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ATL’s 2011 Lawyer of the Year: The Winner!

Above the Law’s 2011 Lawyer of the Year contest is now over. Thanks to everyone who nominated a lawyer; thanks to our finalists, for being such accomplished and interesting individuals; and thanks to all the voters, who picked our victor.

Here are ATL’s past Lawyers of the Year:

For 2011, who will join their distinguished ranks? Let’s find out….

The votes were close in this year’s competition: just 47 votes separated our first-place finisher from our runner-up, and only 25 votes separated our silver medalist from our third-place finalists.

We’ve previously poked fun at Lawyer of the Month competitors — cough cough, Ira Schacter — for attempting to interfere with the electoral process. Coincidentally, the winner of 2011’s Lawyer of the Year title did just that. And while we thought that Schacter would sweep the competition, the controversial character who ran away with the title resorted to blegging over at Lawyers, Gun$ and Money to seal the win.

Congratulations to Paul Campos, the tenured, top-tier law professor behind Inside the Law School Scam! He is ATL’s Lawyer of the Year for 2011. [FN1]

If you’re not familiar with Inside the Law School Scam, it was on this blog that Campos, writing pseudonymously at the time as LawProf, offered readers a harsh indictment of legal education. Here is an excerpt from his first post (emphasis in the original):

I can no longer ignore that, for a very large proportion of my students, law school has become something very much like a scam. And who or what is doing the scamming? On the most general level, the American economy in the second decade of the 21st century. On a more specific level, the legal profession as a whole. But on what, for legal academics at least, ought to be the most particular, most important, and most morally and practically compelling level, the scammers are the 200 ABA-accredited law schools. Yet there is no such thing as a “law school” that scams its students — law schools are abstract social institutions, not concrete moral agents. When people say “law school is a scam,” what that really means, at the level of actual moral responsibility, is that law professors are scamming their students.

In a year where law schools came under tremendous fire from both the mainstream media and plaintiffs’ lawyers, such as Jesse Strauss and David Anziska, the call for reform coming from inside the ivory tower itself was particularly striking.

Campos received a significant amount of blowback from his peers as a result of his joining the ranks of law school scambloggers. Will his efforts bear fruit? Campos thinks change will come. In an interview with Constitutional Daily, he predicted that “there will be some reform at the structural-institutional level, if only because when you have an unsustainable business model you have to change or die.”

Congratulations again to Paul Campos. As Campos himself put it, he broke the “wall of silence” when he spoke out against the status quo in legal education. If more law professors join in calling law schools to task, perhaps we’ll see some serious reform take place.

[FN1] In fairness to Professor Campos, we didn’t prohibit campaigning. We understand that several firms solicited votes in our recent holiday card contest, and we certainly asked for your support for the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100. There’s a fine tradition of campaigning in online contests, dating back at least as far as Chief Judge Alex Kozinski’s self-nomination and “get out the vote” email campaign in the superhotties of the federal judiciary contest.

It’s award season [Lawyers, Gun$ and Money]

Earlier: ATL’s 2011 Lawyer of the Year: The Finalists!
ATL’s 2011 Lawyer of the Year: Nominations Needed

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