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

Kevin Underhill, on his excellent blog Lowering the Bar, points out that Au Bon Pain is being sued for Two Undecillion dollars by a person who probably spends his time writing math equations on the windows of his apartment.

It’s a real number….

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I’ll have been here for six years this summer, and I still read most of the comments to most of my posts. I rarely respond, unless I’ve been drinking, which I do almost constantly, so you do the math. But it’s been years since I’ve directly addressed commenter concerns in an actual post.

In my post about the Ivy League law grad who is struggling to pass the bar and build a career, I expressed sympathy for the graduate’s plight. It was a sad story that was powerfully expressed and tugged at my nearly blocked heart.

But commenters claimed that my sympathetic response to the Ivy League grad was because the person went to top law schools. They argued that I would not be nearly as nice to a person who struggled in the same way after going to a non-elite school.

If I my channel my inner Nathan Jessup: YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT I WOULDN’T….

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We’ve received many emails here from struggling law students or recent law grads who have high debt and no job. Some of them deserve mockery. Some of them are good jumping off points for a discussion on the failures of legal education.

But this one is just sad. I feel bad for this person. The kid went to Columbia, got an LL.M from Cornell, but has now failed the bar four times.

I don’t have any flip or snarky internet advice. I just honestly hope that somehow things get better for this person. I think I’m feeling what you humans call “sympathy”…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sad Ivy League Law Grad Says: ‘So Many Years Of Schooling Have Led Nowhere, Just To Debt.’”

Game of Thrones always touches on interesting legal issues. For instance, when the government’s dragons charbroil your flock of goats, you can totally recover damages under the common law theory of “trover.” Mhysa isn’t being nice, she just has a competent understanding of tort law.

Of far more importance to the Westerosi justice system is the idea of “trial by combat.” Apparently, any accused person can claim this “right,” and have champions fight on their behalf to determine their legal fate.

Trial by combat isn’t a mere invention of George R.R. Martin or other fantasy writers who find stabbing drama to be more interesting than “courtroom drama.” Trial by “battle” was a remedy under English common law, and by extension American common law.

And you know what, it was a pretty good idea! Not necessarily in the way it’s portrayed by HBO, but historical, real-world trial by battle was actually a fairly just and smart way of handling certain disputes…

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It’s Friday, I’m in a good mood, my birthday is tomorrow, I don’t want to slam this law professor. Sure, sending out a school-wide email telling students to avoid “the college habit of celebrating your successes or failures by drinking” is ripe for mockery. But, I don’t know, it’s cute. He’s kind of trying to help. For some reason I’m imagining a professor who sounds like Elmo saying, “Elmo doesn’t like drinking to the point where he pees in his pants after assaulting a police officer. Hee-hee!”

I mean, the guy sent along the helpful “blood alcohol by weight” chart. Like, there are going to be law students who say, “You know, I didn’t realize that having three scotches in a hour might get me f**ked up….”

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Be careful who you nominate for “Teacher of the Year.”

A law professor was named “Experiential Professor of the Year” at her law school, but she didn’t appreciate the qualifier. Evidently, some people are offended by backhanded compliments like “tallest midget” or “valedictorian of Cooley.”

I’m kidding, but this law professor is certainly not. In a letter to faculty, she calls out the “express ghetto-ization and limitation through labeling” inherent when you distinguish between “clinical” faculty and “regular” faculty….

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Not our belt, but an idea of what we’re thinking.

Save the date. On July 10th at Connolly’s in New York City (121 West 45th Street), you’re going to have a chance to show off your knowledge to win a trophy that can be proudly displayed at your firm.

Well, not a trophy so much as a championship belt. A badass championship belt that Above the Law and Kaplan Bar Review will get custom ordered to signify that you and the summer associates you bring with you were the best of the best.

Does that sound like something you’d be interested in? No? Did I mention there will be alcohol?

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What law firm wants to be seen in public with Donald Sterling? Well, let me rephrase the question: What law firm wants to be seen with Donald Sterling’s money?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Sterling, a former ambulance chaser before his illustrious career as a slumlord and NBA owner, will not lack for legal representation. Hell, if black NBA players and coaches took Sterling’s money, can you imagine how positively thrilled the lawyers will be to do the same?

And Sterling has a bit of a case. Can a rich, racist white man be drummed out of his rich white man association just because he was illegally recorded being as racist as everybody already knew him to be? Really good lawyers will be happy to make that case. 

For a fee. Will the notoriously cheap Sterling pony up for one of the best law firms in the country?

Continue reading on Above the Law Redline…

It’s not surprising that law grads from top-50 schools have better job prospects than graduates from less prestigious law schools. What’s surprising is how large the gap is.

While there are more than 200 ABA accredited law schools floating around, the employment outcomes from those beyond the first tier are embarrassing. All law schools will tell you that their education is worth the high price of tuition… but it seems that around 150 of them are lying.

Last week, Above the Law released its second annual law school rankings. We rank the top 50 law schools, using the most recent employment data (from the class of 2013). It turns out that those recent employment stats suggest that there are really only 50 schools worth going to — at least if you want to get a job after you graduate from law school.

Continue reading on Above the Law Redline…

Last week, we published our second annual law school rankings. The USC Gould School of Law plummeted, falling 15 spots to #35. Over the weekend, we received the news that the USC Law Dean, Robert K. Rasmussen, has decided to step down. COINCIDENCE?

Yes. It’s almost certainly a coincidence. USC still ranks solidly in the U.S. News rankings — solidly behind UCLA, but still.

In light of declining employment prospects, financial challenges, and professors who are gaining more attention for their hair than their scholarship, might it be a good time for USC Law to change direction?

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