Paul F. Campos

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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Can a Westlaw or Lexis print-out hide your booze stash? I didn't think so.

* Are Asian American lawyers too nerdy to climb the Biglaw or corporate ladder — or is this just an outdated stereotype? [The Careerist]

* Does having your law school sob story featured on national television count as “employed upon graduation”? (Or, more seriously, here’s an opportunity for an unemployed law school grad.) [Inside the Law School Scam]

* A Notre Dame law professor, Mark McKenna, offers some courageous and deeply personal commentary on the Penn State scandal. [Slate]

* How will SCOTUS vote on Obamacare? Two political science professors, Michael Bailey and Forrest Maltzman, offer predictions. [The Monkey Cage via How Appealing]

Ted Frank

* Congratulations to Ted Frank and CCAF on a big win in the Ninth Circuit. [Center for Class Action Fairness]

* Following in the footsteps of its former employee, Gregory Berry, Kasowitz Benson seeks to conquer Silicon Valley. [Am Law Daily]

* In the age of Lexis and Westlaw, hardbound law books still serve a valuable purpose. [Kickstarter]

* It’s a briefcase branded with your favorite team insignia. But real subtle-like, so other people won’t immediately know you are an alpha jock fan boy. But you will. You’ll always know. [The Fandom Review]

Lindsay Lohan

* Professor Glenn Reynolds notes Lindsay Lohan’s swift movement through the jail system. [Instapundit]

* Professor Orin Kerr notes Professor Stephen Higginson’s swift movement onto the Fifth Circuit — in apparent violation of the rule in judicial nominations “that a circuit court nominee with Supreme-Court-level credentials will have a harder time getting confirmed than a nominee without those credentials.” [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Professor Larry Ribstein notes the growing competition between Biglaw and the in-house world. [Truth on the Market]

* If you’re having a hard time keeping track of all the lawsuits in which law firms and their partners are parties rather than counsel, check out this handy guide from Brian Baxter. [Am Law Daily]

Professor Paul Campos

* How would you like your soon-to-be-ex spouse to have your Facebook and Match.com passwords? [Not-So Private Parts / Forbes]

* Here’s an interesting profile of Professor Paul Campos, the legal academic behind the controversial Inside the Law School Scam blog. [National Law Journal]

* And here’s commentary on Karen Sloan’s NLJ piece by Professor Paul Horwitz. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Still on the subject of scamblogging, where do retired scambloggers go? Apparently they start doing podcasts about reality television. [Top Chef Refire]

Judge Sam Sparks

* Remember the “kindergarten party” that Judge Sam Sparks (W.D. Tex.) was planning to hold? His Honor has canceled the festivities. [WSJ Law Blog]

* John Althouse Cohen — yes, son of La Althouse — discusses one way in which Texas might be emulating… Europe? [Jaltcoh]

* Professor Paul Campos opens up a can of whoop-ass on people who say students go to law school — and take on six figures of debt — “for the chance to make a difference.” [Inside the Law School Scam]

* Musical Chairs: Mr. Quinn Goes To Washington (with the help of three Alston & Bird partners). [ABA Journal]

* The latest news on Stephen McDaniel / Lauren Giddings: if the blue gloves don’t fit, you must acquit? [Macon Telegraph]

* Above the Law — of animal cruelty? Steven Seagal, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a dead dog, and a rooster massacre. [TPM Muckraker]

Steven Seagal

* After a judge shot down the effort by NBA star Gilbert Arenas to stop “Basketball Wives: Los Angeles” from airing, Arenas’s ex-fiancee, Laura Govan, was allowed to strut her stuff on television — and it wasn’t pretty. [Sister2Sister]

* Congratulations to super-mensch Stanley Levy, senior counsel at Manatt, on winning Am Law’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2011. [American Lawyer]

* And congrats to Masimba Mutamba, a 3L at Miami Law, who has just been awarded an apprenticeship with Waller Lansden’s innovative Schola2Juris program. [University of Miami School of Law]

Elie wishes he had taken the nuggets.

* What can law firms learn from Folgers crystals? Maybe how to provide legal services rich enough to be served to America’s finest corporations. [What About Clients?]

