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

This passes for flying for this penguin, kind of like these test takers pass as good news for law deans.

For the first time since 2010, the year-over-year number of test takers for an administration of the LSAT has held steady. There were slightly more people who took the February LSAT this year than last year.

The worst is over, law deans! I’ll pause so you can hug and cry and feel good about taking your yachts out of dry-dock this season…

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This has become one of my favorite posts to write every year. The U.S. News 2015 Law School Rankings are out. Some schools did well, some schools dropped like stones, and some deans from some schools send out emails encouraging students that there is NOTHING TO SEE HERE and the U.S. News rankings should be ignored.

Unless they do well. Deans from schools bathing in the warm light of U.S. News send out messages like this one from Florida State’s dean:

Dear Alum:

I am delighted to report that U.S. News & World Report has ranked Florida State University College of Law as Florida’s #1 law school, at 45th best nationally. Our closest Florida competitor was the University of Florida Levin College of Law, which it ranked at 49th best nationally. Thanks. Don

Donald J. Weidner
Dean and Alumni Centennial Professor
Florida State University College of Law

Undefeated football team, top-ranked law school in Florida, Chief Osceola seems to be leading the University of Florida on a trail of tears.

Congrats to FSU. Now, let’s get to the sad-faced deans….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Annual Parade Of Law Deans Butthurt Over U.S. News”

It’s the most important day of the year for law school deans. The U.S. News 2015 Law School Rankings are out, and absent salacious allegations about their behavior, law deans who do well according to U.S. News do well according to their bank accounts.

The big winner this year seems to be Duke Law School. As we mentioned earlier, they’ve cracked the top ten. Congratulations to the Harvard of the South.

Meanwhile, this seems to be the year U.S. News has fully committed to “ties.” Ties are great for law schools. How else can you have 60 schools claim to be “top 50 institutions”? U.S. News makes ties like kissing your sister… your really hot, adopted sister that your Dad would be all over if your Dad were Woody Allen.

So, who is #1? If you have to ask that question, you’ve clearly come to the wrong website and might want to rethink this whole “going to law school” thing until you’ve researched enough to get a freaking clue…

Please note the multiple UPDATES below.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The U.S. News 2015 Law School Rankings Are Here: Smell The Prestige”

U.S. News will release its annual law school rankings next week. That means that a bunch of would-be law students will have another somewhat arbitrary look at which schools have the right to saddle them with lifelong debt, and which schools should be begging them to come with money.

So it’s time to fire up the ATL Decision Machine! You know how this works: you email us with the schools you are choosing between, we tell you what to do, you end up going to the highest-ranked school you got into anyway.

Usually, Lat and I give slightly competing reasons, but he’s on vacation right now, so mwahahaha. Today’s choice is interesting: two good schools, but only one is shelling out any money….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Decision: Top-20 Law School At A Discount, Or Top-10 At Full Price?”

Whenever the government gets involved with “helping” students suffering under crushing debt obligations, I wonder if “the government” even partially understands how students think.

There is a new proposal in the budget that would bring significant changes to the student loan forgiveness program. Specifically, the “Public Sector Loan Forgiveness” program. Currently, students with massive amounts of debt can sign up for income-based repayment of their student loans. Their payments are capped at 10% of “discretionary” income. If they work in the public sector or for a designated non-profit, the government forgives the rest of their loans after ten years. For those playing along at home, that means that taxpayers pick up the rest of the bill.

Critics on both sides of the aisle (including me) argue that the current system encourages schools to charge whatever they want for tuition, while discouraging students from making cost-conscious choices about their debt. It’s far from ideal, and this new proposal seeks to do something about it.

But since Congress is involved, the thing they want to do to “fix it” is stupid and will ultimately hurt student borrowers even more….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Changes To Government Loan Forgiveness That Totally Miss The Mark”

The good people at Morrison & Foerster could abbreviate their name to “Morrison” or “Foerster” or even “M&F.” That’s what most Biglaw firms would do. But Morrison & Foerster morphs into “MoFo,” and these MoFo-ers just embrace it. They recruit with it. For a group of lawyers, they’re positively laid-back.

But we didn’t know that they were this laid-back. Tucked away in the otherwise mind-numbingly boring “Financial Services Report: Spring 2014″ are two full paragraphs of weed jokes. Drug talk! In a quarterly report! What the hell is going on with these motherf***ers?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “This Firm Is Cooler Than Your Firm”

Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.

Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.

To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.

My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:

  • Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency: Nobody has tried to use the power of blogging to impact the legal world quite like Kyle. Is it working? Are there best practices that he can share? And how does a blogging crusader actually pay bills and eat?
  • Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal: Karen is who I’d like to be if I grew up. She’s a real reporter. A journalist. She can talk not only about the impact of blogging on actual decision makers, she can also speak to the impact of blogging on the quality of legal reporting. Are we helping, or are we screwing things up for everybody?
  • Joshua Peck of Duane Morris: Peck is the founder of Law Firm Media Professionals. Basically, when bloggers throw a rock at a Biglaw window, Peck is one of the guys who has to replace the glass. If bloggers are making an impact, Peck can tell us how to make a bigger one.

Should be fun. I hope to see you there.

Dean Lawrence Mitchell

In November 2012, Case Western Reserve School of Law Dean Lawrence Mitchell started his op-ed in the New York Times with the following words: “I’m a law dean, and I’m proud.”

Well, he’s not anymore. Mitchell has been accused of sexual harassment and retaliatory behavior. Mitchell had been on a leave of absence since November, but now, after months of allegations and intrigue, Dean Mitchell is officially stepping down.

Read below the message given to Case Western Law students….

(Please note the UPDATE after the jump, a link to the university’s press release.)

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If I told you that a first-term Massachusetts Congressman, Joseph P. Kennedy III, was delivering the commencement address at a law school, where would you think that would be?

Certainly not Harvard Law. Kennedys start at Harvard, but they don’t finish.

Let’s see, first-termers haven’t done much, but Kennedy does have an impressive last name. He hadn’t done much as a lawyer before being elected to Congress. My guess would have been that Kennedy would be perfect to speak at something in the Suffolk Law to Northeastern Law band (or maybe UMass Law if he was desperate for exposure).

So I was pretty surprised to find out he’d be speaking at the UVA Law commencement — but not nearly as surprised as some UVA Law alums….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Alumni Object To Commencement Speaker Whose Collar Isn’t Popped Nearly Enough”

David Yassky

In fairness, the new law dean at Pace University didn’t actually drive a taxi. David Yassky was the head of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, and he’s just been named the new Pace Law dean. So there is only a small chance that Pace Law students will get cursed at when they ask Career Services to find them a job in Brooklyn.

On the other hand, one of the few things new New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and his Republican opponent Joe Lhota agreed about was the need to replace Yassky when they got the job. So Pace Law is going with a dean who got pushed out of running a taxi service.

And it’s not like Pace students can call 3-1-1 if they can’t get a job…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pace Hires Taxi Man As New Law School Dean”

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