ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol medium.jpg
Six lawyers, currently or formerly at large law firms, hoping to make the jump to the writing life (read: working in pajamas). One leading legal tabloid, in need of its next lead editor. A mass of angry anonymous commenters, looking for someone new with whom to have a love-hate relationship.
“THIS…. is ATL Idol.”
It’s a reality-show-style competition, in which site readers will pick the new editor in chief of — the recipient of some 3 million page views a month, described by the Washington Post as “a must-read legal blog.” We believe it to be the first time that a full-time blogging gig — one with a salary you can live on, health insurance, and even a 401(k) — has been awarded through a “reality blogging” contest.
Back in May, we posted a help wanted ad for a new full-time writer here at Above the Law. Over the weeks that followed, we received a slew of excellent applications. We also located additional prospects through personal networking. All in all, we probably considered almost 100 talented candidates.
We narrowed the list down to six highly impressive finalists. But we found the prospect of choosing just one of them to be agonizing.
So we’ve decided to outsource this task to you, the readership of Above the Law. Over the next three weeks, the finalists will blog on ATL, for your consideration. Just as they would on a true reality TV show, the “assignments” will vary from week to week (details about them to follow).
Each Friday, we will open the polls, allowing you to vote for your favorite — the blogger you’d like to see take the helm at this venerable legal tabloid. At the end of week one, the bottom two out of six finalists — the pair of contestants with the fewest votes — will be eliminated. Next week, the reader vote will take four finalists down to two. In the third and final week, the two finalists will go head to head, in a legal blogging deathmatch. Your votes will determine the winner, Above the Law’s new leader.
ATL readers are an opinionated bunch, so we expect you to have strong views about the contestants (which you should feel free to share in the comments). But to those of you who need more guidance when voting, fear not. Just like American Idol, ATL Idol will provide you with three “celebrity judges,” to offer their expert opinions of the contestants’ blogging, and to inform and guide the electorate.
Our judges, who are all leading legal bloggers in their own right, need no introduction. But we’ll introduce them anyway, briefly. They are (in alphabetical order):

  • 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).
    Our impressive panel is well-balanced, featuring representatives from three major groups of legal bloggers: one law professor, one practicing lawyer, and one professional journalist. We’ll leave it to you to decide — perhaps based on how caustic their commentary is — who’s Simon, who’s Randy, and who’s Paula.
    Update: Professor Althouse emphatically rejects any suggestion that she’ll be the Paula Abdul of this contest. This is just as well; when we invited Dahlia Lithwick to serve as a judge, she called “dibs” on Paula.
    Check back later today, when we’ll post brief bios of the six finalists. And check back throughout this week – and, of course, over the next three weeks – to figure out which writers you love, and which you’d leave. The identity of ATL’s next editor rests in your hands.
    We’re expecting this contest to be fun and exciting. Please spread the word to your friends and colleagues. And once the polls are open, we pass along to you the exhortation of Ryan Seacrest: “America, don’t forget to vote!”
    Update: The bios of the finalists are now posted over here.
    Earlier: Help Wanted: ATL Seeks A New Writer

  • A clear winner emerged from the 2499 votes on ATL’s Tighty-Whities caption contest:

    lawyer in white briefs attorney underwear.jpg

    “And now my junior partner has something he’d like to say…”

    The man in the photo is David Remes, a partner at Covington & Burling — but not for long, as reported by the Legal Times. From the WSJ Law Blog:

    David Remes, who made Law Blog headlines last week for removing his pants at a news conference in Yemen, is leaving the firm, according to the Legal Times, which reported the news over the weekend. Remes will reportedly devote himself exclusively to human rights litigation.

    Last week, we reported that Remes (Columbia, Harvard Law), who’s representing 15 Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay, removed his pants at a news conference in Yemen. Remes was attempting to demonstrate what he feels are the inappropriate body searches that detainees are undergoing several times per day.

    “At the press conference in Yemen — this is a society where the rule of morality is so strict — I wanted to drive home the degree of humiliation that these searches cause by illustrating a typical body search,” Remes told the LB.

    Biglaw doesn’t like seeing those kinds of briefs.

    Remes Resigns from Covington & Burling [BLT]
    David Remes, Who Dropped His Pants in Yemen, to Leave Covington [Wall Street Journal Law Blog]

    Earlier: ‘Tighty-Whities’ Caption Contest Finalists

    lawyer in white briefs attorney underwear.jpgWe’re currently running a caption contest for the photo at right. We’re not the only ones with an ongoing legally-themed caption contest. If one flips to the back of the current infamous New Yorker issue, the cartoon for their caption contest (Contest #153) is set in a courtroom. We’ll keep an eye on that contest, and issue an opinion on the finalists when they are announced.

