larry wood.jpgWe know many lawyers who agonize over the New Yorker magazine’s weekly caption contest, desperately hoping to come up with a gnomic, witty caption worthy of selection. But we know of only one lawyer who has managed to come up with a winning caption three times. Let us introduce you to Larry Wood, an attorney at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.
Wood, who also teaches a housing and poverty law class at the University of Chicago, has won the weekly contest more often than anyone else. (A slight technicality: A man by the name of Carl Gable has won three times, but one of those was the New Yorker’s annual contest, which has since been replaced by the weekly contests.)
Out of 38 submissions in the four-year history of the contest, Wood’s made it to the finals three times. That’s mighty impressive, given that he’s competing against at least 5,000 other caption entries each week, reports Steve Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. So how’d he do it? Here’s what he told us on the phone this morning:

Short is better. Incorporate everything that’s in the cartoon. In one cartoon I was working with, there was a dolphin and a panhandler. So I thought of all the cliches I could think of about dolphins and about panhandlers. Dolphins are extremely intelligent, etc. Then I came up with the caption that won. My colleagues thought it was a mean-spirited joke for a poverty lawyer to make.

Maybe lawyers have advantages in the caption contests. As one friend of ours noted in response to Wood’s advice, “incorporating all the elements into your answer is actually a skill lawyers are supposed to use in their bar exam essays (and law school tort exams).”
Check out Wood’s winners, including the controversial caption, after the jump.

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Voting has ended for last week’s Couple of the Month polls, so it’s time to announce the winners. The January poll was extremely close; the February and March crowns were captured decisively by couples associated with the Obama machine and the Kennedy dynasty, respectively.

Check out the results, after the jump.

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Law Revue Video Contest.jpgIt’s the moment (some of) you have been waiting for. We’re ready to announce the six finalists in ATL’s First Ever Law Revue Video Contest.

We received many (many, many) submissions. We ordered sushi delivered to our SoHo office and pulled Biglaw hours to watch them all. As you may imagine, after many (many, many) hours of videos, our eyes were starting to glaze over, our ears were beginning to bleed, and our appreciation for the delicate intersection of legalese and funnies was beginning to fade.

But these six videos managed to shine through all that and make us laugh. Earlier this week, we gave you the (Dis)Honorable Mentions. (Excuse our harsh judging of those — we enjoyed channeling the acerbity of ATL commenters.) Now, we give you the finalists, hailing from NYU (2), UVA (2), Boston University, and Northeastern School of Law. We dare you to try to watch them without wetting your pants with laughter. Or at least emitting a little chuckle.

We’re also asking you to choose your favorite. Find the videos after the jump, and take our reader poll to help crown the first winner of the ATL’s Inaugural Law Revue Contest. Polls close Sunday at midnight.

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The Finalists

Above the law march madness.jpgTonight, the “real” Sweet Sixteen games will play out on NCAA courts. Here at ATL, the NCAA-styled ATL March Madness for Law Firms continues. Sixteen firms remain in the tournament hoping to be crowned Biglaw’s safest — the place where you’re least likely to get laid off.

Thirty-two firms entered the tournament, based on Vault prestige rankings. Thousands of ATL readers voted to eliminate sixteen firms in the first round. There was only one upset of a higher-ranked seed: Linklaters (V26) beat Latham (V7). The Magic Circle firm’s magic run may not last though. Kirkland has a solid lead over the UK-based firm at the moment.

Will there be more upsets in the Sweet Sixteen? Over 4,000 votes are in since voting started on Tuesday and two of the contests are nail-biters: Skadden vs Paul Weiss and Davis Polk vs Debevoise.

Check out the brackets and vote on the next four match-ups, after the jump.

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Above the law march madness.jpgLast week, we brought you our NCAA-tournament style March Madness for Law Firms. We took the top 32 firms from the Vault prestige ratings and asked you to vote on which firms were the “safest” — the places where you’re least likely to get laid off.

After Round One, we’re down to the Sweet (Safe) Sixteen.

The higher-ranked teams firms won in all of last week’s contests but one: Magic Circle firm Linklaters (V26) upset 2008 March Madness tournament champ Latham (V7). Sadly, Latham’s bench was not as deep this year. Apparently, voters disagreed with this line of reasoning.

There were two particularly close matches. As predicted by one commenter:

Gibson v Wilmer in the first round is gonna be a close race.

