It's pronounced 'Mystal' like 'Cristal,' not to be confused with Elie's crystal ball.

Welcome back to work. I’m not going to act like a flight attendant and “welcome” you to a place we all got to at the exact same time, but I do hope your 2012 is starting off well.

In case you missed it on New Year’s Eve, we took a look back at our biggest stories of 2011. Now, let’s turn our gaze to the future. What do you think will happen in 2012?

I’ll get us started: The world will not end, nor be impacted in any special way on December 21, 2012….

I’ll admit that my Negrodamus skills are not as strong as others, but now that we’re actually in an election year, I think we’re almost certainly in for another four years of President Obama. Obama has no business winning this election considering the economy and the way he’s sold out his base. But the Republican party hasn’t been able to come up with a credible candidate. Do you realize who the Republicans have run for president since Reagan? Bush, Bush, Dole, Bush, Bush, McCain… Romney. At least the Dems have given you some legitimate stars these past two decades.

But what will be the big legal stories of 2012? Let me look into my ebony ball:

  • Justice Anthony Kennedy will uphold the individual mandate in Obamacare, while Justice Antonin Scalia writes one of the top dissents in history. A generation from now, nobody will remember the particulars of the failed health care system the United States had before it finally adopted universal health care like a civilized nation. But law students will remember Scalia’s “ominous” dissent about the dangers of too much state power — some will even read it in the original English instead of its Mandarin translation.
  • Fewer firms will let Cravath “set” their bonuses. Cravath is getting passed like it’s in the slow lane by firms that use bonuses to reward high performers. They’re using Cravath as the floor, and then paying their top people more than what top people at Cravath earn in bonus dollars. Now that following Cravath isn’t nearly as sexy as it used to be, there will be firms that don’t perform as well who get off of the big bonus highway altogether. Why pay all your people the Cravath bonus when paying the Cravath bonus still leaves your people underpaid? More firms will stop following and start making a bonus pool in line with their profits.
  • Law schools will get more creative in how they massage their employment numbers. We talk a lot about “transparency,” and there will be MOAR TRANSPARENCY in 2012. But the real goal of getting legal educators and administrators to simply tell the truth to prospective law students will not be realized. Apparently, we live in a world where we have to come up with incentives for law schools to tell the truth, because left to their own devices, they’ll continue to obfuscate the facts.
  • Lawyers will continue to disgrace the profession. And I’ll still have a job.

That’s what I see. What do you guys think?

Earlier: Above The Law’s Top Ten Most Popular Stories of 2011


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