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

It turns out that the Office of Career Services at Harvard Law School has been sending out weekly tips to the hordes of HLS summer associates working around the country. Because it’s Harvard, most of the tips are in Latin and can only be read with the special Crimson decoder ring every HLS student gets along with President Obama’s cell phone number and some lembas bread.

Just kidding… lembas bread isn’t real.

The tips themselves aren’t earth-shattering, they’re standard career-services speak that are useful only if you find the maxim “don’t be a f**king tool” lacking in specificity. But the progression of the tips, now that is fantastic. In a way, the tips kind of follow the life cycle of an ivory-tower babe who is thrust into the real world. Let’s take a look at how Harvard wants its students to approach their summers…

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Rachel Canning

Rachel Canning is back in the news. You’ll remember Canning from the landmark recess appointments case, where the Court unanimously held… wait, we’re not talking about important issues of substantive law? That was Noel Canning? Instead we’re talking about the dumb teenager who sued her parents?

Sigh.

Rachel Canning sued her parents, alleging they abandoned her for “not following their rules.” That suit got tossed, because it was dumb. And now Canning is back in court to get a restraining order against her boyfriend. The boyfriend her parents told her to stop hanging out with…

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People in business over the internet like to act like what they are doing is so new and exciting and technologically advanced that the “old rules” no longer apply. Sometimes that’s true (chances are my two-year-old will never know what a “newspaper” is). Sometimes it’s not (paperless office my ass).

But old laws always still apply. Stealing cable (another thing my kid will probably not use) is stealing cable even if you are paying somebody else to steal the cable for you.

For instance, when you rent out your place to somebody else, you become a landlord. It doesn’t matter if you rent it out through AirBnB. AirBnB is just a travel agent (this post should be in a time capsule) with an impressive roster of vacation rentals….

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There’s another story today about the soft market for law school applications. According to the National Law Journal, law school applications are down 8 percent this year, and a shocking 37 percent since 2010.

We’ve discussed at length different theories for why this keeps happening.

But one law school is experiencing a boom in applications. It’s a new law school, one that probably shouldn’t exist in the first place. But it is doing one thing right that other law schools still resist: it’s dirt cheap….

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Senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner introduced a bipartisan student loan bill yesterday aimed at reducing default rates. The bill, called the “Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act,” would limit all student loan repayment to 10% of discretionary income.

The plan is terrible for the poorest students. Currently, the federal income-based repayment program, called Pay as You Earn or PAYE, also requires 10% of discretionary income, but it calculates “discretionary” at 150% of the poverty line. The Rubio/Warner plan kicks in at $10,000… which is a lot less than 150% of the poverty line.

Also under PAYE, if you have more than $57,500 of debt after 20 years of repayment, PAYE forgives your loan. Under Dynamic Repayment, that goal post is moved to 30 years out. I guess the upside is that under Dynamic Repayment, there’s a better chance that you’ll die still owing money.

Again, if you are poor, this new plan isn’t great. But since when do Republicans or even Democrats care about the truly poor?

Continue reading on Above the Law Redline…

What do you do with the dean of an unranked, fourth-tier law school, who gets made fun of in national newspapers for his enormous salary, tries to fire 35 to 40 percent of his faculty, and even makes taking a 25 percent pay cut look disingenuous and self-serving?

Well, if you are the American Bar Association, you give him an award. And not a sarcastic one like the one I suggested in the headline. I should give New England Law | Boston law dean John F. O’Brien an award for “Most Effective Troll Of His Own Students.” But the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is giving him a real award: the 2014 Robert J. Kutak Award. The award is given annually “to an individual who has contributed significantly toward increased cooperation among legal education, the practicing bar, and the judiciary.”

You know you are dealing with a cartel when it is so tone deaf that it starts giving awards to the members who seem to do the best job of exploiting non-members. Didn’t anybody tell them that handing out a “Pimp of the Year” award is supposed to be a joke?

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The world of specialty license plates is a complicated intersection of private douchebaggery and governmental robbery. Why do we even have to pay for a license and registration? The government shouldn’t be jacking people with a hidden tax — a hidden regressive tax that hits poor people harder than the rich — for the “privilege” of complying with the government’s own requirements.

Meanwhile, if the car is an outward, rolling expression of your inner self, then the vanity license plate is the part of yourself that is an ass. The level of narcissism it takes to tell people stuck behind you on the Major Deegan that you “LVB00B$” is astounding.

The government should either get out of the charge-for-plates business, OR they should give everybody the same freedom you get when you sign up for Gmail. If Nigerian princes can find me over email easily enough, then surely the state trooper can run “em1@NYS” when he pulls me over.

Otherwise, we end up with Texas…

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This isn’t just another departure memo. This is a guide, an illustrated guide to exactly how a person can go from “I make $160,000 or more a year doing something I spent three years training to do” to “screw it, I’m outta here.”

This lawyer/artist went to a top-six law school, she worked at a top Biglaw firm, and now she’s leaving to pursue her considerable artistic talent. You can check out her departure memo below. Everybody who has thought about quitting or actually quit Biglaw will have a panel that speaks to them. My favorite is when her parents tell her, “You could do Art Law!” Because when you are quitting, calls with mommy and daddy are awesome.

Congratulations to this woman. It gets better, folks.

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There’s an outside chance that more people will read this post about the declining number of people taking the June LSAT than will actually sit for the June LSAT.

It’s trite and banal to say that “the media” or “the internet” is responsible for the declining number of people interested in law school. Law school deans want you to think that they are in some kind of losing battle with media sources. And sure, the fact that the “law school brochure” no longer stands unchallenged by “reputable media sources” has something to do with the fact that June LSAT takers are at a 14-year low. The truth is out there, and the ability of prospective law students — and their parents — to just Google “Suffolk Law School” lessens the effectiveness of your average subway advertisement.

But the internet isn’t responsible for people staying away from law schools. Law schools themselves are encouraging people to stay away in droves. They put up flashing “Don’t Come In Here” signs every time they unleash another disaffected class of graduates out onto the market…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Is To Blame For Declining LSAT Applications?”

Nobody goes to the opinion pages of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal expecting intelligent commentary on the state of race in America, but a recent piece by Dorothy Rabinowitz contained one of the more racially offensive statements you’re likely to see outside of World Cup coverage.

She wrote that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had become “the most racially polarizing attorney general in the nation’s history.” Well EXCUSE HIM FOR BEING BLACK…

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