March Madness 2011

At the start of this contest, Latham & Watkins was the reigning coolest law firm in the land. But the defending champions were bounced in the first round.

The votes have been tallied, and we have a new champion. The Coolest Law Firm in the land, according to you, the readers of Above the Law, is Davis Polk. DPW crushed Sullivan & Cromwell in the final vote. It was a good run for S&C, but I guess people who aren’t attractive enough to work at Davis Polk want what they can’t have. It’s kind of like high school.

Actually, it’s a pretty big week for DPW. Not only did they win the tournament, the firm is now under new management!

Who is Davis Polk’s new leader?

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It is time for the finals in Above the Law’s Coolest Law Firm Contest.

While the real NCAA men’s basketball tournament has devolved into a three-point shooting exhibition, the ATL bracket pits an irresistible force against an immovable object: Davis Polk versus Sullivan & Cromwell, or hot versus rich.

Check out the bracket below and start mulling things over. One of these firms will be named the “coolest” in all the land…

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There haven’t been any VCU-style upsets in our Coolest Law Firm Bracket. That’s probably because lawyers don’t like upsets. Lawyers get paid to make sure no “surprises” happen; lawyers like things to proceed in a predictable and organized fashion. Sure, Davis Polk (ranked #5 by Vault) topped Skadden (ranked #4) in the Elite Eight. But the real surprise there is that the gargantuan-sized Skadden couldn’t whip up enough of its own people to vote it through to the next round.

As we move into the Final Four, we’ve got some intriguing match-ups. On one side of the bracket, people will have to choose whether or not making money is cooler than being attractive. On the other side of the bracket, we’ll answer the question: Is being “first” more important than being “best”?

Let’s get to it…

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We will have a new winner in this year’s Coolest Law Firm contest. When Above the Law first ran this bracket back in 2008, you picked Latham & Watkins as the victor. This time around, they got… Lathamed, in the first round. Cravath crushed Latham by a 60% – 40% margin. That was the second-highest margin of victory among all of the first-round match-ups.

So, for those playing along at home, paying a spring bonus is “more cool” than not paying a spring bonus.

As we move into the Elite Eight, some of our readers are asking us to give a more clear definition of what is “cool.” We respectfully decline to do so. It’s up to you to tell us what makes a top law firm cool. Is it job security, making maximum bank, prestige points? It’s really up to you. Personally I think the coolest law firm would be the one most likely to represent bad-ass clients on the correct side of moral issues, but… eeek, that’s not really what Biglaw is all about.

So bring your own prejudices to the table when you vote in the next round of the Coolest Law Firm Tournament. Use whatever reasoning makes sense to you. Just don’t go with chalk because you can’t be bothered to actually form an opinion — don’t be boring, son….

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Every year, in honor of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (Pervis Ellison is not walking through that door, Louisville fans), Above the Law runs a law-related bracket. Law firms or schools advance based on the outcome of reader polls.

Last year was a particularly fun tournament. We crowned the Douchiest Law School in all the land. Duke won (big surprise), but even now people at UVA are still pissed and effectively demanding that we redo the poll to take into account their recent douchtastic behavior.

But there is a more important bracket that needs a second look. Back in 2008, we asked you to name the Coolest Law Firm. Guess who won.

In 2008, Above the Law readers declared Latham & Watkins to be the “coolest” law firm in the country. Yes, that Latham.

That was three years ago. Lehman was still a respected investment bank back then. Does anybody want to try this again? Let’s get to it…

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