    We prefer not to give you the context for caption contest photos, but the background on this one is as exposed as the lawyer in the photo. It’s up on Yahoo! News, the WSJ Law Blog, and the ABA Journal, among other places. It got more publicity over the weekend, with the news that David Remes, the pants-dropping partner in the picture, is leaving Covington & Burling (as reported by the Legal Times; see also the WSJ, via New York magazine).

    We’re pushing on with the contest, since we had over 200 entries. These are our finalists:

    A. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief…”
    B. “Million Dollar Pants Lawsuit: Part 2″
    C. “Ya know, John, I think the school board had something else in mind when they asked for an assembly on the how the penal system works.”
    D. “Having been found guilty of malpractice, the lawyer literally had his pants sued off.”
    E. “Another unsuccessful effort to get ‘junk’ science before the jury.”
    F. “And now my junior partner has something he’d like to say…”
    G. “[Y]our honor, i thought you said you wanted to take a closer look at the briefs.”
    H. “You think that jury was hung?”
    I. “Counsel, the phrase ‘may it please the court’ is NOT a literal request.”
    J. “Other Van Winkle Law Firm partners have expressed concern that Joe represented his favorite extracurricular activity a little too enthusiastically in his ‘Meet Joe’ bio photo.”

    Earlier: ATL Caption Contest: Tighty-Whities

    Pig Trial.jpgLast week, we offered you this courtroom scene photo (without context) and asked for caption submissions. Humor, unlike justice, is not blind. Here is our completely subjective list of the top ten finalists. You get to vote for the best one.

    A. It was John’s first–and last–pro bono matter.

    B. “You see, Your Honor, my client’s house was blown down without even so much as a Notice of Condemnation!”

    C. Your honor, the fact that Kermit’s finger smells like bacon IS relevant.

    D. Res Ipsa Porquitor

    E. All rise for his honor, Judge Wolf.

    F. In a shocking deviation from its preference for the electric chair, the defendant (right) was sentenced by the Texas court to a three-hour roasting at 350 degrees, Jack Daniels style.

    G. On trial for drugs and prostitution, Babe found himself following the path of Feldman, Haim, Diamond and so many other child actors who came before him.

    H. Frat Stud (left) sits in disbelief as the court disregards his “Pigs in my high school used to commit serial murder all the time and then claim that they are incapable of prosecution under state criminal law because they are not human all the time, it was no big deal” defense.

    I. Hold on counsel, let me guess … insanity defense?

    J. Jim was horrified to learn that cocounsel had not read the section of Scalia and Garner’s new book on oral argument that he had highlighted – “dress appropriately and bear yourself with dignity.”

    The poll closes Tuesday night at 2 a.m. PST. We’ll give you the winner, as well as the story behind the photo, on Wednesday.

    Earlier: ATL Gives You A Real Caption Contest

    Latham Coolest.jpgOver 2000 votes are in. It’s you, Latham & Watkins! Latham’s the “coolest,” baby! By a .6% margin.
    One of our readers from Cleary an unnamed firm expressed disappointment in the poll’s closing at midnight PST instead of EST. ATL believes in time zone equity and refused to exercise a New York East Coast bias.
    The caveat on this ATL tournament is that Latham is the “coolest” law firm in the Vault’s top sixteen, due to our arbitrary tournament selection for the Sweet Sixteen. There was some complaining about the tournament in the comments section, but we think you guiltily and secretly loved it. At least, 2000 of you did. Should the ATL tournament start with 64 firms next time?
    Maybe Latham will use the 2008 ATL title of “coolest” firm in their recruiting next year. We sure hope so.
    The voting map surprised us, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March April Madness: And the winner is…”

    cleary.jpg VERSUS Latham & Watkins.jpg
    We had over 4900 votes in the “ATL Law Firm Final Four” this weekend. Latham & Watkins and Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton emerged as the winners and will now go head to head to determine which is the “coolest” law firm. During commercial breaks in the NCAA basketball final tonight between the University of Memphis and the University of Kansas, come to ATL and vote. Or just vote throughout the day and bill it to “firm development.”
    We’ve given Latham a Memphis player’s image. If Memphis wins tonight, it will be the first national champion from outside a major conference since 1990. Since Latham was the only non-New York law firm to make the final four, we think they would sympathize. Cleary got a Kansas player’s image… because they both start with a hard “c” sound. Sports analysis is not our forte at ATL.
    The polls close at midnight. Cast your vote here:

