Lawyers take reader vote for most famous BigLaw lawyer way too seriously

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A publication’s call for readers to name the most famous practicing BigLaw lawyer was intended to be fun.

The idea began with a “casually tossed off question” in the news room of Bloomberg Big Law Business, according to the original story describing the poll. The decision was made to let readers weigh in with their top five picks for the most famous practicing BigLaw lawyer. Scoring would mirror that of the NBA system for determining the most valuable player.

Big Law Business editor and writer Casey Sullivan soon learned a lesson about just how competitive lawyers can be, he says in a story at Big Law Business.

A source alerted Sullivan to a blast email soliciting votes for Ralph Ferrara, a securities partner with Proskauer Rose who formerly worked at Dewey & LeBoeuf. Soon, the votes for Ferrara began arriving in the Big Law Business email inbox.

The email soliciting votes for Ferrara, written by one of his partners, wrongly characterized the contest as a “survey of notable practicing lawyers,” rather than a vote on the most famous practicing BigLaw lawyer. Sullivan decided to send an email describing the informal poll to about 400 people.

Soon afterward, one of the recipients contacted Sullivan. He wanted to know whether the poll was U.S. specific or international. The recipient also complained that Big Law Business had “put a thumb on the scales” by including a picture in its original story of three lawyers at a movie premiere: David Boies, Ted Boutrous and Ted Olson.

The poll ended on Friday at 5 p.m.

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