ATL Idol

avatar Frolic and Detour ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This is the farewell post of FROLIC & DETOUR, who was recently eliminated from ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that picked ATL's new editor. It is marked with F&D's avatar (at right).]
I’ve speculated about whether Sophist and I know each other. Well, we do. We wrote the HLS Parody together. Now I know that Shawn Johnson wasn’t BSing when she said she was thrilled that her team finished 1-2 in the all-around. I got the silver, but they’re playing my national anthem.
Shortly after Elie won his job, I accepted an offer I’d been hoping for. As soon as I wind things up at the firm, I’ll be starting a new job in the law school world. Gold on beam! I think this worked out the right way for everyone. Thanks for the ride.

Elie Mystal Elie Ying Mystal Above the Law editor.jpgMy name is ELIE YING MYSTAL, f/k/a SOPHIST, and it looks like I will be taking over day-to-day editorial responsibilities here at Above the Law.
I would like to thank everybody who read anything that I’ve written over the past three weeks. I’ve always found writing to be a deeply personal experience and so I truly appreciate it when somebody bothers to read my work. Whether any of you actually liked it is a different question entirely, but one that we can work on together.
I’d also like to applaud the other contestants for their efforts. The best writing and journalism is almost always a collaborative process. I was impressed with what the other contestants were able to produce without the editors and other colleagues available to most professional writers. I hope this contest has given you all additional confidence about your own skills and talents.
I intend to rely heavily on the structures already in place here at ATL during this transition and beyond. I will learn everything I can from David Lat short of going “Sylar” with his brain. I was ecstatic to learn that many of the regular contributors to this site will be staying on. I will read as many comments as time allows, and try to draw out the “constructive” aspects hidden among the criticism.
I want to get better at this, and I will take advice on how to accomplish that in whatever form it is available.
More about me after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “And Now The Hard Part
(Or: Meet ATL’s incoming editor.)”

ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol medium.jpg
Apologies for the delay. We had to wait for Vizu to certify the poll results as anomaly-free, which they just did.
avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpgCongratulations to the winner of our ATL Idol “reality blogging” competition, who will become Above the Law’s new editor-in-chief: SOPHIST!!! With almost 1900 votes cast, SOPHIST (avatar at right) prevailed over your other finalist, FROLIC AND DETOUR, by a 60-40 margin.
In a subsequent post, Sophist will introduce himself to the readership in more detail. The handover of day-to-day editorial duties will take place sometime later this month.
Based on some of your comments, we’d like to clarify two things.
First, we will continue to write for Above the Law and to play an active role in its development. As reported in the Legal Times and FishbowlNY, among other places, we’re moving into the position of Managing Editor for Breaking Media, ATL’s parent company. Part of our new job includes overseeing Above the Law. So we’ll be working closely with Sophist to take Above the Law to ever greater heights (or lows, as appropriate). We will continue to blog for ATL, perhaps in a column of some sort, as well as on other occasions (e.g., coverage of events we attend; additional support during busy news periods; filling in for Sophist when he goes on vacation).
Second, your faithful Associate Editor, Kashmir Hill, will also still write for the site. Although she did not wish to be considered for the EIC position — for more on why, see her personal blog — she will remain as an active presence here. The same is true of ATL’s other contributors, including our surveys guru, Justin Bernold, and our Legal Eagle Wedding Watcher, Laurie Lin. Many of the things you enjoy about ATL will remain unchanged.
As we previously mentioned, the ATL Idol contest was a huge hit here at ATL, by a variety of measures (including traffic / pageviews, reader comments, and revenue). We thank our six finalists for their excellent efforts, as well as everyone else who expressed interest in the position; our three guest judges, Ann Althouse, Tom Goldstein, and Dahlia Lithwick; and you, our readers, who enlivened the contest with your commentary — and who picked the winner, with your votes.
Once again, congratulations to SOPHIST. He survived three weeks of grueling guest blogging, including tough love from the celebrity judges, hard knocks from the commenters, and formidable competition from the other finalists. He is clearly ready for the challenge of taking ATL into a new and even more glorious era. (And since you picked him, you are estopped from criticizing him in the comments.)
Please extend a warm welcome to SOPHIST — and to Above the Law 2.0!
Earlier: Prior ATL Idol coverage (scroll down)

ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol smaller.jpgThe three weeks of guest blogging by the talented contestants of ATL Idol have all come down to this: a final showdown between SOPHIST and FROLIC AND DETOUR. The winner will become the next editor of Above the Law.
In case you’re curious, the ATL Idol contest has been awesome for ATL. July, the month in which it launched, was our best ever (in terms of traffic and revenue). And if the second half of this month is as strong as the first, August will surpass it. A few commenters haven’t been fans of the competition. But by all the standard metrics, it has been a smashing success — thanks to our contestants, our guest judges, and you, our readers.
Before we open the polls, a methodological note. Like the Supreme Court in Reynolds v. Sims, we believe in the principle of “one person, one vote.” Please vote only once (and refrain from casting multiple votes using bots, scripts, and other things that aren’t human).
There have been allegations of multiple voting in prior rounds. Unlike the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, we’re not inclined to wade into electoral messes after the fact; what’s past is past.
But because the stakes are higher for this final round, we’re asking Vizu, host of the poll, to review the results for possible improprieties. We won’t announce the winner until after we receive the results of their analysis. Suspicious votes — including, but not limited to, hundreds of votes from the same IP address — will not be counted.
Enough lawyerly caveats; time to vote. Voting will end on MONDAY, AUGUST 18, at noon (Eastern time). GOOD LUCK!!!

Earlier: Prior ATL Idol coverage (scroll down)

ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol smaller.jpgATL Idol, the “reality blogging” competition in which you will select the next editor of Above the Law, is nearing its end. The original six contestants have been winnowed down to two finalists: FROLIC AND DETOUR and SOPHIST.
We’ll open the polls later today. But first, let’s hear from your celebrity judges:
ATL Idol Judges AboveTheLaw Idol Above the Law Idol panel.jpg

  • Ann Althouse, Robert W. & Irma M. Arthur-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and author of her eponymous blog, Althouse;
  • Tom Goldstein, head of the D.C. litigation practice and co-head of the firm-wide Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump, and founder of SCOTUSblog; and
  • Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate (where she blogged at Convictions), author of two books, and a contributor to the New York Times and the Washington Post (among many other publications).
    See what they have to say about the last two competitors, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Idol: The Judges Speak (Week 3)”

  • Update / Clarification: Some commenters have complained about a formatting problem in an earlier version of this post. If you encountered this formatting problem, it’s time for you to enter the 21st century, ditch Internet Explorer, and adopt a better browser, like Firefox (download it here). Or get a Mac.
    But just for the record, the formatting error was your editor’s fault, not that of FROLIC & DETOUR. We apologize for the mistake (which you should not hold against F&D).
    After Tuesday’s discussion, readers submitted some beautiful examples of the bureaucratic glory that is character and fitness:

    On my 2003 application I reported that I had lived in one location until “June 1996″ and another location starting “July 1996.” I got a call saying I had failed to account for where I lived for almost two months. When I asked them what they meant, they said they were missing addresses for the period between June 2, 1996 and July 30, 1996.

    I got grief from C&F for failing to disclose a citation for failure to wear a seatbelt. It was a $10 ticket that I got 6 years before applying to the bar.

    And my personal favorite:

    When asked why I left the Dean campaign I wrote “Iowa, the Scream.” They asked for more details.

    Thanks for the stories. But since this is the last post of ATL Idol, I’m cutting to the chase. It was clear from Tuesday’s comments that readers were more interested in my character than in character & fitness. So let’s talk about that.
    To clear up some misconceptions, I’m not Miss Alli/Linda Holmes. I have a B.A. and J.D. from Harvard, and I don’t know whether I know Sophist. I really did interview fired biglaw partners who knew I was writing for ATL (Lat knows who they are). I’m done with legal practice whether I’m the Idol or not. And whatever happens this weekend, I’m grateful to all the voters who think my garbage stinks a little bit less than the competition’s garbage. I feel like a bacterium that survived a three-week penicillin bath.
    avatar Frolic and Detour ATL Idol.jpgFinally, I have to address the reader accusation that I am an anti-Semite. I have to admit, this one is true. Those schmucks in my mishpocheh give me nothing but tsuris.
    [Ed. note: This post is by FROLIC & DETOUR, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Frolic & Detour's avatar (at right).]