    Die-hard fans can learn more about the Final Four results, and see the updated brackets, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March April Madness for Law Firms, Final Round: Cleary vs. Latham”

    Congratulations, Anonymous! You are the ATL Caption Contest winner for this photo of President Bush with his White House Counsel, Fred Fielding (dressed up as the Easter Bunny):

    After ignoring the rule of law for seven years, President Bush finally found a use for the White House Counsel.

    Easter Bunny and Potus.jpg
    The runner-up is:

    The Mad Hatter and the March Hare discuss the legality of waterboarding the Dormouse.

    And the write-in winner, by popular demand, is:

    Things I don’t believe in.

    Thanks for voting. Now, back to real legal news… like the ATL Law Firm March Madness final game!
    Earlier: ATL Caption Contest Finalists: Mr. Easter Bunny and POTUS

    The #1-seed, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, hath fallen, along with all of the other top-seeded law firms, in an Elite Eight that was good for “underdog” lovers. Heading into the Final Four are Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton (#7), Davis Polk & Wardwell (#5), Latham & Watkins (#8), and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett (#6).
    It’s anybody’s game. Here are the updated brackets:
    Final Four copy.jpg
    Time to vote down to the two “coolest” firms, defining “cool” however you please. Polls and information on the Elite Eight voting are available after the jump. Polls close Sunday at midnight!

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March April Madness for Law Firms, Round 3: Upsets Galore Heading Into the Final Four”

    Mr_Easter_Bunny.jpgSome of you have wondered about the delay in choosing finalists for the ATL Caption Contest. We did not forget about it; we just wanted to save a little Easter for April, the proper month for the holiday. Easter in March is just plain wrong.
    As a refresher, this is the photo of President Bush and his White House Counsel — Fred Fielding, former senior partner at Wiley Rein (fka Wiley Rein & Fielding), dressed up as the Easter Bunny — at the White House Easter Egg Roll last month. Without further ado, out of 200 comments, these are our ten finalists. [FN1]
    A. “I left a firm with over $4 million in PPP to do THIS???” -Anonymous
    B. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare discuss the legality of waterboarding the Dormouse. -Klerk
    C. “Mr. President, I wanted to let you know that I put the last of those White House e-mails down the rabbit hole.” -Anonymous
    D. Yeah, well, nobody wants to be the guy that told the POTUS there is no Easter Bunny and Cheney said that if I play along I’ll get a Supreme Court nomination. Hey, whatever happened with that Harriet woman? -Anonymous
    E. I dressed up in this bunny suit and all I got was a feature on ATL. -Anonymous
    F. After ignoring the rule of law for seven years, President Bush finally found a use for the White House Counsel. -Anonymous
    G. “Someone please tell me that’s not a wombat behind me.” -Anonymous
    H. I guess that answers the question of whether its better to get a JD or an MBA. -Anonymous
    I. Fred (thinking): “That f-n headhunter promised me I would be supporting the President on matters of national importance. G-d D-MN it!” -Anonymous
    J. George: Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
    Bunny: Why do you wear that stupid man suit? -133t
    We invite you to vote for the winner after the jump. Poll closes at midnight tomorrow.
    [FN1] There were many funny comments, but we exercised a bias in favor of those with a legal connection.
    Earlier: ATL Caption Contest: Mr. Easter Bunny, White House Counsel Fred Fielding
    The rabbit behind the man: White House counsel Fred Fielding [Washington Post]

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Caption Contest Finalists: Mr. Easter Bunny and POTUS”

    There’s been some belly-aching about ATL Law Firm March Madness, but over 2300 people voted, so we shall press on! According to your votes, eight law firms have been chosen to advance. Here are the updated brackets:
    Elite Eight.jpg
    Now it’s time again to vote for the “cooler” firm, defining “cool” however you like. We appreciate your definitions via comment. Polls to determine the Final Four, and more information on the Sweet Sixteen match-ups, are available after the jump. Polls close at midnight.
    Earlier: ATL March April Madness for Law Firms, Round 1: The Sweet Sixteen

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March April Madness for Law Firms, Round 2: The Elitist Elite Eight”

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