As 2013 draws to a close, let’s look back at the 10 biggest stories in the legal profession over the past year. This is an annual tradition here at Above the Law, which we’ve done in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. We’ll fire up the old Google Analytics machine to get data on our most popular posts, based on pageviews, and share the results with you.
Before turning to specific stories, let’s look at the top general discussion topics here at ATL. For 2013, our most trafficked category page was Biglaw, which bumped Law Schools out of the top spot — a spot that Law Schools held from 2010 through 2012. Now that the word is out about the perils of getting a law degree, leading to plummeting applications, perhaps it’s time to move on from the “don’t go to law school” narrative.
After Biglaw and Law Schools, our third most-popular category page was, as usual, Bonuses. This wasn’t a terribly exciting year for bonuses — there were no spring bonuses, and Cravath and its many followers paid out the same bonuses as last year — but people still want to know the score.
Our fourth most-popular category page was small law firms. Small firms, including boutiques, are an area of increasing focus and readership for us — and also where many of the job opportunities are these days.
Moving on from the topic pages, what were the 10 most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2013?
Here are our top 10 stories for 2013, in ascending order of popularity, measured in pageviews. Click on the title of each post to be taken to the original story.
10. The Racist Law Firm Ad Update — The Maligned Law Firm Speaks: After a racist law firm advertisement went viral, we played a role in clarifying the situation. We published a statement from the law firm in question — McCutcheon & Hamner, a small personal-injury firm in Alabama — denying its involvement in producing the highly offensive YouTube clip.
9. Did Lamar Odom Cheat On Khloe Kardashian With A Lawyer? Reality TV star Khloe Kardashian recently declared that she’s “excited for this year to be over” — just like her marriage to NBA player Lamar Odom, which ended in 2013. A contributing cause: Odom’s alleged affair with a gorgeous California lawyer, Polina Polonsky, who allegedly asked Odom to help her review client files. Oy!
8. Nationwide Layoff Watch: Major Cuts Come To Weil Gotshal: The Kardashian-Odom split wasn’t the only soap opera that generated headlines this past year. People tuned in for As The Weil Turns — upheaval at the high-powered law firm of Weil Gotshal, kicked off by large-scale layoffs in June. The following months witnessed a slew of partner defections, especially in Texas (although the firm maintains that this is strategic and intentional shrinkage). Can Weil stop the bleeding in 2014?
7. Breaking: Cravath Announces Year-End Bonuses; Let the 2013 Bonus Season Begin! The bonus announcement of Cravath, the extremely prestigious and profitable law firm that sets the market for Biglaw bonuses, always lands in the top 10 stories (last year it was #5). This year, Elie Mystal and I argued over whether the bonus glass was half-empty or half-full.
6. Which State Has the Most Difficult Bar Exam? Professor Robert Anderson of Pepperdine Law developed a methodology for ranking bar exams by toughness. Which state’s test took the top spot? Hint: it wasn’t New York (which didn’t even make the top 10).
5. Lawyer: Apple Should Protect Me From My Porn Addiction: Blocking web users from accessing porn: there’s an app for that? Well, if not, there should be — or so claims lawyer Chris Sevier, who filed a pro se lawsuit that, as Joe Patrice put it, “seeks damages and injunctive relief against Apple for making devices that can display porn, or as the rest of us call it, the Internet.” More recently, Sevier sued President Obama for alleged involvement in the Duck Dynasty debacle.
4. The 2014 U.S. News Law School Rankings: Lawyers love rankings — and U.S. News’s closely watched law school rankings are the biggest game in town. As law schools fight over a shrinking pool of law students, a law school’s position on the prestige totem pole is more important than ever.
3. Biglaw Memo From Top Firm Advises That Women ‘Don’t Giggle,’ Don’t ‘Show Cleavage’: Clifford Chance, a member of the elite Magic Circle, is one of the world’s top law firms — not just in profits and prestige, but also in generating juicy memos. Last year, its famous Law Firm Mommy Memo took the #3 spot; this year, the firm holds on to third place, with a controversial collection of “Presentation Tips For Women” that Staci Zaretsky described as “one of the most sexist Biglaw memos we’ve ever seen.”
2. The ATL Top 50 Law School Rankings (2013): The U.S. News law school rankings might be the biggest game in town (for now), but they aren’t the only one. In our inaugural law school rankings, we stripped out dubious factors like library size or money
wasted spent per student to focus on what really matters: employment outcomes, i.e., jobs for graduates. Based on the great traffic and reader feedback we received, our rankings were a huge hit, and we’ll be doing them again in 2014.
1. A Great Response to a Cease and Desist Letter: The cease-and-desist response heard round the world, this rip-roaring rebuttal — a delicious combination of snark and substance — went viral. What could be more satisfying than watching a bullying lawyer get a taste of his own medicine? The letter kicked off a trend of awesome C&D responses — see, e.g., here and here.
We hope you enjoyed this look back at the 10 most popular stories of 2013. If you have a favorite Above the Law story from the past year that didn’t crack the top ten, please feel free to give it a mention in the comments.
And now for a brief programming note: Since Wednesday is the federal holiday for New Year’s Day, we won’t be publishing much (if at all) between now and Thursday, January 2 (although we might do some tweeting). Happy New Year, and we’ll see you in 2014!
 For purposes of this listing, intended to serve as a look back at 2013’s biggest stories, we did not count posts published in 2012 that racked up major traffic in 2013 — e.g., Cam Girl Pleasures Herself In A Top Law School’s Library.
Earlier: Above the Law’s Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2012
Above The Law’s Top 10 Most Popular Stories of 2011
Above The Law’s Top 10 Most Popular Stories of 2010
Above The Law’s Top 10 Most Popular Stories of 2009