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

He was in a wheelchair. Why would he shoot? He could have just hit the man, beat him up.

Anita Johnson, a Miami-area woman, commenting on the killing of an unarmed panhandler in a wheelchair. Miami police have arrested Rodney Louis for allegedly shooting the panhandler before leading the cops on a 20-minute, high-speed chase. I suppose the days when handicapped beggars were merely dragged from their wheeled chariots and assaulted are but a fleeting memory of what America used to be.

Have you heard of “immigrant-investment visas.” I hadn’t, but doesn’t it seem like exactly the kind of thing we would have? You pay us a lot of money, we give you a green card.

I know, putting it that way makes it seem a little too much like people can buy citizenship. Which they can. But the government dresses it up so it doesn’t sound quite as shady. From the Wall Street Journal:

Started 24 years ago, the EB-5 program allots 10,000 visas annually to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in U.S. development projects, from dairy farms and ski resorts to hotels and bridges. In return, the investor and family members become eligible for green cards, or permanent residency, typically within two years.

Yeah, that still sounds pretty shady. People with $500,000 to sink into a freaking ski resort are probably doing just fine in their home country. At the very least, they’re probably not fleeing political or economic desperation and in need of fast-tracked immigration decisions.

According to the Journal, wealthy investors do this for their children. Yes, the children of wealthy investors benefit from this program. Meanwhile — excuse me, let me set my rage meter to nova — there are thousands of kids with their faces pushed up against the glass of America right now, FLEEING DEATH.

Continue Reading On Above the Law Redline…

* Are Apple and Samsung really still fighting? Even people who live on the West Bank are tired of this pointless conflict. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Tim Wu + New York Times = Oh, like you could pick Robert Duffy out of a lineup. [New York Times]

* Wow, a cop actually got disciplined for choking a… oh, wait, he choked a white kid. Well OBVIOUSLY you’re not supposed to do that. [Washington Post]

* Yes, but what if you beat your wife while on marijuana? What will you do then, NFL? [ESPN]

* And now for the part where Miley Cyrus ruined that homeless man’s life. [ABA Journal]

* Jeff Kessler has some experience watching the free market destroy things. [New York Times]

* Let me explain how “The Man” works. First, he takes away your leg room on the airplane. Then, he just waits for somebody to try to recline his seat, and waits for the plebeians to kill themselves. The recliner is not your enemy. The airlines are… also the jackass recliners. [The Upshot / New York Times]


Somebody is going to need to do a study on the lost productivity caused by the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon. It’s been pretty amazing. Not that I support what’s really going on here: we should be living in frictionless times, but the exclusivity deals like the one FXX has struck with the Simpsons can make it more difficult to access the content you want on the platform where you want it. At this point, we need an app to tell us what app we need to download the shows we want.

I know, I know, my fears are groundless and my complaints moronic. Whatever, I get FXX and I either work from home or in an office where I can watch TV and say things like “I’ll finish this post between the 29th and 32nd minutes of the hour, thanks.”

It occurs to me that if you are at work, like a real work job, you might be missing out and much of this zeitgeist. Come on, just because you are locked in an office and chained to a desk, doesn’t mean you can’t procrastinate with your fellow Americans.

Let us reminisce about the patron saint of lawyers, Lionel Hutz…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “In Memoriam: Miguel Sanchez, A.K.A Lionel Hutz”

As an openly gay attorney at Becker & Poliakoff for over nine years, I know that the email sent by this attorney does not reflect the core values of this firm. In fact, Becker & Poliakoff is committed to diversity as reflected by the firm’s hiring practices, outreach and diversity scholarships awarded annually.

Michael Gongora, a shareholder at Becker & Poliakoff, explaining how outreach and scholarships might help future Becker lawyers learn where AIDS comes from. The firm says it has taken “immediate and severe” action against Walter Kubitz in light of his homophobic firm-wide email, but still refuses to announce the nature of the action. Kubitz’s profile is still up on the firm website, so I’m wondering if Becker management understands what “immediate and severe” even means.

