Today, the National Law Journal released its list of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. The NLJ releases a similar list once every few years, and each time, the nation’s top lawyers — some from Biglaw, some from legal academia, some from the in-house world, and some from the trial and appellate bars — celebrate their success in creating real change in the industry. That said, the people named to this list are relatively well-known to the general Above the Law readership, but they won’t exactly be household names to laypeople.
Which legal eagles soared into the NLJ’s list this time around? Well, the NLJ selected their influential lawyers based on their political clout, legal results, media penetration, business credibility, and thought leadership. We’ve whittled the impressive list of 100 down to our own top 10.
Last week, I went to the preliminary hearing for Chris Bucchere, a software developer charged with felony vehicular manslaughter. On a workday morning in March 2012, Bucchere struck and killed a 71-year-old pedestrian, Sutchi Hui, in a busy, crowded intersection. Bucchere’s case has gotten a lot of attention in San Francisco, both because this is a case of manslaughter by bike rather than by car, and because Bucchere garnered criticism for writing about the incident on an online biking forum afterward, particularly because he ended the post by lamenting the “heroic” death of his helmet.
As in many urban environments, there is strife between the different classes of commuters in his city. Bucchere epitomized for many the reckless biker who takes liberties with the laws of the road — annoying drivers — and does not take seriously the damage that can be done on two wheels to those on two legs — annoying pedestrians, and in this case, mortally injuring one. The case interested me because press reports indicated that data from Bucchere’s Strava account — an app that bikers can use to track their rides — had been used to show how fast he had been going and to prove he had ignored stop signs.
District Attorney George Gascón told me the Strava data was part of the reason the city had decided to bring such severe charges against Bucchere. “It implies he was trying to compete with himself,” Gascón said. Bucchere’s online comments also played a role. “His helmet was more important than a human being.”
The Strava data did not wind up being instrumental in the hearing at all, though; instead 30 seconds of surveillance video took center stage.
* We have a new pope. Pope Francis I has no involvement with the sexual abuse scandals surrounding the Church, but has had other legal troubles in his past. [Los Angeles Times]
* UNLV Law Dean Nancy Rapoport schools other deans on drafting press releases about the U.S. News rankings. [Nancy Rapoport's Blogspot]
* Lend your support to this new project to create Oyez-style audio/video archives of state Supreme Court proceedings. This will be really helpful, but I’m holding out for audio/video of Wade McCree’s courtroom. [Knight News Challenge]
* If you’re mad that your name comes up when people Google “erectile dysfunction,” filing a public lawsuit over that fact isn’t the answer. [IT-Lex]
* Charter schools are lame because the crazy people running them teach whatever they want, like this one that teaches students that hippies were dirty. Well, okay, that’s not actually untrue, but the system’s textbooks have other faults, like explaining how the KKK was just misunderstood, y’all. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]
* Man loses his memory after car crash-induced head trauma, decides to become a lawyer. I’ve always said would-be lawyers should have their heads examined. [BBC News via Legal Cheek]
The marketeers put this stuff online for the lawyers and call it content. Those with even minimal composition skills use far less charitable words to describe it.
As an example, he writes about the self-linking that takes place in pseudo-blogs and the embarrassing effect it actually has on the lawyer being promoted. He uses the example below — a monstrous keyword smorgasbord you may have stumbled across in the past, and were dumber for having done so….
* The Department of Justice has reached yet another settlement in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill case, this time with Transocean Ltd. for $1.4 billion in civil and criminal penalties and fines. [National Law Journal]
* “[W]ith success comes regulatory scrutiny.” Google convinced the FTC to close its ongoing antitrust probe by promising to change its allegedly shady patent usage and purportedly skewed search terms. [Bloomberg]
* According to Littler Mendelson, federal contractors might want to consider sending out sequestration-related layoff notices to employees in order to comply with the WARN Act. America, f**k yeah! [Government Executive]
* Governor Andrew Cuomo will have a major impact on the New York Court of Appeals when appointing new judges. It could be a partisan decision, but his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, insists his son will leave politics at home. [Capital New York]
* When you write in defense of the value proposition of law school, you wind up in the op-ed pages of the NYT. When you tell the truth about it, you wind up in the opinion pages of the WSJ. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* Remember Danae Couch, the Texas Tech law student who was crowned as Miss Texas? She’ll compete for the Miss America title next weekend. If you’d like to help her become a finalist, you can vote for her here! [KFYO]
If you’ve ever been in a bookstore (and we hope that you have), you’ve seen the ubiquitous red Zagat guides, often situated right next to the checkout line to encourage impulse purchases. They’re wonderful resources for the restaurant-obsessed (note my avoidance of the f-word). The Zagat guides compile thousands upon thousands of user-generated reviews and distill them into clear, concise, often clever capsule reviews of restaurants in top cities around the world.
Last year, Google purchased Zagat for between $100 million to $200 million. That’s a pretty nice chunk of change — especially for a pair of former lawyers.
Yes, Tim and Nina Zagat are attorneys. Let’s learn about how they got their start….
* Billable hours in Biglaw are down 1.5 percent, and 15 percent of U.S. firms are planning to reduce their partnership ranks in early 2013. Thanks to Wells Fargo for bringing us the news of all this holiday cheer! [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
* Hostess may be winding down its business and liquidating its assets, but Biglaw will always be there to clean up the crumbs. Jones Day, Venable, and Stinson Morrison Hecker obviously think money tastes better than Twinkies. [Am Law Daily]
* How’s that “don’t be evil” thing working out for you? Google’s $22.5M proposed privacy settlement with the FTC over tracking cookies planted on Safari browsers was accepted by a federal judge. [Bloomberg]
* Perhaps the third time will be the charm: ex-Mayer Brown partner Joseph Collins was convicted, again, for helping Refco steal more than $2B from investors by concealing the company’s fraud. [New York Law Journal]
* H. Warren Knight, founder of alternative dispute resolution company JAMS, RIP. [National Law Journal]
Hey, don’t blame us. We didn’t make this list of the worst law schools in the country.
In the Above the Law Career Center, we just give law schools letter grades, based on user surveys completed by ATL readers. But the Daily Caller has compiled a list of the ten worst ABA-accredited law schools. Mwahaha.
One really strong point about this list is that it’s more outcome-oriented than other rankings. It’s not looking at LSAT scores and GPAs; it’s looking at bar passage rates, cost, and employment data.
So, send your angry emails to the Daily Caller, or your own administrators, if you are unlucky enough to be going to one of these schools…
* Dewey know when Judge Martin Glenn will issue his ruling on the failed firm’s proposed partner contribution plan? If all goes according to plan, we can expect to learn if the PCP’s been approved or rejected as early as next week. [Am Law Daily]
* Hot on the heels of Google’s digital-book settlement, the company announced that it would be appealing its copyright infringement jury verdict in the Oracle trial. One thing’s for sure: Judge Alsup will be angered terribly by this. [Bloomberg]
* David Askew, formerly the director of Edwards Wildman’s pro bono program, will now lead the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms as CEO and general counsel. [Corporate Counsel]
* The American Bar Association submitted an amicus brief in support of using race as a factor in college admissions, because diversity in college education is a must for diversity in law schools, duh. [ABA Journal]
* Remember the family law judge who got caught beating his daughter in a video that went viral? Now he wants the Texas Supreme Court to reinstate him, over his ex-wife’s objections. Good luck with that. [CNN]
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