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

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Law School So Shady Even The Authorities Are Looking Into It”

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…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Robots Are Coming For Your Jobs”

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”

Chum’s in the water, folks. And here come the sharks.

Since we first learned that ExamSoft ruined the otherwise relaxing experience of taking the bar exam, we’ve anticipated lawsuits. You can’t piss off all the would-be lawyers you can get your hands on and expect to come through un-served. It is known.

One person on Twitter put it this way: “Numerosity, commonality, typicality, adequacy: Pretty sure all harmed #barexam takers could form a class action against @ExamSoft.”

This law firm is happy to get that ball rolling…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Inevitable Trawling For ExamSoft Class Action Participants Has Begun!”

In some parts of the world, changing water into wine would be considered a gift. Divining alchemy, they would call it. They would lift you on their shoulders and crowd-surf you back into the kitchen… where they would chain you to the sink and put you to work for the rest of the party.

But in Virginia, damn man, in Virginia changing water into wine will get your ass shot. Or it will get you arrested. Or it will get you a $212,500 settlement when the state finally figures out, “Hey, this is just water.”

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Virginia Apologizes To UVA Student For Confusing Her With Jesus Christ”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has been making quite a bit of news this SCOTUS off-season, has issued the final battle cry of every divine-right monarch, abusive spouse, and aging quarterback. In an interview with Reuters, the still-sharp Ginsburg said: “So tell me who the president could have nominated this spring that you would rather see on the court than me?”

When reached for comment in the privacy of his own mind, I really hope the President thought: “You must not know ’bout me, You must not know ’bout me. I could have another you in a minute. Matter fact she’ll be here in a minute, baby.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a fantastic justice — is, not “was.” She will likely continue to be a fantastic justice right up until the very moment of her death. We will never see her like again.

But now her watch should end…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ruth Bader Ginsburg And The Myth Of The Indispensable Man”

If corporations really were people, ExamSoft would have to go into hiding right now. Did you see how every New Yorker suddenly had a farm implement or a rifle to deal with Sharknado 2: The Second One last night? That’s what would happen if Mr. ExamSoft was spotted strolling past a group of bar exam takers.

But ExamSoft isn’t a person, it’s a corporation, a corporation that royally screwed up. YOU HAD ONE JOB, ExamSoft, and you didn’t get it done. In America, you are supposed to be able to get your money back when a business screws up this badly. Kids paid between $100 and $150 for software that not only didn’t work but almost ruined their lives. Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t going to cut it.

Unfortunately, “I’m sorry” seems to be the only thing ExamSoft is willing to do at the moment…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dear ExamSoft: Please Give Kids Their Money Back Before The Internet Murders You”

It’s been a while since I’ve done a terrible jobs report. With Alex Rich around to offer a more nuanced understanding of the contract attorney ghetto, I’m content to just lock my doors and drive past those emails as quickly as possible.

I would have ignored this terrible job too, but somebody responded to the job opening and wished… very bad things on the potential employer. It’s not every day you see a “take this job and shove it” email from somebody who doesn’t actually have the job…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Man Declines Interest In Terrible Job, Remains Uber”

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