The last few years have helped me get very used to the passive-aggressive bigotry that homophobes still think they can get away with. “Just believing” that marriage is between a man and a woman conveniently leaves out the stunning antipathy to gay love and civil rights… but it doesn’t sound as “hateful” as it is. And the idea that gay marriage can somehow threaten straight marriages sounds more stupid than bigoted, even though it’s both.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to search very long for harsh anti-gay rhetoric. But in the refreshingly genteel environment of educated society, old-school, anti-gay hate speech comes off as particularly harsh.

Old-school, anti-gay hate speech captured over law firm email is downright surprising given the current environment. But then again, bigoted statements that a senior lawyer sent out to all attorneys at a law firm come back all the way around to “incredibly stupid.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this stupid, bigoted, dumbass, hate-filled, verbal feces slathered all over law firm email is… quaint.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Senior Lawyer Unleashes ‘Old School’ Homophobic Rant, Hits ‘Reply All’”

So, it appears that there are some people who have ignored my advice and are about to show up to law school anyway. Still more people never heard my advice from their pre-law advisor/philosophy major. Welcome to the suck.

Well, there’s nothing for it now. You’re in it now and if you have chosen poorly it’ll be years before you fully realize the gravity of your decision. In the meantime, what are you supposed to do now? Classes are starting and… hey, are you briefing a case? Are you briefing a freaking case before classes even start? Jesus. PUT THOSE HIGHLIGHTERS DOWN.

You’ve heard about “outlines,” right? Outlines allow you to copy other people’s work so you don’t have to do it yourself. This is the way of things. I say, cheating is the gift man gives himself.

It’s time for some tips…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Elie’s 8 Tips For 1L Year”

I enjoy the law school rivalry between NYU and Columbia, much like somebody in the SEC enjoys watching Big Ten Football.

Many students get into both NYU and Columbia. And then, when they don’t get into HYS, they have to make a tough choice. That choice will not define their career options: both groups of students do well in the job market. But the choice defines what they want to present to the world. NYU gives off a vibe of “law school can be fun.” Columbia exudes the rational calculation of “the chances of surviving Harlem at night are 725 to 1.”

Because the choice is more about personality than options, the rivalry can last beyond 3L year. I meet more people at conferences that went to Columbia, but I get drunk at those conferences with more NYU kids. It’s hard to explain but easy to see.

In a message to incoming 1Ls, a recent NYU grad kind of summed up the difference in one email…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Late Summer Law School Burn”

Yes, there are going to be a lot of Simpsons references this week.

Moving on, it’s back to school time, which means campus brick-and-mortar bookstores all across the country are actually seeing some business. Forcing students to buy physical books is a good business to be in. The utility of running a textbook scam can be explained in one helpful chart:

You can blame your professors for this. Every student can get every case they need with a complimentary legal search password (thanks to our advertisers), yet professors still assign reading from casebooks. Even more incredibly, professors still write casebooks! And then those casebook publishers go out of their way to rip off students with multiple editions. There was even a cockamamie plan to prevent casebook resale that had to be beaten back by public outrage.

But, professors can also help students avoid unnecessary and costly book fees. Faculty members at one school fought back against their administration on behalf of their students…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Professors, The Cause Of, And Solution To, The Great Textbook Scam”

* New Yorkers, having been put to shame by the people in Ferguson, Missouri, marched in protest of the police killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island. [Wall Street Journal]

* Suge Knight was shot the morning before the MTV Video Music Awards. Okay, here’s a version of that sentence that will blow your mind: Suge Knight was shot the morning before the VMA’s, again. [New York Times]

* Don’t worry, outside counsel for American banks. Even after the Bank of America settlement, there will still be plenty of work defending these clients against world governments. [Am Law Daily]

* Burger King + Tim Hortons = Donut Whopper + Low Taxes. [CNN Money]

* Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wants his indictment tossed because he claims the Massachusetts jury selection process was flawed. Let’s file away the public reaction to this so we can compare later. [National Law Journal]

* More like Iceland’s Super LOLcano. Zing! Can I go back to bed now? [Associated Press]

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