Blogging

As you might have noticed, Above the Law has gotten a little face-lift. We’ve been expanding our offerings over the past couple of months. We’ve added new full-time writers, and started new columns. With those changes, we’ve been bringing in a record number of readers who are interested in our diverse content. It was time to put the site under the knife, and get some Botox and a new smile up in here.

The new format will allow us to feature a main story we think most of you will want to see, while still scrolling through the real time news and opinions just to the right. We think this format will give our readers an overview of the content that is both relevant and new with just a quick glance.

Of course, if you like to get Above the Law just like you always have, you still can. If you like scrolling through ATL… just scroll down a little.

The changes on the website aren’t the only things that are happening here at Above the Law. With the proliferation of smart phones and tablets in the legal community, there are now more ways than ever to access ATL content beyond our website on your desktop browser. All ATL stories are available on the Flipboard, Google Currents, and Pulse readers, and we will be launching on more mobile readers shortly. If you have not yet accessed Above the Law through any of these readers, we encourage you to download the readers in the Apple App Store or Android Marketplace to access mobile ATL content.

Starting today, we will be changing our feeds so that you will receive an overview of each Above the Law story via the mobile readers listed above, or any RSS reader. You will then be able to link to the full story on AbovetheLaw.com, where you can interact with other readers through our comments, and access all of our current and archived articles for free. With so many options to view ATL content, we want to make sure you have access to breaking news and insights throughout the day in the way that suits you best; in fact, if you call right now, we’ll throw in a free set of steak knives.

Just kidding. The knives only come out in the comments. We of course want you to continue to come to AbovetheLaw.com directly to participate in the community and give us feedback on the stories that interest you.

Good times. We want to thank all of our readers for making 2011 the most successful year for Above the Law ever. We’ll try to do even better in 2012.

The people over a Thomas M. Cooley Law School have a long and illustrious history of inventing ridiculous law school rankings that magically show Cooley Law at or near the top. It’s pretty pathetic to make up your own ranking and rank yourself.

But now a third party has put together a ranking where Cooley has risen to the top. A Georgetown professor has ranked all the websites from ABA-accredited law schools, and Cooley’s website ranks eighth. Hey, they know how to sell themselves.

The top of the list isn’t only about law schools that are trying dazzle students into making a ruinous financial decision. The rankings mainly seem to reflect whether or not law schools care about their website at all….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ranking Law School Websites: Cooley Ranks Near the Top!”

[T]his might be a helpful alert to lawyers who are hiring someone to try to promote their sites: It’s possible that the promotion might consist of behavior that is par for the course for purported penis enlargement products, but not really in keeping with the sort of reputation that lawyers generally seek to cultivate.

– Professor Eugene Volokh, issuing a warning to lawyers that hire outside companies to promote their law firm websites using spam blog comments.


Complete honesty is such a dangerous thing.

I’m going to give it a shot.

I’m posing three questions to myself today. First, why might a lawyer at a law firm choose to write articles? Second, what topics should lawyers write about, and where should they publish the articles? Finally, why might an in-house lawyer choose to write?

The honest truth is that outside lawyers choose to write for many, varied reasons. In-house lawyers might also choose to write for many reasons, but those reasons are different and fewer. Across the board, authors’ motivations for writing will be mixed.

Do I have a right to speak on the subject of publications? My credentials, in a nutshell, are these: Three books; twelve law review articles; two book chapters; about 70 other, shorter articles (in places ranging from The Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune to Pharmaceutical Executive and Litigation); and maybe 600 blog posts (roughly 500 at Drug and Device Law and north of 100 here). Call me nuts (and I may well be), but I’ve spent a professional lifetime doing a ton of “recreational” legal writing.

Why did I do it? Should you?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: ‘Recreational’ Writing, In-House and Out”

SOPA is getting pwned. Yesterday, all the uber players with their epic gear hopped on Vent and raided the SOPA base, and now the newbie Congress people who sponsored the law are running scared. As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the sponsors of the Stop Online Piracy Act have “renounced” their law. The New York Times reports that Senators and Congresspeople are abandoning this thing like it was a campaign promise.

Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, all of the big internet corporations flexed their muscles — and oh, by the way, this is what it looks like when corporations use speech for speech, as opposed to pretending that anonymous corporate campaign contributions magically count as speech.

In the wake of this victory, here’s a question: Is this what we want? Yesterday, the internet used its power for good (though I fear the movie industry will strike back by making you watch full-length Kevin James movies before you can download the next Batman preview). But what if in the future “the internet” wants something bad, something that is more than the mere protection of freedom?

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Sorry folks, no relation.

Hi everybody! I’m Chris Danzig. You might have seen me around Above The Law over the past year, covering technology and West Coast legal news. As of today, I’m excited to be the site’s newest full-time editor, joining David Lat, Elie Mystal, and Staci Zaretsky.

