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

Usually, the pursuit of “work/life balance” is just a fight between management and labor. Occasionally, it’s an internal conversation where an employee’s desire to succeed professionally is pitted against his or her desire to succeed domestically. Of course, there are always the people who believe they can “have it all,” as if work/life balance can be reduced to checking a number of accomplishment boxes in the most brutally efficient way possible.

But occasionally, work/life balance becomes a battle ground for people to justify a number of “life” choices that have nothing to do with work.

That’s what we have here today. A memo went around one of the top firms in Manhattan from a woman claiming she needed an “I’m having a baby day” so she could go to a Katy Perry concert. Before I post it and open up the comments, I’m going to make some popcorn — that’ll give everybody some time to ramp up their outrage meters to 11…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Work/Life Balance, Biglaw Women, And Katy Perry”

There’s a curious case making the rounds today involving a top law school, its LL.M. program, and a convicted con man.

Mauricio Celis was convicted in 2009 for pretending to be a lawyer in Texas. Celis said that he was barred in Mexico but authorities contended that he was not, though Celis maintains his innocence.

In any event, after his conviction for unauthorized practice of law, he went to get an LL.M. After he enrolled, paid money, and spent months in the program, the school found out about his conviction and expelled him before graduation. After expulsion, Celis essentially filed an Adam Sandler-style lawsuit against the school, arguing that this was news that could have been brought to his attention yesterday.

While most of the internet is reacting with antipathy towards Celis, I’m going to defend the man. If schools weren’t so desperate to cash in on foreigners through expensive LL.M programs, they might have noticed the easily available public information about Celis’s past…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Anecdotal Evidence That LLMs Are A Giant Cash Grab”

Holy crap, it worked. Not the ads or the begging or a pointless debate with an implacable owner, but simply going through the legal system actually worked. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancelled six federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins. The office held that the marks could not be protected because they are “disparaging to Native Americans.”

You see, not everything in this world is subject to the whim of a rich white man who doesn’t care about the people he’s offending. We are a nation of laws, and sometimes those laws even win!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Patent Office Just Tomahawk-Chopped The ‘Redskins’ Trademark”

If television producers put up this Craigslist ad because they were casting for a reality show about a bunch of lawyers living in a D.C. house, then this would make sense. Every week, two of the housemates have to argue why they should stay and another should go. People would watch it.

But this isn’t a television producer being polite, this is law graduates being real. A group of self-described, recent law school graduates are looking for another roommate who must also be a recent law grad — preferably one who is clerking or working for a Congressional committee.

It seems like instead of looking for a roommate on Craigslist, they should be using LinkedIn…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Clerks Try To Construct Most Toolish Apartment On The Block”

Like a GM automobile, claims against the company arising from its faulty ignition switches might unexpectedly stop working.

While GM is talking a big game about compensating those who suffered damages due to the company’s defective cars, GM’s definition of “damages” is cleverly designed to save the company billions.

As you might remember, GM filed for bankruptcy about five years ago. “Old GM” sold all of its valuable assets to “New GM” — which was a federally backed company. All of Old GM’s bad assets and liabilities were handled through the chapter 11 bankruptcy process. In simplified terms, that means that anybody who had a beef with Old GM needed to settle their business with the company in 2009.

That’s bad news for some people who bought faulty GM cars.

Continue Reading on Above the Law Redline…

The justice system in California suffered a complete meltdown yesterday, and an alleged career criminal who should be in jail is now in the morgue.

Here’s what happened: Bobby Lee Pearson was on trial for burglary in a Fresno County court. The jury was deadlocked. I’ve written before about how our jury system is probably the worst system possible, aside from all the other ones that have been tried.

If the jurors had told Judge W. Kent Hamlin they were deadlocked, he would have declared a mistrial. But there’s no “box” on the verdict form for no verdict, you have to actually tell the judge. This, evidently, confused the s**t out of 12 souls in Fresno. Instead of telling the judge, leaving the form blank, or simply asking for help, the jurors did the dumbest and laziest thing possible, and filled in “not guilty”on the verdict form.

Hamlin read the verdict, and released Pearson. Only later did jurors inform him that they had no freaking idea what they were doing. But it was too late for Pearson.

Continue Reading on Above the Law Redline…

I shouldn’t laugh at this. A recent law school graduate got completely screwed by her own father and I shouldn’t find it so funny.

But I do. I find it goddamn hilarious. The student actually got a clue halfway through law school and decided to drop out. But her father convinced her to stick it out by promising to pay her tuition. She finished, she graduated, and when it came time to pay the bills, Daddy said, “Sorry, I lied.”

Ha. Hahahahaha. When will law students learn that EVERYBODY IS LYING. You know, except me. EVERYBODY ELSE IS LYING…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Father Ultimately Trolls Law Student Daughter”

Upon reaching my mid-thirties with a wife, a kid, and a dog, it became apparent that the “dream” of renting a tiny box on the island of Manhattan was over. My family and I decided against the Brooklyn half-step, because paying Manhattan rent for a slightly bigger box that would itself be too small for our family in ten seconds seemed stupid. So we zeroed in on buying in Westchester because: Grand Central >> the holding pen at Gitmo >> buying a mule >> Penn Station >> Chernobyl >> Port Authority.

The problem of course with buying property in Westchester is that we’re poor. Not “poor” in the “I need government assistance” sense (though, more on that later). Not even poor in the “I’m a salaried employee and don’t mind when Charles Barkley makes fun of my city” sense. I mean poor in that uniquely NYC/LA/London sort of way that makes you feel “How IN THE F**K do I not make enough money to afford this?”

The other problem was that I’ve spent the better part of the last six years screaming at people to avoid crushing debt obligations. To buy a house, I’m going into more debt than I’ve ever been before, and we know that things didn’t go so smoothly the first time.

But… kids man, what are you going to do? As part of my ongoing attempts to make egregious mistakes and then write about them, here are five things I didn’t really understand about the house-buying process. Note, I had my lawyer hat on, which means I wasn’t flummoxed by things like “taxes” or “closing costs.” Still, there’s a bunch of stuff that doesn’t come up in Real Property or Trusts and Estates…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “5 Lessons I Learned From Buying A House In Westchester While Poor”

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

Here is an email I have theoretically received while moving and not checking my email: “Hello Walrus, I really want to bring some summers to your summer associate trivia thing. I know you say that I can be reimbursed by my firm, but I don’t want to be the first person to go to the recruiting person to ask.”

Fine. We’ve asked for you. Above the Law is hosting a trivia event on July 10th at Connolly’s in New York City. Associates can bring a teams of up to five summers with them to represent their firm. The winning team will get a championship belt to take back to their firm. Drinks and food will be provided. It will be fun.

And since you don’t want to ask, we have. We’ve emailed 75 firms around New York City, they know what we’re doing and they’re expecting your call. In addition, teams representing the following firms have already signed up: Curtis Mallet, Frommer Lawrence, Gibson Dunn, Vedder Price, Herbert Smith, Fish & Richardson.

We expect to see you guys there. We expect enough of you to come to justify buying this preposterous belt.

This will probably end badly.

I don’t know what kind of “logic” makes prospective law students think that they’ll all end up in the top five percent of their classes. But I’m pretty sure the same kind of fallacy arises when a male law school graduate thinks that two women want to take him home from a bar and make love to him at the same time.

Maybe it’s not a logical fault. Maybe it’s the old Achilles heel for lawyers; they’re bad at math. Just because something is possible doesn’t make it probable. What’s probable is that the two women intend to rob you (you know, just like most law schools)…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dear Lawyers: If Two Women Want You In Their Threesome, They’re About To Rob You”

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