics of the court, which people are very attentive to, people were wondering if maybe the president was going to pick another woman like he has done in the past, or whether he might pick a person of color.

One person who was mentioned a lot was Sri Srinivasan, who would be the first Asian American Justice. Paul Watford, a judge in California who’s African American, was also mentioned. But I think that in the end, President Obama was very impressed by Judge Garland and his long service on the DC Circuit and his credentials. He’s very impressively educated, worked on the court himself, he was a partner at a law firm, he worked in the Justice Department where he oversaw the response to the Oklahoma City bombing. So, Judge Garland seems like a very qualified nominee. It will be interesting to see whether he gets a confirmation hearing or vote.

Niki Black: And do you think there’s any factors that may affect whether that goes through?

David Lat: So, I think the Republicans are holding the line on not giving a hearing, which is their publicly stated view. They want the next Supreme Court Justice to be chosen after the Presidential election. But, what I’m wondering about is whether there might be a hearing after the Presidential election, but before the inauguration.

The so-called “Lame Duck” theory. Part of that is, depending on who’s elected President, the Republicans may think, let’s take Judge Garland who is a pretty moderate middle of the road jurist, because if Hillary Clinton is elected President you might like Judge Garland more than whoever Hillary picks.

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