2009 Year in Review

Lawyer of the Year 2009 AboveTheLaw blog Above the Law ATL.jpgVoting has concluded in our LAWYER OF THE YEAR contest. From over 160 comments, we developed a slate of ten nominees. Over 1,600 votes later, we have a winner.

With so many worthy competitors, the voting was close. These were your top three vote-getters, each with over 15 percent of the vote:

  • The Anonymous Laid-Off Big Firm Attorney: Last year certainly created many more laid-off lawyers — almost 5,000 of them, according to conservative estimates — and also brought to light the stories of many individual laid-off attorneys. E.g., Roxana St. Thomas, of Notes from the Breadline; Mark Levy, former chair of the Supreme Court and appellate practice of Kilpatrick Stockton, who took his own life in April 2009.
  • Sonia Sotomayor: In August 2009, this Wise Latina Woman made history, becoming the 111th justice, the third female justice, and the first Latina justice of the United States Supreme Court.
  • A. William Urquhart: Bill Urquhart, a name partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, is one of the country’s top litigators. In October 2009, he sent out a famous firm-wide email urging all Quinn lawyers to show constant vigilance in checking their email. (This spawned the “CHECK YOU EMAILS” meme in ATL comments, from a typo in his email’s subject line.)

So who prevailed? Make your guess, then learn the identity of the 2009 honoree, after the jump.

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Lawyer of the Year 2009 AboveTheLaw blog Above the Law ATL.jpgThanks to everyone who submitted possible nominees for our Lawyer of the Year award. We reviewed your 160+ comments and developed a slate of ten worthy candidates.

Before we reveal them, we’ll talk about a few folks we passed over. A number of you suggested Mike Leach, the lawyer turned football coach who was recently fired by Texas Tech University. Although Leach’s achievements on the gridiron are considerable, he’s more of a football figure than a legal figure, so he didn’t make the team.

A few of the lawyers you suggested, while certainly well-known, really belong to years prior to 2009. These include former New York governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in disgrace after his dalliances with prostitutes came to light; former administrative law judge Roy Pearson, of the infamous $54 million (originally $67 million) pants lawsuit; and prominent IP litigator Jeremy Pitcock.

Also named: Kathy Henry, a former Legal Secretary of the Day, whose alleged oversight could have cost PepsiCo a pretty penny — over a billion dollars (until the default judgment was vacated). But since she’s a legal secretary rather than a lawyer (or even a law student), we passed her over.

So who made the cut? Check out the nominees and vote for your favorite, after the jump.

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Lawyer of the Year 2009 AboveTheLaw blog Above the Law ATL.jpgThe year 2009 is almost over, but not just yet — which is a good thing. This means we still have time to solicit your nominations for Above the Law’s LAWYER OF THE YEAR.

In 2008, you crowned then-President Elect Barack Obama your Lawyer of the Year. After being named ATL’s Lawyer of the Year, winning the Nobel Peace Prize must have felt anticlimactic.

The year before that, you went in a very different direction. In 2007, the prize was bestowed upon Loyola 2L. For those of you who weren’t reading the site back then, here’s a concise explanation from the WSJ Law Blog (which also named Loyola 2L its LOTY):

So who — or what — is Loyola 2L? For the non-cognoscenti, he, or she, is purportedly a second-year student, or “2L,” at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. And his claim to fame? For over a year, Loyola 2L has beaten a loud and consistent drum of discontent around the Web by posting in online forums about the job prospects for graduates of nonelite law schools.

Loyola 2L turned out to be something of a Cassandra. He was sounding the alarm about the potential perils of going to a non-elite law school — and taking on six figures worth of debt to do so — back in 2007, well before the legal job market really went into the tank.

Back to the present. Instructions for nominating a 2009 Lawyer of the Year, after the jump.

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Happy new year 2009.jpgWe thought about trying to curate a list of the most important legal stories of 2009. But then the National Law Journal upped the ante with the Biggest Stories of the Decade.

Rather than telling you what was most important, we’re enlisting Google Analytics to tell you what was most popular at Above The Law this year, based on pageviews and traffic. After AboveTheLaw.com itself, the most clicked ATL url was our Layoffs tag, reflecting one of the most important ongoing stories here this year.

Hopefully, that’s not the case in 2010.

So what were the most popular posts at ATL in 2009?

10. Now this is a cover letter: ‘Unemployed J.D. Candidate’ sent his resume and transcript to Bingham McCutchen, as well as a cover letter compiling the praise he has received from other top firms in their rejection letters. Points for creativity, but Bingham wasn’t impressed enough to hire him.

The rest of the top ten, after the jump.

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