Reader Polls

In this week’s Career Center Survey, we asked you to predict how Biglaw’s 2011 year-end bonuses will stack up against bonuses based on 2010 performance.

Of the more than 700 responses we received, 28% of respondents think (or is hope the better word?) that the 2011 year-end bonus will be bigger than the combined 2010 Cravath year-end bonus, plus the 2011 Cravath spring bonus.

If those bonus numbers weren’t already forever etched in your mind, here’s a quick reminder of what those totals were….

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With Election 2012 in sight, Gallup just finished conducting nationwide polls on government approval ratings, with a focus on the Supreme Court. Now, in a typical employment situation, how well you’re able to perform your job is something that actually matters. Donald Trump could have a field day with the current SCOTUS roster. Haven’t spoken in over five years? You’re fired. Fell asleep at the State of the Union address? You’re fired.

But guess what, folks? No one with a bad combover is going to be there to fire a Supreme Court justice over some possibly problematic behavior. What’s more is that our SCOTUS justices probably don’t really care about your opinion. Approval ratings or not, they have life tenure, and their decisions are the only ones that matter….

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We’re about a month or so away from the arrival of the 2011 year-end bonus season. You know what that means: time to start freaking out. And maybe make a prediction while you’re at it. Take our short survey, brought to you by Lateral Link, and give us your best guess as to how Biglaw’s 2011 year-end bonus market will compare to 2010.

As always, responses are kept completely confidential. Be sure to check back later in the week to find out where everyone else thinks the bonus market is heading.

It’s Friday, Friday, gotta talk about grammar on Friday. Welcome back to Grammer Pole of the Weak, a column where we turn questions of English grammar and usage over to our readers for discussion and debate.

Last week, we discovered that 75% of our readers love to use substantive footnotes in their legal writing. Aww, Scalia would be so proud.

And speaking of Scalia, we’ve given him a little too much time in the limelight in this series. So, this week, we’re going to turn to an issue of grammar with some stylistic flair that was brought to our attention by another member of SCOTUS….

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Ed. note: This post was written by Matt Levine, the new editor on our sister site, Dealbreaker, and Elie Mystal.

Matt here. You might think that Dealbreaker HQ exists only metaphorically in virtual space, or maybe in the fan fiction you’re hiding in your desk, but in fact Bess and I share a real physical garrett both with our sibling sites Fashionista and Above the Law. Occasionally we even talk to each other. “Talk,” in this context, normally means that Above the Law editor Elie Mystal shouts at us about some outrageous political position. In order to quiet him down a bit, we’ve decided to take it to the internet, thus spawning the first – and maybe last! – Above the Law / Dealbreaker Debate Society.

I have been set the task of defending a proposition like “white-collar criminals should not get anything near the jail time they get.” (We are pretty casual with our resolutions here at the Breaking Media Debate Society.)

Fortunately I believe that, so here goes…

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In Grammer Pole of the Weak — yes, “Grammer” is intentionally misspelled, as are “Pole” and “Weak” — we consider questions of English grammar and usage. Last week, for example, we looked at a fun an interesting topic: the adjectival use of “fun” (which over 85 percent of you support, even if traditionalists frown upon it).

But we’d like the column’s purview to extend beyond grammar and usage. We’ll also tackle issues related to legal writing, in terms of both style and mechanics. Feel free to email us with suggested subjects for future Grammer Poles.

Today’s subject is one on which there’s a split of authority, between two co-authors of a leading legal writing book….

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Chief Judge Edith Jones: Underneath her robe beats a judicial diva's heart.

Can you enforce civility by being… uncivil? That’s the question being raised, over and over again, by federal judges from Texas these days.

Before we get to the latest ridiculousness, let’s review. Back in August, Judge Sam Sparks (W.D. Tex.) benchslapped some rude lawyers with a snarky order inviting them to a “kindergarten party,” where they would learn such lessons as reasonableness and courtesy.

Ironically enough, some found Judge Sparks’s civility-seeking order to be… rude. Chief Judge Edith Jones (5th Cir.) issued an email reprimand to Judge Sparks, condemning his “caustic, demeaning, and gratuitous” order as “cast[ing] disrespect on the judiciary.” Some observers in turn thought it rude of Chief Judge Jones to call out Judge Sparks in writing, so publicly — she cc’d all of the other Western District of Texas judges on her email — when she could have just made a private phone call.

Chief Judge Jones is a highly regarded conservative jurist and a fixture on Supreme Court short lists, but she might not be the best authority on civility and etiquette these days. Check out the latest craziness — an en banc hearing before the Fifth Circuit that generated judicial fireworks, culminating in Judge Jones essentially telling a colleague to STFU or GTFO….

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Two weeks ago, we asked our readers to submit possible captions for this photo:

Last week, you voted on the finalists, earlier today, Fordham made it harder for homeless people to eat, and now we have finally crowned a winner….

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Everybody’s working for the weekend. But for now, while you’re still stuck at work, you should take a look at our latest Grammer Pole of the Weak, a column where we turn questions of English grammar and usage over to our readers for discussion and debate.

Last week, we found out that even federal judges are capable of creating fugly new words. Chief Judge Kozinski, stop trying to make “dissental” and “concurral” happen. They’re not going to happen!

This week, we’ve got a lighter topic to discuss. Do you have any fun weekend plans? If you do, you might want to reconsider your usage of the word “fun”….

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From what we hear, it’s been a wild couple of days at Tulane Law School, ever since we outed the convicted murderer in their midst. Well, we didn’t out him; Bruce Reilly outed himself, on his blog (in a post that he has since taken down). But being profiled on Above the Law can sometimes stir up the pot.

Or not. As one tipster put it:

Your article on Bruce Reilly has stirred quite the tempest down here at Tulane: A small, mossy cluster of students typically found speed-typing, whispering and tittering in a darkened corner of the library began typing, whispering and tittering even faster! Meanwhile, everyone else went to class.

Yes, we’ve been getting all kinds of reactions from the Tulane community since our original post went up. The story has even gone mainstream. Reilly was profiled in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and his story was picked up by USA Today and ABC News.

But the mainstream media won’t tell you the details of the actual crime at hand. Our Tulane readers have been asking to know more about the actual murder Reilly served time for. We’ve dug up some of the old reports….

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