    On Tuesday, I profiled worthless classes that most everybody had to take. Today, the readers weigh in on classes that allow law schools to bilk you for additional years full of totally useless information.
    Many commenters also suggested which lessons law students should really be focusing on, if they want to succeed in Biglaw.
    With an honorable mention to “Elements of the Law,” after the jump, I rank the classes readers can do without, and the replacements that everyone needs.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Back to School: What is the Most Worthless Class You Could Have Avoided?”

    WilmerHale Wilmer Hale billing rate.jpgWe know that attorneys at top firms like WilmerHale can charge stunning rates — up to $750 an hour for litigation chair Howard Shapiro.
    But if you ask them, that’s a bargain.
    Wilmer moved for an award of attorneys’ fees after winning a $90 million verdict in a False Claims Act case. The usual lodestar method of calculating fees, logically enough, is to multiply the attorneys’ standard billing rates by the number of hours they spent on the case. But Wilmer argued that its standard billing rates grossly undervalue the superhuman skills of its legal team. It asked the court to perform the lodestar calculation and then award twice the result in attorneys’ fees. In other words, according to Wilmer, its clients who pay by the hour get a 50% discount off the true value of the work.
    Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the district court in D.C. didn’t buy the idea that Wilmer’s entire litigation practice is a pro bono program in disguise. The judge kicked Wilmer around for 169 pages before putting the fee petition to rest. He wondered why, if the attorneys had such extraordinary abilities, it took so many of them to get the job done:

    Assigning eleven different attorneys to work on one deposition, however crucial the witness, can hardly be characterized as efficient. . . . WilmerHale [used] fifty-two lawyers and thirty paralegals in this case.

    Judge Lamberth further ruled that Wilmer’s record-keeping was too vague and sloppy to support awarding even the lodestar amount. Plaintiff’s counsel in the McAfee v. WilmerHale overbilling case must be kicking themselves for not filing in Washington.
    Judge Lamberth did note that the members of the Wilmer team were “graduates of prestigious law schools and/or former judicial clerks.” But apparently even members of the Elect — including Mike Gottlieb (OT 2004 / Stevens), Jonathan Cedarbaum (OT 1998 / Souter), and Robert Bell (OT 1981 / White) — aren’t worth $1000+ an hour.
    avatar Frolic and Detour ATL Idol.jpgWilmer’s going to be OK; they’ll get about $7 million of the $20 million they asked for. But we should feel some sympathy all the same. It must be tough to hear that you’re only worth 100% of what the market will bear.
    [Ed. note: This post is by FROLIC & DETOUR, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Frolic & Detour's avatar (at right).]

    Deborah Epstein Henry.JPGThis week, Working Mother magazine, in association with Flex-Time Lawyers, released its second annual Best Law Firms for Women rankings.
    Some of the firms on this year’s list are notorious sweatshops, more likely to help women freeze their eggs than they are to aid either sex in raising a family.
    I contacted Deborah Epstein Henry (pictured), founder and president of Flex-Time Lawyers and co-author of the list. Henry said that her results reflect more than firm PR. The rankings score firm programs based on how many attorneys actually use those programs.
    In Henry’s view, ranking the best law firms for women is more than just a women’s issue.
    “What we are looking for is firms that have work/life policies that are both gender- and racial [sic] reason-neutral,” Henry said. “I firmly believe that the more we can move work/life issues away from being a ‘mommy’s issue’ the better off we’ll be.”
    More on Henry’s efforts to make law firms responsive to lifestyle concerns after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Woman’s Place Is… At Cravath”

    We’re down to your last two ATL Idols: FROLIC AND DETOUR and SOPHIST. It’s time for them to face off in the third and final head-to-head round of ATL Idol, the reality-TV-style talent search for Above the Law’s new editor. You know the drill, but if you’re just tuning in, here’s how this round will work:

    ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol smaller.jpgThe head-to-head round is designed to serve as a test of pure writing ability. We’ll publish the contestants’ different takes on the same (assigned) story. The head-to-head round is designed to show how the bloggers write up the same story, to eliminate any advantage from story selection. Story selection is an important skill for bloggers, but it’s one that the contestants have demonstrated in their features and freestyle posts.

    Just like the past two weeks, this round will be reviewed by ATL’s panel of celebrity judges: Ann Althouse, Tom Goldstein, and Dahlia Lithwick.
    Check out the bloggers’ contributions, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Idol: Week 3, Head-to-Head Round”

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