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

Now that I’m a father, I have a whole new suite of fears that keep me up at night. Obviously, cops are an even bigger problem now. I’m worried that one day I’ll have to Walter White my son’s druggie girlfriend (which I would do). But one of my chiefest concerns is that one day, my son will strike out three times en route to his team losing 10 – 0 in the big game, yet afterwards some do-gooding hippie prick will hand him a trophy. A participation trophy. And we’ll be sitting there at the Friendly’s with his little trophy-for-failing, and I’ll have to explain to him why he doesn’t deserve that and needs to throw it in the trash. And I’LL look like the asshole.

But it will have to be done. Participation trophies ruin lives. They create a false sense of accomplishment that tells kids to be proud of mediocrity at the very time they should be learning important lessons about dealing with failure and overcoming setbacks. It’s not that there’s no value in losing, it’s that such value has to come from inside as opposed to an external reward. ROCKY DIDN’T NEED A PARTICIPATION TROPHY FOR GOING THE DISTANCE.

There’s a new study out today on American attitudes about participation trophies. If you look at the demographic breakdown, you’ll see similarities between the people who are in favor of participation trophies and the people who end up at the nation’s worst law schools. That makes a certain kind of sense. Isn’t a school like Cooley really just offering figurative participation trophies for those who lost on the LSAT?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Did Your Participation Trophy Ruin Your Life?”

Listen closely. Do you hear that sound? That is the sound of gun rights advocates emitting a yawning silence over the death of Michael Brown. An unarmed teen was shot dead in the street, sparking a national controversy. In any other situation like that, the Second Amendment nuts would be telling us that perhaps the victim could have “defended himself” if he had a gun.

In other news, citizens’ constitutional rights are being abridged by state actors. The Second Amendment is there, at least in part, so that ordinary citizens may defend themselves should the state unlawfully abridge constitutional rights… so the story goes. If the Feds were trying to bring medicine into an episode of Doomsday Preppers, gun nuts would be talking about their rights to a well armed militia. In Ferguson, the government is arresting journalists, and not a peep for those who think the Second Amendment is necessary to give citizens the ability to defend their constitutional rights. The Daily Beast called out the NRA today. This is the kind of situation the NRA usually politicizes to full effect….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Where You At, You Hypocritical Second Amendment Advocates?”

[I]f you’re in law school because you didn’t know what else to do after your BA, because you hate Math (and erroneously think Law doesn’t requite Math skills) and the sight of blood, therefore couldn’t be a physician, and have no goal other than to make a lot of money, and if you dislike work but have always relied on your IQ and adrenaline to ace all your courses, well, you chose the wrong generation to go to law school. Get thee out now whilest a partial refund of tuition is still available.

– Professor Michael Krauss of George Mason University School of Law, in an essay written on Forbes, where he tries to save one lamb.

A well executed survey can expose the deep hypocrisy of a group’s world view, especially when that group is law students. My all-time favorite example of this was the Kaplan survey that illustrated how law students thought that their classmates were making a horrible decision to go to law school, while they themselves were making a very wise choice.

That survey looked at people’s views on the way in. Today we’ve got a survey that looks at what people think about their law school experience on the way out. In general, they really liked their law school experience… except for when it came time to get a job…

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If you are a connoisseur of social media, you’ve seen thousands of links and updates about the situation in Ferguson. You’ve seen a number of reports about the crisis in Gaza. You’ve been kept abreast about our military operations in Iraq. It’s been a busy August for news.

Of course, you’ve ignored most of those links and instead been on a targeted hunt for Ice Bucket Challenge vines. If you are over 40, let me explain: instead of giving money to support research on Lou Gehrig’s Disease, people are dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. Actually, most people are giving $100 to ALS research AND dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. Awareness! It’s working, so read this before you judge.

The… whatever this is has made its way to law school campuses thanks the UVA Law School Office of Career Services. As our tipster put it, there is video of UVA Law CSO “getting ice buckets dumped on them by a row of bros.” Does that sound like something you would like to see?

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I would like to throw a brick at a cop in Ferguson. Any cop. All the cops. As a black male, I would like to fight back, violently, against the forces that have hunted me all my life, and will hunt my son all his life.

I’m not going to, but that is because history is not on my side. I no longer give a damn about the moral virtues of non-violence, but recorded history tells us that an oppressed minority population cannot succeed through violence. I don’t have a magic staff that can bring locusts and selectively drain or flood rivers, and without such a weapon, being peaceful out there is the only effective and reasonable option. I have just enough education to understand that, and just enough restraint to practice it. I believe in non-violence because it’s the only thing that works.

