December 2011

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed, but here we are. It’s December 31st, New Year’s Eve. The weather is turning cold, the Republican presidential contest is heating up, and it’s time to review this year’s biggest stories on Above the Law.

Consistent with past practice, we will refrain from offering our subjective judgments on the most important stories of the year. Instead, just as we did back in 2010 and 2009, we’ll identify the ten biggest stories of the past year as decided by you, our readers. With the help of our friends at Google Analytics, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten posts for 2011, based on traffic.

In terms of overall topics, the most popular category page for the year was Law Schools, for the second year in a row. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the year was an eventful one for the legal academy. It would be fair to describe 2011 as an annus horribilis for the law school world, with various forces laying siege to the ivory tower. The attackers include not just unemployed lawyers turned scambloggers, but the mainstream media, led by David Segal of the New York Times; plaintiffs’ lawyers, who have already sued several law schools (and have announced plans to sue at least 15 more in 2012); and even a tenured law professor calling for reform (Paul Campos, currently in the lead for 2011 Lawyer of the Year).

The second most-popular category at ATL: Biglaw. Although we’ve expanded our small-firm and in-house coverage dramatically here at Above the Law, adding multiple columnists in each space, our coverage of large law firms still draws major traffic and drives discussions.

Now, on to the ten most popular individual posts on Above the Law in 2011….

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Even he doesn't believe it.

* I really do think Roberts is eager to lead the Court that strikes down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. I don’t know why you want to go down in history as the Chief Justice who trusted South Carolina, but we’ll soon find out. [Slate]

* Listening to Republican candidates compete about who grew up the poorest is like listening to Democratic candidates argue about which one has a spine. [Huffington Post]

* But honestly guys, Rick Santorum? The Republicans would be better off nominating a “candidate to be named later.” [TPM]

* College and Law together in only six years! [Tex Parte Blog]

* The one thing you need for 2012 is focus? Really? Are those the points you have to build up before you can use Force Sweep? [Forbes]

* “The Fourth Circuit, in sum, found that an officer’s use of a knife to cut a sandwich baggie of crack off his penis, an act performed at night on a public street, was unreasonable.” Wait, what? Cops are cutting crack baggies off of people’s penises? What the hell is going on in this country? [WSJ Law Blog]

In our recent post on the top 10 most generous large law firms — based on analysis by ATL’s new director of research, Brian Dalton — the firm of Hogan Lovells placed second. Under the rankings, this meant that Hogan partners are taking the second-biggest hit to their own bottom lines in order to keep their associates happy and well-compensated.

But is this still the case today? Based on what we’re hearing about the most recent Hogan bonuses, announced shortly before Christmas, one wonders whether the Ho-Love partners have turned from Santas into Scrooges….

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Tom Wallerstein

This is the time of year when everyone pulls out a Top Ten list of one thing or another. I don’t mind; a Top Ten list is a convenient format for reflection and New Year’s Eve has always been a time of reflection for me, whether that involves setting goals or just thinking about the ups and downs of the past year. So I thought I would use the opportunity to offer my perspective of the Top Ten Differences Between Biglaw and Boutique. So without further ado, let’s push in the button and let the top ten play:

10. Money, Money

When you work at a firm, you get paid either a salary or an hourly rate. You get employer-paid benefits and you might even get a bonus. But you know the firm is billing you out at hundreds of dollars an hour, and your hourly wage comes nowhere near that. When you run your own shop, you don’t get a salary but you keep all the money paid by your clients, or recovered in a contingent fee agreement. Of course, you’re also responsible for all the expenses.

Whether that is a good or bad thing depends on a lot of factors and varies by individual, but no one can deny that the economics between working in Biglaw and working for yourself are very different.

Read on after the jump for the rest of the Top Ten Differences Between Biglaw and Boutique….

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* Rick Perry’s motion for a temporary restraining order over the printing of Virginia’s primary ballots without his name on them has been denied. Damn all of those unelected, activist judges! [Bloomberg]

* Jed Rakoff isn’t the only one with cojones big enough to challenge the SEC. Wisconsin Judge Rudolph Randa fell right in line, and cited the controversial Citigroup case as precedent. [New York Times]

* Looking for ways to lower your law firm’s operating expenses in 2012? Here are some suggestions for Biglaw firms. At least they deal with technology, not layoffs. [Law.com]

* Long, hard litigation: a Los Angeles city attorney would like to pull out of a ballot measure that requires porn stars to wear condoms while filming before people start suing. [Los Angeles Times]

* Do you want to think about babies when you’re being served at a strip club? Didn’t think so. This pregnant waitress is suing over being demoted, and then fired by the Hustler Club. [Gothamist]

* Grumpiest old man: at almost 100, an Italian man is set to become the world’s oldest divorcé. Hope he had a prenup (even though they probably didn’t exist back then). [Herald Sun]

* Pizza, beer, and hot chicks: what’s the problem? A lawsuit over the “hot chicks.” A former bartender says he was replaced in favor of hotties, and now he wants justice (and money). [11 Alive News]

Whoever owns this should be imprisoned.