I’m a journalist by trade, not a lawyer. I’ve spent too much time writing about the law — and the stressful situations that can arise within the legal profession, which sometimes drive lawyers to drink — to ever want to practice.

I went to journalism school at Northwestern University. I helped investigate a wrongful conviction case with the Medill Innocence Project while I was in school. After graduation, I was the assistant editor at InsideCounsel magazine in Chicago, where I covered legal technology.

I left that job about two years ago, and have worked as a full-time freelance reporter since then. I’ve written for a variety of publications, covering health care, music, social justice, and a bunch of other stuff. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I was born and raised.

Keep reading for more personal trivia about yours truly (and to see the photo of myself that Lat asked me to provide)….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Mother, Tell Your Children Not To Read My Stories: Meet Team ATL’s Newest Member”

It’s tough being the managing partner of Bigg & Mediocre. All of the hard issues land on my desk. We’ve hired a new Chief Marketing Officer, and this guy recommends that we launch some firm-branded blogs. Press reports say that 94 percent of the AmLaw 100 plan to use blogs as part of their marketing efforts. I guess I have to make a decision; what should we do?

I’ve never actually visited a legal blog. I’ve certainly never subscribed to a good one (if there is such a thing, which I doubt). Someone once sent me a link to something called “Above the Law,” but that was just a post discussing our year-end bonuses.

To blog or not to blog: What’s a managing partner to do?

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It’s hard to believe that another year has passed, but here we are. It’s December 31st, New Year’s Eve. The weather is turning cold, the Republican presidential contest is heating up, and it’s time to review this year’s biggest stories on Above the Law.

Consistent with past practice, we will refrain from offering our subjective judgments on the most important stories of the year. Instead, just as we did back in 2010 and 2009, we’ll identify the ten biggest stories of the past year as decided by you, our readers. With the help of our friends at Google Analytics, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten posts for 2011, based on traffic.

In terms of overall topics, the most popular category page for the year was Law Schools, for the second year in a row. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the year was an eventful one for the legal academy. It would be fair to describe 2011 as an annus horribilis for the law school world, with various forces laying siege to the ivory tower. The attackers include not just unemployed lawyers turned scambloggers, but the mainstream media, led by David Segal of the New York Times; plaintiffs’ lawyers, who have already sued several law schools (and have announced plans to sue at least 15 more in 2012); and even a tenured law professor calling for reform (Paul Campos, currently in the lead for 2011 Lawyer of the Year).

The second most-popular category at ATL: Biglaw. Although we’ve expanded our small-firm and in-house coverage dramatically here at Above the Law, adding multiple columnists in each space, our coverage of large law firms still draws major traffic and drives discussions.

Now, on to the ten most popular individual posts on Above the Law in 2011….

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Thoreau admonished us that we cannot “kill time without injuring eternity.” But what did he know? That proto-hippie pond-fetishist could not have imagined today’s world, where our collective attention spans have shriveled to goldfish levels and so much actual productive white-collar labor can be, to an observer, indistinguishable from simply loitering in front of a computer screen. Unless someone is looking over your shoulder, nobody knows whether you’re on PACER or playing Angry Birds.

We asked you, the ATL readership, where you turn for distraction when you don’t feel like billing or studying. The results of our research poll, after the jump….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ways and Means of Mass Distraction”

Herman Cain: Do you miss him yet?

* It’d be easy to say “a former Tea Party candidate posted about assassinating the President.” But it’s probably more accurate to say a crazy, racist, loony person scrawled something naughty on Facebook and is now in trouble. [Huffington Post]

* I’d like to buy this, and then use it to TP Herman Cain’s house while screaming, “It’s less complicated than your sex life!” [Tax Prof Blog]

* I wonder if, a generation from now, people will look back on Citizens United like Plessy v. Ferguson. Like, there will still be a few holdouts saying, “money is speech now, money is speech forever,” but most of society will have moved on to a more enlightened state. [Congressman John Yarmuth]

In my lifetime, Kobe has been one of the most fun players to not like.

* Maybe all we need is a simple Constitutional amendment clarifying that “only people are people.” Corporations are not people. Animals are not people. Artificially intelligent robots who one day rise up to threaten humanity’s existence are not people. [Miller-McCune]

* Oh, Kobe. When you beat a rape rap yet still have to publicly admit you bang hoteliers in Vail, you should just get divorced right then and there. No number of diamond nor championship rings is going to put that back together. She’s still going to kill you in the divorce, and all you’ve bought yourself is a few extra years of living with a woman who openly hates you. [L.A. Now via ABA Journal]

* You think bloggers suffer from group think too much? I vote for 2012 being the year when the mainstream media stops stealing story ideas from the blogs (without credit), and does some actual original reporting again. You know, like they are supposed to with their huge staffs and massive budgets. [What About Clients?]

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