Thomas Jefferson has a famous quote about slavery. He was talking about the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri to enter the union as a slave state (a fact way more relevant to the current situation than Mike Brown’s alleged shoplifting). On the slavery question, Jefferson offered: “We have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.” Everybody remembers that part, but here’s the next line: “Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” Jefferson is talking about justice for the slave, and self-preservation for America.

What America has done since 1820 is to gain self-preservation for itself without granting justice to those it oppressed. It’s been a neat trick. Go ahead, name any “justice” statistic: incarceration rates, conviction rates, homicides, homicides by cop, death penalty rates, drug prosecutions, forced plea bargains, diversity in the police force, diversity on the bench, name ANY JUSTICE STAT YOU CARE ABOUT. You have just named a statistic that illustrates how African-Americans are denied equal justice as compared to white Americans.

Continue reading on Above the Law Redline…

Most likely, this man is not a real professor.

I’m not going to write this post.

I’m going to let you, the readers, write the opening for this post, then I’m going to let the law school website write the body, then I’ll let a local paper write the closing.

I’ll just be over here, laughing my ass off.

Here are real emails I received from tipsters:

  • “Oh man, this is rich! Looks to me like some drunk, religious law student’s online fantasy, but apparently there’s an actual grownup person, or people, behind it. Drunk on Jesus perhaps. Evidently it’s ‘not a scam.’ Which makes it worse.”
  • “Reindeer award? Sign me up.”
  • “Please do an article on this. You could basically just copy and paste crazy s**t from their website; it really just writes itself.”

That’s what I’m trying to do, boss. I couldn’t even make up a name for a law school more ridiculous than the name it’s actually chosen…

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Just because there aren’t as many people applying to law school, doesn’t mean you should apply to law school. Even if there are fewer people to compete with, what can your feeble skills do against the machines?

From the annals my large “I told you so” files, a few years ago I predicted that the “Watson” technology — computers that can answer complex and subtle questions like Watson on Jeopardy — could be a threat to associate jobs. Now, that technology appears closer than ever to making a real impact on client services.

And it’s not just Watson. There are a lot of technologies floating around that threaten to make much entry-level associate work obsolete. If you are going to law school based on a bet of where the legal job market might be in three or four years, you might want to hedge against the rise of the machines…

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You’d think that a lawyer who is allegedly skeevy enough to be banned from representing women by his own state bar would warrant a total disbarment from the legal profession.

But no, that’s not how they roll in Connecticut. In Connecticut, even if there have been enough ethics complaints by your female clients to warrant a suspension, you are still good as long as you are only accused of being unsuitable to represent half of the population…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer Asked To Not Represent Women: Otherwise, No Concerns​”

Well, it’s only taken a week for ExamSoft to go from a random company whose name you couldn’t remember one week after the bar exam to “ExamSoft: Destroyer Of Worlds.” Today we can report that the first lawsuit has been filed against the company. It won’t be the last.

This is going to be a fun ride, and we are only at the beginning. By next week I predict the counter-narrative to get rolling. Maybe a dean will pen a New York Times op-ed about how kids these days, with their computers and text machines and MyBooks, don’t know how to take “personal responsibility.” Somebody will say that it is the test takers’ fault, for buying a program and having the audacity to believe that it would work as intended.

Looking deeper into my crystal taco, as lawsuits proliferate, there will be a circuit split. The Second and the Seventh will affirm decisions against ExamSoft, while the Third and Fifth will reverse. The Third will say that we need to learn a powerful lesson about our over-reliance on technology, while the Fifth will hold that a reasonable person wouldn’t try to write an essay in the clouds: “that’s pure hogwash,” it’ll say.

Eventually this will get to the Supreme Court, which will rule, 5-4, to relieve ExamSoft of liability. Writing for the majority, Justice Alito will argue: “When a person, such as ExamSoft, fails so spectacularly in its duties, the key question is to determine if that person is a man or a woman. If male, the person’s own sense of shame will be punishment enough. But if female, the Court must teach a lasting lesson. Here, we find ExamSoft to be a male person, and therefore must reverse the trial courts. The students should clearly incorporate themselves if they wish to pursue further remedies.” Concurring in part, Scalia will tell us that the bar has become too easy of a test and ExamSoft merely introduced a greater barrier to entry. Breyer’s dissent will be something like: “I was robbed once just like these test takers and, goodness gracious, it was scary.”

Okay, you’re welcome. Now that we all know where this thing is going, we can savor the wonderful journey together. Let’s look at the first lawsuit….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ExamSoft Sued In Illinois”

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