* A look at what $100,000 in law school loans could have purchased instead — e.g., 505,050 chicken nuggets from Wendy’s. [Constitutional Daily]

* What kind of “reasonable accommodations” are alcoholics entitled to in the workplace? A three-martini mojito lunch sounds good to me. [Overlawyered]

* Some thoughts from Henry Blodget on Groupon and the SEC-mandated “quiet period.” Any thoughts, readers, on Blodget’s take on attorney/client privilege? [Business Insider]

* Professor Ann Althouse on the exoneration of Justice David Prosser (noted in Morning Docket): “A justice is despised because his decisions do not please liberals, and so, without thought, they forgot about things liberals like to love themselves for caring about, such as fairness and due process.” [Althouse]

Is it wrong to find Justin Bieber totally hot? Just askin'....

* E-discovery is moving to the cloud. What are the opportunities and the risks? Ben Kerschberg and Bret Laughlin discuss. [Forbes]

* Speaking of e-discovery, the DISH Network and Redgrave LLP are sponsoring an e-discovery research and writing competition, open to law students. [dishdiscovery]

* Law librarian Joe Hodnicki weighs in on the controversy over ScamProf aka Paul Campos and his controversial blog. [Law Librarian Blog]

* If you share Staci’s opinion that Justin Bieber “kind of looks like a girl,” here’s some support for your viewpoint. [Fashionista]

* The American Constitution Society is holding an online symposium in honor of the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. [ACSblog]

Watch my fat wallet devour its prey.

* Should we allow circuit judges to sit by designation on the U.S. Supreme Court? Here’s an interesting idea from Professor Gerard Magliocca. [Concurring Opinions]

* Hey Yalies: Did your alma mater accidentally make your name and Social Security number available to the public? (I got a letter about this; I guess it was legit.) [Gawker]

* You’ve got mail! It looks like a bill — from Wachtell Lipton. [Adweek]

* My morbidly obese, George Costanza monstrosity gets a shout-out in an article about oversized wallets. [Smart Money]

Bernie Madoff

* Is Harvard developing a course on business ethics based on the career of Bernie Madoff? Madoff apparently thinks so. [Dealbreaker]

* To all of you who say that my home state of New Jersey is good for nothing, read this. [DNA Info]

* Employment lawyers, any thoughts on this type of workplace behavior? [Fashionista]

* To those of you who want us to moderate comments more aggressively — we do moderate, but only in extreme cases, when brought to our attention — consider these wise words from Professor Paul Campos (aka ScamProf): “Law in general and law school in particular is already too full of fake politeness, fear-induced groveling, craven appeasement of dubious authority figures, unappetizing obsessions with hierarchical status, and other forms of soul-crushing inauthenticity.” So there. [Inside the Law School Scam]

The 'scamblogging' law professor has revealed himself.

Earlier this month, we wrote about an anonymous law professor — a tenured professor, at a top-tier school — essentially joining the ranks of the law school scambloggers. Writing over at a site entitled Inside the Law School Scam, under the pseudonym LawProf, the author offered a harsh indictment of legal education, purportedly from within the ivory tower.

I believed that the author was who he said he was, but others did not. Professor Ann Althouse, for example, opined that the blogger was a student, “uncharitably projecting thoughts onto [a] professor” (who talked about how little he, and his colleagues, prepared for teaching). Professor Althouse explained that she thought was student-written, “because it had some bad writing and simplistic thinking.”

Well, as it turns out, LawProf is an actual tenured law professor, at a top 50 law school. Who is he, and where does he teach?

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For the most part, I’ve just been happy that the lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson School of Law, over the school’s allegedly misleading employment statistics, exists. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about raising awareness of the disingenuous way law schools go about filling up their classes.

Of course, anytime somebody says “it’s not about winning or losing,” you can best believe that person expects to lose. I’ve been operating under the assumption that Anna Alaburda, the woman suing TJSL, would get her butt kicked all over the courthouse.

But maybe I am wrong to give up hope for a victory so quickly. Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal has managed to find a couple of lawyers who believe law schools could be in big trouble…

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I graduated from Northwestern Law in 2009. It is now 2011, my loans are coming due (real due — not the fake, put ‘em in forebearance, due of yesteryear), and I am currently “employed” doing two things: reviewing documents at an embarrassing hourly wage on projects that start and stop without any sort of consistency, and writing “jokes” about the Microsoft Zune every weekday morning, every other week. To borrow from David Foster Wallace, this is water.

And so it is with a sick sort of pleasure that I read Professor Paul Campos’s very interesting piece on The New Republic website yesterday. Coupled with Elie’s post on the Biglaw bloodletting, the article tells me what I’ve wanted to know and, in fact, what I’ve been telling my mom for two years now. Namely, that MJ was right. I am not alone.

What is the true state of unemployment for law school graduates? Professor Campos has crunched some numbers….

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