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Above The Law’s Top Ten Most Popular Stories of 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….

Sorry, we lied. In honor of 2011, and also because the #10 and #11 entries were virtually tied in traffic, we’ve decided to give you the year’s top eleven stories, not just the top ten promised in the headline of this post. Here they are, in ascending order of popularity, ranked by pageviews; click on the title of each post to be taken to the original story.

11. Tiger Mom Triumphant: Her Cub Got Into Harvard! One of the biggest stories from early 2011 was the controversy surrounding Yale law professor Amy Chua’s high-profile (and excellent) parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Some observers criticized Chua’s parenting philosophy, but you can’t argue with success: Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, the oldest daughter of Amy Chua and fellow YLS professor Jed Rubenfeld, is now a first-year student at Harvard (and an excellent blogger; read her reflections on the past year over here).

10. All Rise! Reema Bajaj’s Bajayjay Is Now In Session: A young and attractive Illinois attorney, Reema Bajaj (aka Nicki Bajaj), has been accused of prostitution. Her trial is currently scheduled for March 2012. (As I’ve previously stated, I think that she’s innocent and hope she prevails.)

9. A Message from Career Services: Ladies, Please Learn How to Dress Yourselves: A well-intentioned event sponsored by Duke Law School, offering advice to law students about appropriate fashion choices for the workplace, became the talk of the blogosphere — and not exactly in a good way. As Staci Zaretsky observed in her review of the sartorial tips, “[w]hile some of the information was spot on, the rest was just laughable.”

8. Lawsuit of the Day: Jilted Lawyer Bride Sues Sidley Associate for Wedding Expenses: Gentlemen, let this be a lesson to you: break off an engagement with a high-powered woman lawyer at your peril. (The litigation was eventually settled, terms undisclosed.)

7. Pregnant Woman Takes Bar Exam While in Labor, Delivers Baby Right After! Don’t complain that we never give you happy news here at ATL. In July, we broke the news of Elana Nightingale Dawson going into active labor during the Illinois bar exam, then delivering a healthy baby boy later that afternoon. (Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes, Dawson passed the bar.)

6. Breaking: Cravath Bonuses Are Out; Welcome to the 2011 Bonus Season! Cravath kicked off this year’s Biglaw bonus season on November 28, announcing (essentially) the same bonuses as in 2010 and 2009. This infuriated associates around the country, but partners were pleased.

5. Chicago Attorney Allegedly Showed Her Breast Implants to Co-Workers; Blames Blago for Ethics Complaint: The tatas of Tamara Tanzillo proved too tantalizing to ignore for ATL readers. Additional allegations involved firearms, inebriation, a make-out session in an elevator, and the colorful moniker of “Boss Lady.” (Also, note the involvement of Chicago-area lawyers in almost half of the top 10 stories — specifically, entries #10, #8, #7, and #5.)

4. The D.C. Earthquake of 2011! Our minute-by-minute coverage of the earthquake that hit the East Coast in August 2011 generated some earth-shattering traffic for Above the Law.

3. In Re The Passing Of A Skadden Associate: In the wake of the sudden, tragic passing of Lisa Johnstone, an associate in the Los Angeles office of Skadden Arps, Elie Mystal offered some personal and heartfelt reflections on the challenges of working in Biglaw.

2. A Law Student Plays the Race Card — and Gets Busted, Big Time: As Elie explained in a recent interview, your ATL editors have nothing against UVA Law School — one of the nation’s best schools, with a superb faculty, a tremendous track record at clerkship placement, and a beautiful, bucolic setting. But when you serve up huge scandals like then-3L Johnathan Perkins’s fabricated tale of racial harassment by university police, we have no choice but to cover them. (Sorry, it’s nothing personal.)

1. The 2012 U.S. News Law School Rankings Are Out! The post announcing the arrival of U.S. News & World Report’s influential law-school rankings always makes our top ten stories. In 2009, it took fourth place; in 2010, it clocked in at #3. This year, the rankings post tops the rankings. Some might say the bloom is off the law school rose, but people remain keenly interested in which schools smell like flowers and which ones smell like fertilizer.

We hope you enjoyed this look back at the ten most popular stories of 2011. If you have a favorite ATL story from the past year that didn’t crack the top ten, please give it a mention in the comments.

A programming note: Since Monday is the federal holiday for New Year’s Day, we won’t be publishing much (if at all) between now and Tuesday, January 3. We’ll see you in 2012!

Earlier: Above The Law’s Top Ten Most Popular Stories of 2010
Above The Law’s Top Ten Most Popular Stories of 2009

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