Joe Patrice is an Editor at Above the Law. For over a decade, he practiced as a litigator at...
To close out the year, Joe runs down the top 10 stories of the year at Above the Law. Are there key insights or interesting trends to be gained from reviewing the site’s traffic figures? Probably not, but here we are.
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Above the Law – Thinking Like a Lawyer
The Top Stories of 2019
Intro: Welcome to Thinking like a Lawyer with your hosts Elie Mystal and Joe Patrice, talking about legal news and pop culture all while thinking like a lawyer, here on Legal Talk Network.
Joe Patrice: Hello. Welcome to another edition of Thinking Like a Lawyer. This is the last edition of the year. I’m Joe Patrice from Above the Law. I’m not joined by any co-hosts because obviously it is the holidays and I hope everybody’s had some good holiday so far and you have new years to look forward to. I hope everyone’s bowl games are going as well as you’d hoped.
With all of that said, I thought we would today take this opportunity to look back at a year’s worth of Above the Law stories, in particular looking at the top ten stories at least decided by you, the readers of Above the Law through your traffic, to see what really happened, what the main storylines were as far as the Above the Law audience interest.
So with that said, I thought I would take a quick aside before we get going and say that today’s episode is brought to you by your tarantula, who’s very upset and thinking of sneaking away in a way that will really freak you out, all because you’re still at the office slogging through an endless doc review project, make better decisions, keep your pet and work smarter with Logikcull, eDiscovery software that gets you started in minutes. And it’s web-based. That was a little strained but that’s what we have to go with here. Create your free account today at logikcull.com/atl, that’s logikcull.com/atl.
All right, with all of that taken care of, let’s talk about big stories of the year. The number 10 story of the year on Above the Law dates back to the early parts of the year when we learned that Kim Kardashian plans to become a lawyer and will take the bar exam in 2022, at least that’s the plan.
What people may not understand about California given that she has never graduated from college, much less law school, how would she become a lawyer in 2022? And what we learned in this story is that she is taking advantage of a California program that allows her to apprentice with real lawyers and through her work with them and her studies with them, she can prepare herself to take what is called the baby bar, which is a shorter version of the bar exam that kind of pre-screens these individuals who don’t go to accredited law schools for the opportunity to take the actual California Bar down the road.
So this timeline of her getting done in 2022 is ambitious as far as we know, she has not taken the baby bar, which would suggest she might not be on course for this 2022 mission. But that is the number ten story suggesting that ATL readers unfortunately just like America’s television viewers.
The number nine story that we had this year brings us to a person who will become a recurring theme of our top ten stories, it’s Brett Kavanaugh and this story was titled oh great, Brett Kavanaugh is becoming even more of an originalist. This was a quote that Kavanaugh threw out there about his originalist worldview and it was one of those post how do I put this.
This was one of those post-confirmation, oh no what have we done situations, where he is being discussed in an article in Slate about some of the decisions that Brett Kavanaugh had released towards the end of his time on the DC Circuit and his overwhelming disregard for legal precedent. This is something that is of some concern to people who were monitoring the Kavanaugh appointment because especially coming off of the Janus decision which was where Gorsuch and Alito at Alito’s suggestion basically eviscerated 40 years worth of precedent.
The argument had always been for those moderates who supported people like Gorsuch and Alito also, but more recently Kavanaugh that, no, no, they really understand precedent so there’s no real threat here. This was a suggestion that they do not and that their vision of originalism is basically nothing that’s come before matters to them. So that reached the number nine slot.
The number eight slot for the year was, can all lawyers just admit the wall will never be built because of the Fifth Amendment.
This is one of those articles that brings us back to a little-known trivia fact that those astute listeners to this show and readers of Above the Law may know, which is that Elie is massively obsessed with the Takings Clause. He is one of those folks who just believes that people losing their property to the government is the worst possible thing that could happen.
It’s one more reminder that but for and how awful things are here, he would absolutely be a dude with a gun telling you to get off his property. In any event this article tracks how the efforts to build the “wall” are going to run into something of a wall when they start trying to take land from ranchers in Texas, which is going to be required because where else would you build a wall but private ranch land.
So that came in at the eighth slot. The seventh slot is another big story of the year, this was co-chair of big law firm charged in college admissions scandal.
Gordon Caplan who at the time was Chairing the Willkie Farr Firm was one of those names that happened to show up in the middle of the Varsity Blues Scandal. This was the scandal where rich people were doing all sorts of unsavory things up to and including pretending their kids played sports or having fake notes to allow their students to have extra time on tests to straight up having other people take tests for them.
Gordon Caplan had worked with one of the principals in this case to get some extensions of time for his daughter to take the test in the hopes that she would go to a better school than she could have gotten into otherwise or maybe she could have. This is the whole problem. People spend a bunch of money to cheat the system without knowing whether or not it mattered.
Caplan has since of course left Willkie Farr and has been sentenced. There’s some conversations about whether or not he will lose his license over this.
