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

What kind of people call their law school library the “lawbrary”? It’s sounds like something Matthew McConaughey would come up with.

Sorry, let me back up. In the eternal fight for university library space, law students are the lions, and undergrads are the hyenas. Law students are stronger, but the sheer relentless numbers of undergraduates can force law students out of their precious study carrels.

Usually, law students bitch about this amongst themselves (or to Above the Law). But at one school, a 2L wrote a whole article in the undergraduate newspaper about it. I’m sure most of Gator-nation responded: “Y U MAD, BRO?”

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I think we’ve long known that law is a refuge for people who are afraid of numbers. People who are good at math don’t borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars for a shot at winning the bi-modal salary distribution lottery and a job that they’ll most likely hate. I don’t think we needed a longitudinal survey to show that.

But the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth also found that lawyers are more likely to come from relatively rich families, which does surprise me.

Studying law is hard, and your financial success is somewhat directly tied to the amount of hours you work. A banker can earn money in his sleep. A lawyer has only 24 hours in a day to bill. If your family makes a lot of money, aren’t you supposed to get an anthropology degree and work for an NGO? Why would you slum it with the social climbers trying to get into the upper middle class, one deal sheet at a time?

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I’m about to be a bit of a hypocrite. I’m going to laugh at someone for making a typo, even though I make typos all the time and basically need to hire a live-in copy editor.

But it’s okay. Under the Cooley corollary, you can laugh at everything that comes out of Thomas M. Cooley Law School without being forced to examine your own motives….

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I’m about to show you a train wreck. Feel free to laugh as this would-be summer associate impales himself with his own questions.

But I’m not showing you this just for the lulz. This is a public service, a teachable moment for everybody who doesn’t know the line between “effective networking” and “annoying striver”….

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* A Minnesota court ruled that it is not a crime to encourage people to commit suicide. So… keep commenting assholes, just know that you’ll feel really bad if I do it. [Gawker]

* I might be in the market for a used car, and I’m hoping to get a really good deal on one of these “recalled” GMs. I hope the DOJ doesn’t screw up my plans. [Reuters Legal]

* Speaking of cars, Alan Dershowitz calls for vigorous prosecution of reckless drivers. I call for vigorous prosecution of any box-blocking suburbanite who drives around Manhattan on a Saturday like they’re cruising to the country fair. [ABA Journal]

* Alabama thinks that people over 70 should be excused from jury duty. YES, they deserve to be excused and I hope they burn in Hell! [WSJ Law Blog]

* Narc is the new tattletale. [Simple Justice]

* Are you an IP lawyer, especially a patent litigator? Here’s a symposium you should consider attending (featuring ATL columnist Gaston Kroub). [Markman Advisors]

* Speaking of conferences, who wants to hang out with Lat in Las Vegas? Read on for details (plus video)….

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When I was a lawyer, I often fantasized about being in a non-fatal traffic accident to get out of work. Not “faking” a non-fatal accident, but actually allowing myself to be struck by a moving vehicle.

I didn’t like my job. But I’m no liar. I’m not like this guy who pretended he was too sick to go to work when he was really just unprepared…

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* I include this line not to highlight the horribleness of zoos, but because I’m doing NS today and this contains a fun anecdote about walrus masturbation. [Cracked]

* Meanwhile, on Redline, I’m like, doing stuff. [ATL: Redline]

* “I really want to go to law school to study international law and be a part of solving problems like what’s going on in Crimea right now.” — Dumb idiot who will wish he read Above the Law before he went to law school. [Radio Free Europe]

* Student gets punished for sending a tweet from home. Should it really matter where you are sitting when you hit the button on the tweet calling your principal a “pussy ass bitch”? [It-Lex]

* I think the jurors on the Bernie Madoff co-conspirator case might be running a Ponzi scheme. [Dealbreaker]

* Everyone is overwhelmed, apparently. [Going Concern]

* Scalia apparently comes up with his s**t while dozing off to sleep. So, literally now, Scalia’s dreams are the stuff of my nightmares. [Military.com]

I think his primary prescriptive advice — in essence, our problems will be cured with the passage of time — is naive and potentially dangerous to those who follow it.

– IU Law professor William Henderson, eviscerating the stupid arguments of WNEU Law professor Professor René Reich-Graefe so I don’t have to. Reich-Graefe went with the whole “lawyers are retiring” and “people need legal services” claims that appeal to prospective law students who aren’t thinking critically about the future market for legal services. If you don’t know why listening to Reich-Graefe’s wishcasting is “dangerous,” Henderson explains it all on Legal Whiteboard.

Last week, the U.S. News Law School Rankings dropped. Prospective law students care about U.S. News more than prospective crack dealers care about baking soda. But for the third year in a row, law schools in California underperformed in the rankings.

Law deans in California want to do something about this. No, they don’t want to improve their schools so they produce lawyers who can better service the needs of California’s high-tech market. Don’t be ridiculous. Instead, they want U.S. News to tweak its methodology to mask the general weakness of the California employment market from prospective students.

I’m not joking, this is how deans think…

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Yesterday, we walked you through some of the emails from sad deans who got knocked around by U.S. News this week. But we’re still eager for more information from one of the biggest droppers.

Washington & Lee Law School dropped 17 spots. That’s doesn’t make them the biggest loser, but going from the relatively strong position of #26 all the way down to #43 has caused a lot of people to take notice.

To its credit, W&L hasn’t yet called a school-wide emergency meeting where administrators are purified by stone and fire. But they have reached out to admitted students to try to convince them that going to the #43 law school is just as good as going to the #26 law school.

It’s a tough sell….

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