* Palsgraf yo, the 2011 version. [The Daily What]

* There was a dispute about who owns the rights to Ghost Rider? Ghost Rider? Even dung beetles don’t fight each other over poo. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Meanwhile, both Marvel and D.C. Comics support SOPA. That’s cool, definitely the lesson kids are supposed to take from comic books is that freedom should always be sacrificed when there is more money on the line. [The Beat]

* A state-mandated Christmas bonus is one reason to follow Mantequilla to Mexico. [Library of Congress]

* One of the best year-end lists I’ve seen: the year in lies. [Gawker]

* They should make a comedy about MF Global with Rowan Atkinson playing Jon Corzine. [Dealbook]

* Rick Perry; still stupid. [TPM]

* New media. Catch the fever! [Real Lawyers Have Blogs]

It's like Bizzaro Pursuit of Happyness.

If you were close to a computer yesterday, you probably noticed the article on Gawker about the Yeshiva University student who was “homeless by choice” while going to school. The student, who goes by the name of “David,” gave an interview to the Yeshiva Observer.

If you read the article quickly, you might have missed the part where we found out this David fellow is a 2L at Cardozo Law School. You might have missed the part where this 2L at Cardozo decided to go through a semester of law school while living on the streets.

The Yeshiva Observer interview which Gawker linked to focused on the crazy aspect of a privileged person depriving himself of shelter. But David reached out to Above the Law and gave us short interview, including insight into how his self-challenge affected his legal career….

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Jeremy Paul

For Yale, it’s very economically feasible because almost nobody would do it.

Jeremy Paul, dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law, commenting on the likelihood (or lack thereof) of law schools adopting the unconventional tuition reimbursement policy proposed by Yale Law professors Akhil Reed Amar and Ian Ayres in their thought-provoking essay, Paying Students to Quit Law School

I know why the caged bird tweets.

* Here’s a nice round-up of some of the most controversial laws that will be enacted in 2012. Looks like California is going to have some fabulously multicultural litigation. [Associated Press]

* What do you get when you cross an artist with a penchant for Rastafarians with the son of a Boies Schiller name partner? The biggest copyright fair use appeal ever. [New York Times]

* A Massachusetts town paid Phoebe Prince’s family only $225K to settle. With lawyer’s fees, it’s almost not even worth suing if your kid gets bullied to death. [ABC News]

* Everyone is going cuckoo over Iowa’s conservatives, even the Eighth Circuit. Iowa Law’s former dean is facing a political discrimination suit. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Apparently, this PhoneDog Twitter account case is a pretty big deal in the world of social media law. I’ll turn discussion of this issue over to our social media expert, Brian Tannebaum. [CNN]

* An employee at a presumably small law firm in New York had her jaw shattered while a thief ransacked the office. Give this woman a bonus. Hell, give her a raise, too. [New York Post]

You can't make money selling all this stuff?

* Wait, Viacom couldn’t make money off of Rock Band? That’s ridiculous. I’ve got Skyrim and Star Wars and really every form of entertainment imaginable; but when the family comes over or the boys come over with their girlfriends, out come the drums, the four different guitars, the keyboard, and the mics. How do you not make money off of that? [New York Times / Media Decoder]

* South Carolina Republicans are trying to legislate greatness. Let me get this straight: markets need to be free, but employees should be controlled right down to the way they greet people. [NPR]

* Young lawyers can use their time sheets to impress clients? What, should they fill them out in invisible ink? [Greenhorn Legal]

* Meanwhile, most lawyers want to use their time sheets to impress their bank account. [WSJ Law Blog]

* I think the Millennials know the government is watching them at all times. The kids just want to look good when their profile comes up at headquarters. [Instapundit]

* Look at all the things this person did in 2011 in addition to passing the bar. [Undeniable Truth]

* Last week to vote for your favorite legal blogs in the ABA Blawg100. [ABA Journal]

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