Earthquakes

The Italian town of L’Aquila. Yeah, it’s the scientists’ fault a town built like this suffered from an earthquake.

The Italian government has a long and storied history of being distrustful and ignorant of science. Who can forget the tragedy of Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian scientist and astronomer who died under house arrest because he tried to figure things out instead of saying, “Meh, God is unknowable.”

Of course, an Italian would probably say “Suvvia! A lot has changed since the 1630s.” Then he’d look at all the women wearing tight jeans and applaud America’s rape prevention campaign.

Sure, the Italian legal system may have evolved to the point where it’s not arresting people for using telescopes and math, but it still has a long way to go before it shows a competent understanding of modern science.

In fact, it’s probably too much to ask Italian courts to understand science. I think the industrialized world would be happy if we could just get Italy to stop convicting scientists for doing their jobs….

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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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* Hey, Preet Bharara, even Lady Gaga can read your poker face when you’re going all in on an allegation of Full Tilt Ponzi. Maybe Lederer and Ferguson will finally fold. [Wall Street Journal]

* You know what this country really needs? More doctors who don’t believe in science. Another stem cell research case is going up to the D.C. Circuit. [Bloomberg]

* The last 9/11 wrongful death suit has been settled. Lessons learned: airport screeners might not know what Mace is, but they sure can lift and separate your balls. [New York Times]

* Cooley Law held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new campus. We’re good at surviving natural disasters, but a tsunami of unemployed lawyers might break this profession. [Miami Herald]

* A group of drag queens in Florida got busted for thieving the essentials — bras, boas, and butt pads. As RuPaul would say, you better work. Or steal. You know, whatever. [New York Daily News]

* Guys in my high school middle school used to have the ACLU file lawsuits over breathalyzer tests all the time. It was no big deal. [MSNBC]


In the wake of the east coast earthquake of 2011, the legal world seems to be back to its regularly scheduled programming. Courts are back in session, law firms have reopened, and government agencies are fully functioning. While some got a welcome day off yesterday, others only received a temporary respite from work.

Thankfully, the damage to the capital region seems to have been limited. At first it was reported that we may have had a Leaning Tower of D.C., but it turns out that the Washington Monument is just cracked. In other monument news, the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials are closed for further inspection, and the National Cathedral has sustained “mind-boggling” damage.

We received a lot of tips from our readers about their earthquake experiences, but more importantly, we have the final results from our reader poll. We now know who we can blame for moving the earth and disrupting our day. And no, it wasn’t Obama’s Fault.

Find out who is responsible, after the jump….

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* According to the latest allegations, Hacksaw McDaniel might be Steve the Child Sex Predator. [Macon Telegraph]

* Libyans. We’re very happy you took your country back, but could you pass a law saying something like “shooting guns in the air as a celebration is just f***ing dumb”? Thanks. [Huffington Post]

* I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that lawyers are, on average, genetically predisposed to be miserable bastards. [ABA Journal]

* Man, it has not been a good week for alleged rape victims. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Facebook + ATL = Kash’s fascination with privacy. [Not So Private Parts / Forbes]

* How screwed is the U? (Translation for non-sports fans: Miami University U. Miami is famous for breaking NCAA rules, and appears to have broken more NCAA rules.) [Legal Blitz]

* Here’s how the finance industry reacted to the quake. [Dealbreaker]

* And in the fashion industry, well, I’m just waiting for the “quake nip slip” photos to start popping up. [Fashionista]

EARTHQUAKE!!!

Okay, I’m sitting on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and I just felt the ground shake. And we’re getting reports that it was felt in Boston and Akron, Ohio.

Television news reports are saying that a 5.8 earthquake just hit Washington, D.C. We also felt it here in New York.

UPDATE (2:07 PM): The quake has been upgraded to a 5.9.

The quake was reportedly centered around Charlottesville, Virginia. The White House has been evacuated.

What’s going on at your job? Also, West Coast readers, do you have any tips? We’re not used to the ground moving out here.

UPDATES, including a reader poll, after the jump…

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* Is associate hiring bouncing back? Not so fast. [Young Lawyers Blog]

* Tape-recorded trash talk at the Raj Rajaratnam trial. [Dealbreaker]

* Here’s a good response to Mark Herrmann’s request for examples of crappy behavior by partners: “Miss a deadline, and then throw your secretary and associate under the bus when called out for it.” [South Florida Lawyers]

* Our tipster, a Georgetown Law alum, has the credited response: “[T]his must have been a GULC student mad he/she could have gone to Texas, gotten a 3500 sq foot wife and a Lexis, and graduated with the same presTTTige.” [Law Library Feedback Blog]

The Chicago River goes green on St. Patrick's Day.

* Law firms have been supporting Japan relief efforts (see here and here), but Felix Salmon urges you not to give money to Japan (or if you do donate to a relief organization, make sure your donation is unrestricted). [Reuters]

* Tax time is just a month away. What should be America’s top tax rate — 25 percent or 49 percent? [TaxProf Blog]

* This illustration of Justice Thurgood Marshall isn’t racist, is it? [Zoopreme Court]

* A Happy St. Patrick’s Day, from Elie — after the jump….

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On Tuesday we told you that McGuireWoods, Dewey & LeBoeuf, and Weil Gosthal were all contributing to the relief efforts under way in Japan. The response has been pretty great.

While some people seem to think Japan’s status as a rich nation means it doesn’t need any international aid, I don’t see how the country’s long-term ability to recover has anything to do with the immediate humanitarian crisis. Japan will undoubtedly be able to rebuild in the future, but its citizens need food and water today.

We’ve now received word that even more Biglaw firms are pitching in to do what they can. If you know of additional firms supporting relief efforts that we have not mentioned, please tell us in the comments to this post….

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After the Haitian earthquake last year, we saw law firms step up in a big way to support relief efforts down there. Hopefully we will see the same reaction to the ever-increasing tragedy unfolding in Japan. Given an 8.9 a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, a massive tsunami, and a nuclear disaster that is already the second-worst nuclear accident in history, you hope that Japan will get all the help that the world can provide.

If anything, the nuclear meltdown angle is obscuring the humanitarian crisis currently happening in Japan. We know that Americans can’t focus on something unless there is some tangential relationship to something bad that could happen here, but you’d think that the possibility of 10,000 deaths would be enough to trigger our humanitarian concern without obsessing about apocalyptic scenarios.

Thankfully, a couple of law firms aren’t waiting for Japan to start glowing before making efforts to help…

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