Blogging

As you may have noticed from the run on allergy medicine, spring is in the air (even if spring bonuses aren’t). Spring is a time for new beginnings.

On that note, we’re thinking of launching a few new columns here at Above the Law. If you’re interested in writing for us, please read on for details.

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* Thinking of going to law school and leading a stereotypical Biglaw life of luxury? Perhaps you should consider taking ex-K&E partner Steven Harper’s class at Northwestern. You might just change your mind. [Chicago Tribune]

* The HuffPo’s unpaid bloggers are going to stay that way for now, because Jonathan Tasini’s $105M class action suit has been dismissed. Perhaps he’ll get another SCOTUS case under his belt. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Parts of Junie Hoang’s lawsuit against IMDb have survived dismissal, but she can kiss her $1M damages claim goodbye. Too bad, because at her age, she could really use the retirement money. [Hollywood Reporter]

* Hofstra’s going to Havana, but it’s not to get career advice from Fidel. Instead, students will learn about U.S. export law. Sigh. You don’t need to go to Cuba to find out you can’t bring back cigars. [National Law Journal]

* Who’s the latest lady love in Lindsay Lohan’s life? Shawn Holley. LiLo reportedly whispered sweet nothings into her lawyer’s ear after she was freed from the bonds of supervised probation. [Los Angeles Times]

Boo. Boo. BOO.

Joe Lieberman, the Senator from Connecticut who has evolved into a cartoon-level villain on the left, is at it again. The Daily Kos reports that Lieberman is proposing to gut Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. For you commenters who don’t know what Section 230 is, I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain it to people who benefit from the freedom that it provides and then question the manner in which it provides it.

Seriously though, if Lieberman has his way, websites could be held responsible for the filthy, disgusting, misogynist, racist, and often quite funny comments left on their posts. This could lead sites to crack down on or eliminate anonymous commenting.

If you think I’m going down so somebody can make a walrus joke about the wrong person, you’ve got another thing coming….

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People always ask the Above the Law editors, “What kinds of people leave such horrible comments on your website?” And we always say, “Regular people, the ones you work with or socialize with.”

Most internet commenters are regular people who, under the Invisibility Cloak of cyberspace, feel free to say whatever disgusting/ridiculous/illogical thing that pops into their heads.

Lest anyone think the phenomenon is unique to our website, please think again. For better or worse, trolling is an inevitable part of online media. Most of the time, it’s best to just ignore it. Once a while, however, anonymous online commenting may signify something larger and more pernicious.

Case in point: our inbox was flooded over the weekend with the emerging scandal of a prosecommenter (yeah, you read that right) in New Orleans. This is what happens when a federal prosecutor takes his case to the interwebs instead of the court. Bad times…

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* Apparently the Roberts Court is unusual in that its elite members lacked opportunities to gain “the most critical judicial virtue: practical wisdom.” Yeah, right. Tell that one to the Wise Latina. [Washington Post]

* In the wake of the contraception controversy, Rush Limbaugh apologized for calling Georgetown 3L Sandra Fluke a “slut.” He’s so very, very sorry… that he lost some of his advertisers. [The Caucus / New York Times]

* The powers that be in Massachusetts have decided to show law bloggers a little bit of respect. Now they’ll get to cover judicial proceedings like real, live journalists — press passes and all. [Metro Desk / Boston Globe]

* Pornography: now with ten percent fewer HIV infections! A Los Angeles city ordinance requiring porn actors to wear condoms during filming will be taking effect today. [L.A. Now / Los Angeles Times]

* After allegedly making two other incidents disappear from her record, former Bronx ADA Jennifer Troiano pleaded guilty to drunk driving last week. It looks like the third time really is the charm. [New York Daily News]

* New York newlyweds allege that Glamour Me Studio Photoshopped their heads onto naked bodies. Groomzilla Todd Remis must be glad that his wedding photography woes weren’t so graphic. [New York Post]

I met Andrew Breitbart three weeks ago. We both were on a Huckabee Show panel that subsequently got bumped when news of Whitney Houston’s death broke. I’m not terribly sorry, it wasn’t one of my best. But the chemistry between us was pretty good, off-camera at least. After the show I texted him and he said we should try to set up a debate again.

Now he’s dead, and it’s all pretty shocking to me because four weeks ago, Andrew Breitbart would have been in the running for people I would be least concerned about if they happened to die. And it’s not like I had any kind of political conversion, and I don’t have a particular soft spot for saying nice things about dead people just because they died.

So why in the hell am I about to say something nice-ish about Andrew Breitbart?

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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….

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[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?

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