Elie Mystal joined ATL in 2009 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.
Law school tuition goes up. That’s just what it does. It goes up during boom times, it went up during the recession. It goes up when lots of people apply to law school, it goes up when applications are at historic lows. If they could distill law school tuition into a pill, it would replace Viagra.
Law schools seem very good at estimating how much law school should cost. But are they as good at telling you how much you’ll need to spend while you’re in school besides tuition? Room and board, living expenses and transportation costs, these things go up too. But some students argue that when it comes time to estimating these costs — costs that are the basis for the federal loans that students take out in order to shelter themselves and eat while they’re in school — law schools set the bar unreasonably low. From the law school’s perspective, student expenses are relatively flat… it’s only the tuition that needs to go up.
Tipsters pointed out one school for a case study of this phenomenon….
These days, getting a Biglaw job is the golden ticket you need in order to make law school pay off. Thousands of students are paying grossly inflated tuition rates, and a Biglaw salary is one of the only ways those students can reasonably pay back their massive loans.
The problem, of course, is that Biglaw jobs are generally awful. They’re not giving you that money for free. A starting salary of $160,000 right out of law school sounds like a great deal, until you realize that $160,000 is just the going market rate for your eternal soul.
So let’s talk about why you would leave Biglaw. Don’t worry, I know many of you won’t leave, at least not now. But if you can, here are ten reasons why you should….
I think we all saw this day coming. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito certainly did. Last term, Alito’s holding in Vance v. Ball State essentially announced that it was open season on women you work with as long as you are not their direct superior. Thanks to “Alito time,” you can now sexually harass pretty much any woman at the office so long as she doesn’t directly report to you, without getting your employer in trouble.
And sure, while it might be fun to sexually harass your boss’s secretary, asking female colleagues to “touch it” is not without its dangers. In this crazy world, the female object of your desire might one day become your boss, or something similarly ridiculous. And who really wants to feel up a career-oriented co-worker anyway? Even if she can’t sue the company, she’s probably just going to be bitch about it in some uncool fashion anyway.
No, the gold standard for harassing people at work are the young, nubile, and generally helpless interns. They’re the ones who can’t really even complain about it. They’re the ones who might take your creepy advances as a career opportunity. And now, according to a New York judge, you can do pretty much anything you want to them, so long as they are so desperate as to be working for your company for free….
Anti-abortion forces are winning. State by state, legislature by legislature, attempts to take away a woman’s right to control her own body have been wildly successful. At this point, only Oregon has no restriction on abortion rights. And liberals are afraid to challenge these laws at the Supreme Court because people like Antonin Scalia don’t even think women should be allowed to curse, much less control their own reproductive rights.
I know it’s futile to ask people who think that their religious beliefs should trump other people’s physical autonomy to engage in dispassionate logic. Otherwise they’d be making anti-abortion pills… sorry, I mean “birth control pills” free and readily available. But can’t they at least think through their anti-choice laws before they impose them on secular society?
For instance, a recent Nebraska abortion restriction forces minors to get the consent of a parent or guardian before getting an abortion. But what about people who don’t have a parent or a guardian? Can you believe that they literally didn’t think of that? And the state supreme court just stepped in to say that even though they have no clue how to deal with this situation, it’s totally okay…
So, you’ve failed the MPRE. That’s horrible for you — you’ve failed a test that Saul Goodman arguably passed. It’s not your finest hour.
The only thing you can do is get right back on the horse and try again. But now you’re in for a nasty surprise, because the MPRE people have figured out how to make money off of your failure, or at the very least, they’re going to require you to jump through a needless array of hoops to be able to take the test again at a reasonable price.
Does LSAC (the organization that administers the MPRE) nickle and diming people sound “unethical”? If so, that might be why you failed the test in the first place. You see, in MPRE land, the most obviously unethical thing is the wrong answer. But the second most shady thing is usually the right answer…
Quick question: when is your child no longer a “child,” so that you are not legally obligated to support the bugger when you are a non-custodial parent?
If you answered “over 18,” you might be wrong, depending on your state. Some states require you to pay child support for college expenses even after your kids are no longer minors. Sounds “enlightened,” doesn’t it? I’m sure it does if you are a university president who enjoys charging as much as possible for tuition. I’m telling you, birth control is the biggest bargain in the world.
A decision last week will take one state off the list of those with an extended definition of childhood. The decision can be looked at in a lot of ways: it’s a strike against the extended childhood of millennials, while at the same time registering as a shot to single parents trying to do their best for their children. And the decision is penned by a wackadoodle judge who probably thinks this will help Jesus in his eternal quest to keep people locked into loveless marriages.
Another day, another law school food story. I think after we do the D.C. trivia night, we should head to the Southwest and have a law school chili cook off. Loser has to eat their law dean.
This story isn’t about law students stealing food, it’s ostensibly about students giving food away. Or at least they were trying to. The law students were trying to raise money for hungry people… but they did that in the most Western, decadent way possible…
The most racist thing that happened to me in Biglaw occurred during one of my callbacks. I was being led from one partner’s office to another partner’s office by the recruiting lady at a Biglaw firm (which I won’t name). The partner who was supposed to interview me next was delayed, and so the recruiting lady and I were loitering outside his office for a second. While I’m standing there, another old white partner comes out of his office waving an inter-office mail envelope in my face. He barks, “Where have you been all day? Get this up to [some floor].” I’m in a suit, by the way. The recruiting lady is mortified, and she stammers something like, “This is Elie… he’s interviewing with us today… from HARVARD.” Without a word of apology, the partner grunts “okay,” and then shuffles back into his office, leaving the door open so I guess he could yell at the real mail guy, whenever he appeared.
Needless to say, I didn’t accept my offer with that firm.
These kinds of things happen to lawyers of color all the time. For the first year at the firm I did go to, I eschewed the “business casual” dress code and wore a full suit everyday. I just didn’t want to be mistaken for the mail guy, and was still young and stupid enough to believe that there was some kind of personal choice I could adopt that would make prejudiced white people treat me fairly.
But there’s not really anything you can do to disabuse people of their racist stereotypes. All you can do is keep on doing your thing, as this one California law student is learning…
I’m starting to think that law schools should just start offering low cost meal plans so that nobody has to bring their lunch. If everybody buys their lunch, then communal fridges are just used for beer and breastmilk, and anybody who steals lunch from a food truck will at least have to lose their wanted level before they can eat in peace.
Do you remember how people used to regard blackouts as an excuse to have a party? You’d eat all the ice cream in your freezer and invite friends over to play Monopoly by candlelight and maybe have sex because what the hell else can you do for entertainment? This doesn’t happen as much as it used to because now “blackouts” are usually accompanied by “Global Warming fueled mega-disasters.” It’s hard to party when the power failure is caused by an angry God as opposed to an incompetent public power company employee.
The government shutdown isn’t exactly like a blackout, but it’s certainly been caused by totally incompetent public employees. That’s as good an excuse for any to have a party in D.C.
In New York, Kaplan Bar Review sponsored a law-school bar crawl. In D.C., we’re going to do something a little bit different, probably because the thought of our readers crawling around black D.C. scares everybody but me. We know how much law students like taking tests, so on October 16th, ATL and Kaplan will be hosting a trivia night…
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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