Gibson Dunn won out, but barely, while Kirkland eked out a victory over Jones Day.

The most popular match with 6226 votes was Ropes & Gray vs Davis Polk & Wardwell. Check out which firms advanced, and vote on the first four match-ups of the Sweet Sixteen round, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March Madness for Law Firms, Round 2 (Part 1): The Sweet Sixteen”

Above the law march madness.jpgWe started our ATL March Madness for Law Firms on Tuesday. Through this NCAA-style tournament, with brackets and seeding, we will crown Biglaw’s safest firm — the place where you’re least likely to get laid off. Yes, we know it’s irreverent; but we’re a legal tabloid. Irreverence is what we do.

We’ve taken the top 32 law firms from the Vault prestige rankings. Last year, we asked you to vote on the coolest law firm. You chose Latham. Yeah…

This year, we’re posing a more important question. We are asking you to vote to decide which of the firms is the safest. Where are you most likely to keep your job?

Here are the brackets:

2009 March Madness brackets above the law.jpg

Voting on the first eight match-ups started on Tuesday; now, we bring you the face-offs between the other 16 firms at the top of the Vault. Polls close on Sunday. You vote to determine who will go to the Sweet (Safe) Sixteen, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL March Madness for Law Firms, Round 1 (Part 2):
Which Biglaw Firm is Safest?”

Above the law march madness.jpg[Ed. note: To catch up on the latest round of the tournament, check out the March Madness 2009 category thread.]

The NCAA basketball tournament starts up this week. If your team is already out, or you’re only half-heartedly rooting for your team (Sigh. Go Duke.), we are offering you a different contest to take part in. And this is better than the NCAA tournament, because you’re not just a sixth man watching from the sidelines; you get to determine the course of the tournament through voting.

We’ve held March Madness NCAA-tournament style competitions before. UVA won the 2007 competition for coolest law school, and last year Latham eked out a victory over Cleary for coolest law firm.

Since Latham recently, um, cut a number of players from its team, we don’t think we can let it keep its crown, so we’re revisiting Biglaw firms with the 2009 ATL March Madness tournament. But rather than comparing “cool,” in a nod to the current climate, we are comparing “safe.” We bring you….


We’ve set up brackets based on Vault seeds. Thirty-two firms are entering the tournament. We invite you to vote on which firms are better at lay-ups than layoffs. At which firm are you least likely to lose your job?

After the jump, we give you the brackets, and the first eight match-ups. Look out for the next eight match-ups on Thursday. The polls close Sunday at midnight.

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ATL 2008 in review.jpgThis year, we launched a new feature on ATL: the Caption Contest. We gave you legally-themed photos and asked you to submit potential captions. We thought it was a great idea — let the readers do our work for us!

The contests proved to be widely popular. Wading through hundreds of caption submissions to bring you a top ten list was actually quite time-consuming, but not a terrible chore — lawyers and lawyers-to-be came up with some hilarious material.

Once we narrowed the lists to the top ten finalists, we let ATL readers choose the winners by voting. “Guest” may not win ATL Commenter of the Year, but certainly did come out on top in captioning. Take our most recent contest, Babies in the Corner. Out of 3030 votes, this caption won by a nose (0.8 percent):

Caption Contest 111808.JPG

Don’t move! They can’t lay us off if they don’t see us.

A look back at our three favorite caption contests, after the jump.

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ABA Journal Blawg 100 2008 badge.jpgDear readers, welcome to 2009. The year just ended was a difficult one, for the legal profession and for the country as a whole. Let’s hope the new year brings better news.

But will it? Take our reader poll below, and offer your specific predictions about 2009 in the comments.

If you’d like to help Above the Law get the year started on the right foot, please do us the honor of voting for us in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 contest. Voting ends tomorrow, so this will be the last time we’ll bother you with a plug. To vote, click here.

Happy New Year!

It’s time for an ATL caption contest! Since there are so many new readers since the last time we ran one of these, here are the rules: post your caption entries in the comments. We’ll take our favorites, incorporate them into a poll, and allow you to vote for your favorite.

We present the picture below without comment or back story, so as not to limit your creativity. If you know the back story, please refrain from posting it.

We’ll tell everybody the real story behind the picture when the contest is over.

Enjoy. And for the love of God, with so many people out there who are sure they can do this job better than me, y’all better bring the funny.

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Earlier: ATL Caption Contest: Tighty-Whities

‘Tighty-Whities’ Caption Contest Winner

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