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War on Terror Topped Decade's Legal Stories, NLJ Says

NLJ_yearend_webbug The war on terror, the roller-coaster economy and corporate accounting scandals were the top three legal stories of the decade. So say the editors of The National Law Journal in picking 25 legal stories that defined the decade. While the war on terror tested the limits of the law, law firm associates went from lavishness to layoffs and courts sagged under the weight of corporate crackdowns.

As the NLJ's editors say, Who could have seen it coming?

On Jan. 1, 2000, it would have been difficult to imagine the current state of affairs. The dot-com bubble was still inflating. We were at peace. The world had even ducked the Y2K bug.

So much has changed in the past decade, in fact, that we struggled to whittle down our selections for the defining moments in law to this special issue. In the end, we settled upon 25 developments that we believe are the biggest legal stories of the decade. Consider this a scrapbook of memories — some pleasant, a few awful — of the 2000s.
Among other stories that made the NLJ's top-25 list were the rise of social networking and e-discovery, comings and goings at the Supreme Court, the fat years of record revenues for biglaw, the lean years of record layoffs, globalization, Bush v. Gore and the weakening of the plaintiffs' bar. And those are just the first 10 on the list!

But there is no disputing the NLJ's pick of the war on terror as the top legal story of the decade. "From telecommunications to transportation, from immigration to interrogation, from detention to rendition, the war on terrorism strained the conventional framework of American law," writes reporter Marcia Coyle. "It triggered new statutes, the expansion of old ones and, in critics' views, transgressed others."

"The old saw 'may you live in interesting times' is often considered a curse," the NLJ's editors say. "And after a decade that encompassed so much turmoil, it's difficult to argue with that interpretation." To cite another old saw: For the legal industry, the decade was the best of times and the worst of times.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on December 22, 2009 at 09:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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