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

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?”

Law school can ruin your life if you are not careful. It’s very expensive and the rewards are far from guaranteed. And even if you reap those rewards, you might not like what you’ve become.

But if you do everything wrong, law school becomes just a tragicomic microcosm of poor planning and bad luck.

Forbes has an article up about a woman who is $350,000 in debt and living at the poverty line. Oh, but she has a law degree, and people who haven’t been paying attention are surprised by that…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Every Law School Mistake Ever, From One Lady”


I’m not gonna lie, I think this is the best solo practitioner YouTube ad ever. The other ones, the ones strange or ridiculous enough to make this site or be aired during the Super Bowl, don’t impress me. They’re fun, sure. But they smell of slightly unhinged people desperate to get attention. I wouldn’t hire those people.

I would hire the Law Hawk. The Law Hawk looks hardworking. The Law Hawk looks tenacious. The Law Hawk doesn’t take himself too seriously, he takes your rights too seriously! The Law Hawk is good-looking, and I don’t generally think white people are good looking….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Need A Lawyer? Call The Law Hawk!”

If you think about it, there shouldn’t be any bar exam administrative debacles. Something like ExamSoft should never be allowed to happen. Every state has its own board of law examiners, and these folks simply have to administer and score a test. It’s amazing that every year, at almost every administration of the bar exam, there is some kind of comic failure from those in charge of administering the exam.

Of all the bar exam failures we’ve covered, this one is the most cruel. It’s terrible to tell students that they’ve passed the bar when they actually failed. But telling them the night before the swearing-in ceremony is among the worst things I’ve ever heard….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “And The Award For Worst Board Of Law Examiners Goes To…”

An LGBT group at a top law school is having a “neon party” this weekend. Posters promoting the event featured a scantily clad black woman with a pleasing backside. This poster has caused a kerfuffle… and I bet you can guess the law school.

Now, it doesn’t escape the notice of the black community when white gay men appropriate black female culture (or white women who have appropriated black culture) as “mascots.” But black people are pretty used to white people “stealing” their culture. White culture is like the Borg.

That said, there are real, honest-to-God racial issues in this country that need to be addressed. Gay men twerking is not one of them

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law School Poster Appropriates Booties, Hurts Feelings”

Derek Jeter is retiring. If you follow sports, you know that one of the most overrated players in history is calling it quits. If you don’t follow sports, you probably also know this.

A few days ago, Jeter hit a foul ball (he has problems hitting balls in play at this point). Blue Jays third baseman Danny Valencia threw the ball to a dad, who gave it to his daughter, who promptly threw the ball back because little kids like to throw things.

UPDATE (9/25/2014, 4:56 p.m.): The embed appears to be broken. We will continue to try and fix it. In the meantime, the video is available here:


More ABC news videos | Latest world news

Turns out, the dad in that video — who ultimately got the ball back — is a Biglaw lawyer! Work/life balance for the win….

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A law dean has resigned amid allegations that he perjured himself in response to a lawsuit. I should care about this. Law school corruption! Perjury! Deans behaving badly!

Meh. We live in a world where deans say shady, misleading, or flat untruthful things all the time. We call it the “business of legal education.” We are used to deans going out there every day and straight hustling prospective law students. And I’m supposed to care that one of them allegedly actually perjured himself? One guy lied when he wasn’t supposed to as opposed to all the others who lie when it’s okay to do so. Big whoop.

Whatever. State school law dean goes down for reasons unrelated to the problems with legal education…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “I Wish For A More Expansive Definition Of Law Dean Perjury”

NPR has a breaking scoop. Sources report that Attorney General Eric Holder will announce his resignation today.

Holder is one of the longest-serving members of Obama’s cabinet. People have called him the most “racially divisive” AG in history. In related news, he’s also African-American, a fact that has really seemed to piss some people off.

It’s been a few weeks without a manufactured “scandal” landing on his desk, so maybe now is a good time to go back to private practice and make millions of dollars?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sources Say Eric Holder Will Step Down”

In the most Canada news ever, a man has brought a class action suit against the Canadian government for its failure to control the moose population in Newfoundland and Labrador. An appeals court dismissed the claim, but personal injury lawyer Ches Crosbie vows to take his campaign all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court: “The case is unprecedented in many ways… It’s rife with live legal issues for a court of appeal.”

The theory of liability here is that the Canadian government introduced moose to Newfoundland island in 1904 as a source of food. Now their population is out of control, and motorists routinely slam into them and are injured by the large herbivores.

Let’s get this out of the way quickly… the solution is NOT to release an “apex predator” to control the moose population. A prime moose can generally not be messed with by any alpha predator. Top predators will eat some moose calves, but when you get out to check the damage the moose did to your car, the sound of timber wolves closing in around you is not something you are going to want to hear.

Oh, and for the Texans in the audience, shooting them hasn’t really been a successful answer either. Sorry Canada, you have a trophic cascade on your hands, and there is little that can be done about it….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Moose Law”

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