Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal joined ATL in 2008 by winning the ATL Idol Contest. Prior to joining ATL, Elie wrote about politics and popular culture at City Hall News and the New York Press. Elie received a degree in Government from Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He was formerly a litigator at Debevoise & Plimpton but quit the legal profession to pursue a career as an online provocateur. He's written editorials for the New York Daily News and the New York Times, and he has appeared on both MSNBC and Fox News without having to lie about his politics to either news organization.

Posts by Elie Mystal

atl-power100-2015-officesConventional wisdom says you can’t compare apples to oranges. That’s stupid. Of course you can. Oranges are better. An orange is a delicious treat, while an apple is a healthy “snack” for people too embarrassed to have another bag of Doritos. Orange juice is also clearly superior to apple juice. The only people who truly prefer apples are those without the patience or dexterity to peel an orange.

Lots of people rank law firms. We even did it. And you can dice up law firm rankings in so many ways: most prestigious firm, safest firm, elite-est-ist firms, best firms in inter-coastal lowland regions.

That’s all great, but if you are going to work in a Biglaw firm, you are going to be working in a specific office. And not all offices are created equal, even within the same firm. There are firms that aren’t thought of very highly overall, but a specific office of their operation might be doing great work and be the place for your kind of thing.

And let’s drop the artifice that every graduating law student has a burning desire to work in New York or L.A. or Dallas. Some do. Some just want to work at the “best” firm they can, and they don’t really care which stop they have to take on the Acela. You think anybody wants to live in New Haven for three years? Come on. They go to Yale because it’s the best. And they’ll go to San Francisco or Chicago if there’s a better offer on the table out there than in New York City.

As usual, Above the Law wants to help you. So let’s look at some of the more interesting office disparities, and then look at our full list…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Power 100 By Office: You Work In An Office, Which One Is The Best?”

As you can probably imagine, I’ve been watching white people freak out about Ebola with a mixture of amusement and sadness. This thing has been for decades, menacing discrete pockets of black people on a continent nobody cares about without garnering the heath and safety attention Americans spend worrying about second hand smoke or sugary pop sodas. But now a few white doctors get it and we’re all living through a Steven Soderbergh movie. That’s funny to me, also tragic.

Don’t worry, we’re probably only a few dead white people away from curing this thing, and then going to Canada to afford the medicine.

In the meantime, expect some civil liberties to get crushed. Earlier this month, Tamara Tabo used her space to say that people who want abortions are treated no worse than people who are carrying a deadly infectious disease. Or something. I tend to think that people who want to control their own bodies should be treated much better than Ebola patients. But, then again, the treatment of people suspected of having Ebola is already pretty low. Hell, people who just say they have Ebola are being charged with crimes…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ebola Is So Scary It’s A Crime To Have It”

Casting call for L.A. lawyers who want to be on television. Somebody is putting together a show, and they need a “young attorney” and, well, where else would you find a solid young attorney who wants to be on television than Craigslist?

Check out the ad. It’s the kind of thing that will make you say, “What is this, I don’t even.”

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There was a time in ‘Murica when surrounding yourself with gay and lesbian friends was the only way to avoid the endless navel-gazing of wedding season. Don’t want to know who is registered where? Can’t force a smile through one more “best man” speech that devolves into “there are so many great things I could say about this guy if his woman… err, wife, weren’t here.” Having gay friends was the way to avoid all that. Sometimes a man just wants to sit down and watch the Tony Awards in peace, without having to look at another man’s wedding album.

Well, those days are done. The Supreme Court today didn’t grant cert to review bans on gay marriage in five states….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SCOTUS Doesn’t Want To Ask, Won’t Tell Gays They Can’t Get Married”

* Apparently, heckling Carmelo Anthony can cost you your job. [Dealbreaker]

* There’s nothing the Supreme Court can do to stop cops who want to take a long time to release you from a stop, even if the Court wants to. [Simple Justice]

* I think we should just ask John Roberts to tell every state precisely how they are allowed to discriminate against black voters and be done with it. Just tell us the rules so we can start the GOTV campaigns. [Election Law Blog]

* Former Manhattan Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa gets a year in jail for purchasing a sham marriage to gain citizenship. The “for citizenship” part is what got her, because lots of politicians are in sham marriages. [Journal News]

* Judge Frank Easterbrook thinks that the new proposed length limit for appellate briefs is too short. Verbose litigators everywhere, rejoice. [How Appealing]

* I thought “spoofing” was bad for the market, but Matt Levine says cracking down on spoofing “helps” high-frequency traders, who I also think are bad for the market. You know why I’m not an SEC lawyer? Prosecuting people based on them being “bad” becomes untenable when everybody involved is rich. [Bloomberg View]

I know I sound like I’m wearing a tinfoil hat when I talk about emerging drone law, BUT THEY ARE COMING FOR US. Robots that fly and spy on us are being put in the hands of private citizens. Drone regulations are being written by lobbyists for drone manufacturers and other companies. You’re going to wake up one day, and there’s going to be a drone outside your bedroom window writing you a ticket for sodomy.