The number six story is actually more of a shout out to another organization. This story was the Brett Kavanaugh Valentine’s Day card is so wrong but so funny and as that sounds really awful, it is, but it is and this was the first of many forays, actually maybe not the first but one of many forays that the website Above the Law has done in conjunction with the Facebook group, Law School Memes for Edgy T14s, which is a group of mostly law students and some may be young lawyers who are kind of playing around in the law student world, who go on Facebook and make memes about the legal industry and put them up and they are a really funny group that we’ve had the pleasure of kind of informally working with in that we contribute some stuff to that site, and we are big fans of what they do and we sometimes post some of the best entries from that website.
One of which was a Brett Kavanaugh Valentine’s Day card that was as the title suggests wrong, but funny, and that story managed to make it to the number six most read story of the year. So this is a thank you because this is somewhat joint authored by the good people at Law School Memes for Edgy T14s.
The number five story is a perennial story, I think almost every year of the last several this story has managed to make it into the top ten, just different versions, same story different day. Stop Posting This Facebook Privacy Notice — Your Pseudo-Legalese Means Nothing!
Those of you who’ve ever spent any time on networks like Facebook know that every now and again someone is going to show up, post the thing that says please repost this or else Facebook will take over your life and steal all your identity or whatever.
This is — and if it cuts across I’ve also seen this on Instagram, it’s a long-running trope of messing with people who use these social media outlets and this stupid meme that gets sent around is something that we decided to take aim at and we did and that informative post to teach people how they should address the notice that they get every time it pops into their inbox probably from an older relative managed to make it to number five.
Number four is another perennial appearance on this list, “The LEAKED 2020 U.S. News Law School Rankings Are Here”. Every year or most years anyway, we receive through little birdies advance notice of what the U.S. News & World Report Law School rankings will be and we put them up, which gives the world in particular the pre-law community and the law school community, who’s after bragging right, it’s an opportunity to see where they’re going to fall in the new US News Rankings.
This year we’re not all that exciting as the T14 remains mostly the T14. There were previous years where a school fell out of that list and it was a much more exciting year. But this, once again proves that those of you out there reading Above the Law are very interested in where your law schools are ranked and we are here to give it to you before the U.S. News & World Report put it up.
The third highest rated story of the year Donald Trump’s presidency is legally over pending Mitch McConnell’s acknowledgment of his constitutional duties. As you might imagine, this as an Elie story and it is a story about how impeachment operates, and unfortunately, it probably has not stood the test of time, at least to the extent that as we discussed on our most recent episode, before this, there’s some argument that that’s not how impeachment has to work and that Mitch McConnell may not even have the opportunity to rule on the impeachment articles that were just passed.
But nonetheless, this was an article that saw into the future when it was written and suggested that impeachment was going to happen and that it was up to McConnell to finish it. So that was number three.
Number two was “Small Law Firm Lawyer Tells Big Law Team to Eat a Bowl of Dicks During Settlement Negotiations.” I’m frankly shocked that this was not the number one story of the year however it was something of a recency problem as this story came out relatively soon and there’s a chance that with a couple more weeks of the year it could have been number one.
This story involved a small law firm who was representing some plaintiffs suing Allstate who told the big law firm representing the insurer that they should do some stuff; in this case, eat a bowl of dicks was one of the nicer things that they were informed that they should do to themselves.
As it turns out this was a bigger deal when the big law firm cataloged all of the various a sundry profanities thrown in their direction and put it in front of the judge asking for some sanctions.
The follow up on this story was that the judge was not too pleased and has argued that the attorney should resign from the profession which the attorney is refusing to do, but it’s safe to say that this is going to cost that attorney quite a bit of money and possibly a license down the road.
The number one story of the year was back to the same person who kicked off the entire year’s list with us and that is Brett Kavanaugh, in this case it was “Brett Kavanaugh’s Chickens Have Come Home to Roost.”
This was a story about Susan Collins as it turns out rather than Kavanaugh exactly. It was a quote of Susan Collins, lamenting the way in which supporting Kavanaugh seems to have hurt her electoral standing in Maine, a state that she once thought there was no hope of her ever losing.
So Susan Collins has spent years trying to cultivate an image of being moderate. She chose to break with that image in ways that fellow moderates Republicans like Lisa Murkowski did not and support Brett Kavanaugh and she has since learned that her primary opponent, or most likely opponent I shall say, not a primary opponent, her most likely opponent on the Democratic side in her coming election will have cash to the gills and a pedigree of having been elected to major office in the state already and she, Collins, has started to think that maybe she made a mistake. Not that she would say it quite outright, but she does say in this quote, have I lost votes over this. I mean I think yes I have. That’s certainly not the place where she would like to be.
So, with all of that said that is the Top Ten Stories of the Year on Above the Law. You can check all of them out. We have links to them in a post that will be up outlining the top ten stories. If you want to go back and revisit some of the fun of the year, we’re all here at Above the Law looking forward to another year of mayhem in the legal profession and we hope you all are too.
With that said, have a Happy New Year and we will talk to you on the other side, Happy 2020.
Oh yes, and at that point we do the things that we usually do.
Thank you for listening. Subscribe, give it reviews. Follow us on Above the Law, reading Above the Law. You should follow Above the Law on Twitter too, that’s @atlblog.
You should follow me at @JosephPatrice. Go ahead and follow Elie, he is @ElieNYC. You should listen to all the shows at the Legal Talk Network as well as The Jabot that Kathryn Rubino does, and you should check out Logikcull. And with all that said, now, we will go ahead and say, Happy 2020.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
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