October 2014

It’s the last day of December, so it’s a good time to look back on the year that was. We’ll do what we’ve done for the past three years (wrap-up posts from 2009, 2010, and 2011 can be found here, here, and here) and identify the ten biggest stories of the past year as decided by you, our readers. With the help of Google Analytics, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten posts for 2012, based on traffic (as represented by pageviews).

By the way, for the third year in a row, the most popular category page on Above the Law was Law Schools. People have now been intensely focused on the declining value proposition of going to law school for as long as it takes to earn a Juris Doctor degree. Isn’t it time that we graduate from the current educational model?

The second and third most-popular categories on ATL in 2012 were Biglaw and Bonuses. Although this year brought us the largest law firm failure ever, nearly all other firms indiscriminately doled out offers to summer associates, and bonus season looked better for the first time in years. While the legal profession is still in transition, things are certainly looking up, and through the highs and the lows, we’ve been there to cover it all.

So what were the ten most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2012? Let’s find out….

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Chris Christie, king of the prose-ticians.

* U.S. Attorneys are rising up, taking office, and conducting their business like hard-ass prosecutors. [Wall Street Journal]

* If only they had more guns at the police station, this might never have happened. [Fox News]

* Of course, out in Arizona, the state attorney general is pushing for an “armed posse” to patrol schools. Arizona: where bad ideas go to be fruitful and multiply. [NBC News]

* Would you give your kidney to your favorite law professor? I wouldn’t, but I would consider taking the kidney of my least favorite law professor and giving it to, well, pretty much anybody else. [Wake Forest School of Law]

* “Aereokiller” has been ordered to stop killing TV networks. [Film On]

* Wait, we still have “longshoremen”? For real, not just as the backdrop for a season of the Wire? [Miami Herald]

* Should law deans be “disbarred”? I like how people have to spend all this time just trying to figure out how to get law deans to tell the truth. [Tax Prof Blog]

It turns out, Mongolia was right.

Back in May, we told you about a lawyer who, on behalf of the president of Mongolia, was involved in his own crusade to stop the auction of precious Tyrannosaurus bones. Lawyer Robert Painter and President Elbegdorj Tsakhia argued that a Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton had been smuggled out of Mongolia to be sold in America.

Eventually, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the S.D.N.Y got involved, on the side of Mongolia. It turns out that this Mongolian dinosaur was just the tip of one man’s international smuggling operation.

That man pleaded guilty yesterday….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, from Ross Guberman, a look at lawyers’ ethical breaches and their consequences.

Quick: List all the ways you can get into ethical hot water while writing a brief, and then list all the things judges can do to you in return.

Sometimes lawyers go too far, but do judges ever overreact?

I interviewed Judy Fischer, author of Pleasing the Court (affiliate link), on wayward lawyers and the angry judges who penalize them:

In your short and fascinating book, we meet all sorts of wayward attorneys who are in some way punished by courts for something they’ve done in a brief. One attorney called the members of an administrative board “monkeys” and compared their pronouncements to the “grunts and groans of an ape.” Another attorney neglected to mention an unfavorable case even though he himself was counsel in that case. Yet another referred to opposing counsel as “Nazis and redneck pepper-woods.” And various other attorneys drafted a proposed order with a first sentence that’s nearly four pages long, filed a complaint that the court called a “hideous sprawling mess,” cited a dissent as controlling authority, or copied another lawyer’s brief.

When you compare all these alleged ethical breaches with the penalties they provoked, what are a few of the behaviors that seem to irk judges most?

Read more at the ATL Career Center….

Back in October, we brought you news of some wild and crazy accusations that were lodged against two Boalt Hall law students. Specifically, Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira allegedly committed some “fowl play” — the killing of an exotic bird, a helmeted guinea fowl — at the wildlife habitat at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas.

These guys aren’t going to have a very happy new year, because after more than two months of silence from Clark County District Attorney’s Office following their October arrest, the pair were formally charged yesterday.

What were they charged with, and how much jail time will they face if they’re convicted?

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Tom Wallerstein

For as far back as I can remember, the arrival of a new year has been an occasion for me to reflect on my life, where it has gone, and where it appears to be going. Many times I would spend New Year’s Eve simply being grateful; more recently, it has been an occasion to try to see a little furthur [sic].

This year, for the second consecutive year, our firm was approached by an Am Law 100 firm to explore the potential of our being acquired or otherwise merging. These overtures are flattering. They also intensify my annual ritual of considering my path and the choices I have made.

I have written before about some of the differences between Biglaw and small. My perception of those differences, however, has changed quite a bit in the nearly four years since I left Biglaw to help start a boutique firm. Our firm also has changed so much from one year to the next that my calculus of the pros and cons of Biglaw also has changed….

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RIP, Turk.

* “I’m sorry Ms. Jackson, I am for real. Never meant to make your planet cry, I apologize a trillion times,” is likely what Barack Obama told Lisa Jackson when he found out she was stepping down as EPA administrator. [New York Times]

* Cook County, Illinois, is experiencing problems wherein the kookiest of judges get “electoral mulligans” every six years. Public humiliation and harsh ratings might be a great way to finally put an end to this practice. [Chicago Magazine]

* Another way to get revenge against the schools that screwed grads with their allegedly misleading employment stats: disciplinary action for ethical violations committed by those licensed to practice law. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, unless you’re accused of being a murderer birderer. Boalt Hall law students Justin Teixeira and Eric Cuellar have now been criminally charged for their alleged roles in the decapitation of an exotic bird. [Las Vegas Sun]

* Harvard Law is offering a free online copyright class, and anyone can enroll — even 13-year-olds. This may be your only chance to take a course at an Ivy League school, so hurry up and apply. [National Law Journal]

* George Zimmerman and his lawyer are being sued by a private detective for failure to pay $27K for security services, which included a detailed escape plan to get the murder defendant into a hidey-hole. [Boston Herald]

Zhang Ziyi

* I don’t fully understand this story, but it involves the beautiful and deadly Zhang Ziyi and a SLAPP suit. [Techdirt]

* I’m interested in who Andrew Cuomo appoints to the New York Court of Appeals, just because I’m interested in how Cuomo picks judges. You know, just because 2016-2020 could be an interesting time when it comes to shifting the balance of power on the Supreme Court. [WiseLaw NY]

* A Holland & Knight partner is leaving to start teaching an “Indigent Defense” class at Georgetown. I’m not sure who is teaching the companion class: “Blood From A Rock: How To Get Fees Out Of Indigent Clients.” [Legal Blog Watch]

* I swear I was absent the day they explained that the NRA is the fifth branch of government in civics class. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Mmm… negative liberty. [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* This seems like a good time to say that I watch This Week with George Stephanopoulos instead of Meet the Press. But I really think that DCPD has better things to do than investigate David Gregory’s ammo clip prop. [Slate]

Merry Christmas, Quinn Emanuel billers.

Yesterday, we talked about the Quinn Emanuel bonuses. Many associates were angry, especially those who had billed a lot of hours in 2012. For some of those top billers, their bonuses were smaller than the same amount of work was worth last year.

Well, advocate and thou shalt receive. Quinn Emanuel just sent around a memo announcing that it will be increasing the top-end payments, to bring them in line with last year…

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Last week, we asked readers to submit possible captions for this photo:

Let’s have a look at what our readers came up with, and then vote on the finalists….

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