I’m not the only one who knows what’s coming. Just take a look at this crazy, gun-toting New Jersey man who shot one down that was flying over his property…

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I know Lat usually does the Lawyerly Lairs. Lat likes to see how fabulous people live. I’m less interested in that. My thing is more about mocking those less fortunate than me.

When the tip came in — “please help this poor public defender unload this real estate” — you can guess which one of us was more interested. PD real estate? Is it a Lincoln Continental? Is it a houseboat floating just off of Riker’s?

Sadly, for comedic purposes, the tipster has a legitimate house. Plumbing and doors and furniture that isn’t made of cardboard. Turns out the tipster is a federal public defender instead of a local, cannon-fodder PD. But, if you look really closely, you can see the signs of a person who works for clients who can’t afford anybody else…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Public Defenders Have Homes With Indoor Plumbing!”

This story starts as a sperm bank horror story. A lesbian couple wanted to have a baby, and decided artificial insemination was the way to go. They pored over donor profiles, discussed with family and friends, and finally picked one specimen of biological material that was right for their family.

But the sperm bank sent over the wrong specimen, and didn’t figure out the mistake until the woman, Jennifer Cramblett, was well into her pregnancy. Terrible, right? The sperm bank apologized and gave her a refund, which probably doesn’t even scratch their legal liability. But the woman carried the baby to term and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.

Now, two years later, Cramblett wants to sue. The sperm donor mixup really should be enough to support her claims for wrongful birth and breach of warranty. But Cramblett has added a surprising twist to her protestations of harm. It turns out that the incorrect donor was black. Cramblett now claims emotional distress because her family and town are too racially intolerant for her to raise a mixed-race daughter in their midst…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “White Woman Learns What It’s Like To Be A Black Mother, Sues”

Here’s an interesting legal question that does not break down along Republican/Democrat or liberal/conservative lines: should animal abusers go to jail?

Okay, sure, unless you are a psychopath, you probably think that animal torturers should go to jail. But what about run-of-the-mill, “the dog was bothering me so I kicked it” people? Should the punishment for kicking a cat down a flight of stairs be just as severe as kicking a human down a flight of stairs? Should it be worse?

It’s a tough call, right? Personally, I think people who abuse animals are the scum of the Earth. Maybe one small step up from pedophiles, but right down there with child abusers and other violent criminals in terms of moral turpitude.

But in terms of legal punishment? Really, do we want to ruin people’s lives and contribute to the over-incarceration of our society by putting people in jail for kicking a cat? Where do you draw the line? The last time I had a mouse, I bought a “humane” electrocution trap that killed the sucker in two seconds before I dumped it in my trash. I don’t expect to arrested for publishing that information…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dogs Go To Heaven, Animal Abusers Go To Jail”

Every law talkin’ guy is weighing in on the Supreme Court’s decision to restrict early voting in Ohio. The decision broke down 5-4, along predictable party lines. The same five justices who gave corporations a blank check to buy elections, the same five justices who decided to declare racism over in the South, decided to stay the restriction on Ohio preventing the state from scaling back early voting from five weeks to four weeks. No opinion was given, but it’s likely that the conservative justices applied a narrow reading to voting rights protections under the Equal Protection clause and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, according to Professor Rick Hasen. Shocker.

I get it, politically. It’s obvious that Democrats feel like their electoral chances are enhanced by allowing everybody to vote as easily as possible. It’s also obvious that Republicans feel like their chances at the polls are better if fewer people vote and richer people have more influence. That’s politics. Census 2020, bring your pitchforks.

But Supreme Court justices are supposed to be above petty politics. And even though we know that they are not, what is the ideological advantage of being against voters? Their jobs are unassailable. They are unaccountable to the people. Why then make it harder for “the people” to elect who they want?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Why Do Conservative Justices Hate Voters?”

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