Elana Dawson

Tomorrow, many readers will begin the last exam of their lives (excluding DMV renewals). Most are hunkered down poring over notes, taking last-minute practice exams, and generally questioning the life decisions that brought them to this moment.

But more than a few are searching for almost anything to distract them from incessant studying today. This post is for them. We’ve gathered together some random thoughts on the exam, some time-wasting links, and of course a thread to commiserate.

Gear up for some ATL Classic tales of bar exam woe, a Downfall video, tales of a dumb test-taker, and cat pictures!

Good luck!

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This Thanksgiving, five brilliant young lawyers will have something special to give thanks for. Earlier this month, they learned of their selection as the 2013 Bristow Fellows.

Bristow Fellowships, one-year fellowships in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, go to recent law school graduates with outstanding academic records and top clerkships. They are generally regarded as second only to Supreme Court clerkships in prestige — and often lead to SCOTUS clerkships as well. You can read more about the Bristow Fellowship, including the job responsibilities and application process, on the Justice Department website.

One of the newest Bristow Fellows is an Above the Law celebrity, whom many of you will recognize. Yes, that’s right — you can appear in the pages of ATL and go on to enjoy great career success in the law….

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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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The year is quickly drawing to a close, but we have unfinished business to conduct here at Above the Law. We still have to crown our Lawyer of the Year for 2011.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for nominations. We’ve narrowed down the nominees to a field of twelve (although you’ll see only eleven options in the poll because one is a joint nomination). As in past years, the contenders run the gamut from distinguished to despicable.

And the nominees are….

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It’s impossible to know what would have happened if I had done something differently. Ultimately, I have what was, and remains, most important to me — a happy, healthy son.

Elana Nightingale Dawson, the recent Northwestern Law graduate who went into active labor during the bar exam, commenting on the good news of her passing the Illinois bar.

The Penthouse Club is no Bada Bing.

* The legal sector lost 1,300 jobs in September. And because that’s not depressing enough, lawyers now have to compete for jobs with computers. Guess it’s time to learn binary. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week kicked off yesterday in West Virginia. Too bad this campaign isn’t in Michigan, where a woman is suing over a misleading movie trailer. [Washington Post]

* Think you had it rough on the bar exam? Try being in active labor during the MBE. Our congratulations go out to Elana Nightingale Dawson for passing the Illinois bar! [Daily Herald]

* What’s the point of being in witness protection when you’re getting sued over dueling nudie bars in Texas? You may be the real life Tony, but you’re disrespecting the Bing. [New York Post]

* Pants on the ground / Pants on the ground / Lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground. A judge in New York finally took General Larry Platt’s words of wisdom to heart. [Daily Mail]

It’s time to announce the winner of July’s Lawyer of the Month. Actually, it’s well past time to announce the winner of July’s Lawyer of the Month, but I forgot to do it before I went on vacation. Sorry about that. Since it’s late I’ll make this column free.

The winner of the July contest won in a landslide. Regular readers of Above the Law will not be surprised to learn that Elana Nightingale Dawson, a recent law school graduate who went into labor while attempting to pass the bar, won our lawyer of the month poll — even if she’s not yet a practicing attorney. That’s just how we roll around here.

But despite her comfortable margin of victory, Elana Dawson inspired some interesting debates in the comments, debates that merit additional attention….

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July was an awesome month for lawyers. June was great for scandalous lawyers, but July has been great for straight-up star power.

We’ve got some great candidates from July. We’ve got some candidates who accomplished things in the law. But only one of our Lawyer of the Month contestants is also a new mother…

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'These MBE questions are way easier than the practice ones!'

We thought we had a winner for most gutsy bar exam performance of July 2011. On Thursday, a woman taking the New Jersey bar exam passed out during the test — then picked herself up off the floor, and went right back to typing.

That’s impressive — but we may have spoken too soon. Here’s a labor-intensive story that tops it.

“A friend of mine went into labor while taking the Illinois bar exam,” a tipster told us. “She calmly finished, went to the hospital, and had her baby an hour or two later. Girl’s a real trooper.”

“A certain Northwestern Law alumna went into labor during the second day of the Illinois bar,” said a second source. “She finished the exam and had her baby, her first, at 5:58 p.m. I think that is worth noting.”

You better believe it’s worth noting. If ever there was a baby immaculately conceived by a lawgiver, this might be the one.

We have all the details — including a picture of the Bar Exam Baby, whom we’ll nickname “Baby Bar”….

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