ATL Debate

A Chick-fil-A meal (photo by David Lat).

Joe here. You’re minding your own business, checking your law school email in lieu of listening to the lecture, when an invitation catches your eye. It’s from the local Federalist Society chapter and they’re hosting an event on marriage equality. Fed Soc puts on good events, and unlike a lot of the issues out there, marriage equality is an issue where the organization might have a fair and respectful debate. After all, this is the organization of Ted Olson and Richard Posner as much as it’s the organization of Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito. There’s room under that ideological tent. But you open the email to see an oversized Chick-fil-A logo. Shock jock tactics.

To say that Staci and I disapproved would be an understatement.

Now imagine the event were not about marriage equality. Would it be acceptable to serve Chick-fil-A at a talk on gun control? On eminent domain? Is there ever a time where Chick-fil-A is a “content neutral” noshing option?

I say no. David says yes. We let you in on our argument about this….

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Staci here. Earlier this week, in response to a reader question, Vivia Chen at The Careerist engaged in a discussion about female lawyers who curse like sailors. She noted that she found cursing to be “rather cathartic,” but her takeaway was this: “If four-letter words just roll off your tongue, go for it. And if people have problems with your style, you can tell them where to stick it.”

And while staying true to yourself and unleashing as many f-bombs as you can may be alright in some circumstances (i.e., social settings), in the workplace, it can lead to some rather negative consequences — for both women and men. But that’s really beside the point, because cursing on the job is just plain disgusting, no matter which gender it’s coming from.

I know that I may get my bra-burning card revoked for this, but I think that it’s even more appalling when it’s coming from a woman. Of course, not everyone agrees with me — one of my fellow editors thinks women should be able to drop as many expletives as they want. Before you tell me where to stick it, let me explain…

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Chris Danzig here. If you read Above the Law, well, ever, you know that we are deeply concerned about the burden of law school loan debt facing many young lawyers. The general consensus at ATL — vocalized most frequently by Elie and Staci, who each have firsthand experience with six-figure loan debt — is to avoid law school entirely, or at least know what you’re getting yourself into (and STFU when bill collectors come calling).

Occasionally, we hear about unusual approaches to dealing with debt that are undertaken by entrepreneurial — or outrageously bold, depending on your perspective — lawyers or law students. Crowdsourcing seems to be one of the new strategies.

Today, we heard from a 30-year-old graduate of an elite law school who is still living with his parents. He has turned to the internet for help paying off his loans.

I think he may be onto something, but my colleague Staci doesn’t exactly agree….

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This guy isn't a slacker; he's just not wasting his time with law school.

Elie here. Lat and I have debated in these pages about whether or not certain students should drop out of law school. Dropping out has a stark finality to it. And then people call you a “dropout” like your name is Frenchie.

Today we have a more subtle question: should a rising 2L take a year off? He doesn’t have a job or any prospects or anything, but the kid wants to know if hitting the “pause” button on his legal career will do him any good.

Let’s break this down. And don’t forget to take our poll and add your own advice, in the comments….

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'I'm ending my 1L year with a B-minus average. What's the point in going on?'

Lat here. Your Above the Law editors occasionally receive requests for advice from readers, to which we sometimes respond. Back in March, for example, Elie Mystal and I debated the merits of Harvard Law School versus Yale Law School, for the benefit of a prospective law student choosing between these two fine institutions. In case you’re wondering, he’s going to Yale.

(The future Yalie explained his decision this way: “I didn’t want to take the chance that even if I worked harder at HLS, I could still be ranked below enough outstanding students to not impress a professor, land a good clerkship, etc. I also got the impression that this risk-averse mentality was what drove many people who were on the fence between YLS and HLS to eventually choose YLS.”)

Choosing between Harvard and Yale is a high-class problem. Today we look at a situation that we’ve addressed before, in 2010 and 2011, and that continues to confront our readers. The question presented: If you do poorly in law school, should you cut your losses and drop out? Or should you keep on trucking and collect that J.D. degree?

We have two fact patterns. One involves a 1L, and one involves a 2L. Let’s hear them out, shall we?

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Lat here. Not long ago, Elie and I debated the merits of Harvard Law versus Yale Law, in response to a request for advice from a prospective law student lucky enough to be choosing between HLS and YLS. Then we opened up a reader poll, in which about 60 percent of you urged the 0L in question to go to Yale.

As we move deeper into spring, more aspiring law students will have to make up their minds about matriculation destinations. Today we’ll look at the case of a student who’s choosing between a trio of very fine schools: Georgetown University Law Center, the University of Texas School of Law, and UCLA School of Law.

Let’s hear him out, weigh the competing factors, and vote….

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Danzig here. Over the last few days, I have tried to stay out of the Trayvon Martin story. Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black teenager, was shot and killed by one George Zimmerman. Whether or not Martin’s death was a murder or a justifiable homicide has been a matter of some debate.

The shooting has picked up national attention, and it’s shedding yet another ugly spotlight on race relations in America. I’m on the same page as Elie regarding most of his frustration. But earlier this week we learned that the slain teen’s mother had filed a trademark application for “I am Trayvon” and “Justice for Trayvon.”

Elie thinks, in a nutshell, that this is a good and proper strategy to preserve Trayvon’s memory and prevent random people from profiting off of his death. But I have to disagree. I think his family members are wasting their time and energy.

Keep reading for details on the trademark applications. Grab a Coke and a bag of chips, and watch the two of us digitally duke it out in today’s ATL debate….

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Yale Law v. Harvard Law: a first-world problem.

Lat here. It’s March, so you know what that means: prospective law students, those wise or foolish people who have decided to ignore the warnings of law school’s many critics, are deciding where to matriculate. And they want our — and your — advice.

Last year, my colleague Elie Mystal offered advice to 0Ls who were considering such schools as Columbia, Chicago, NYU, Michigan, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Illinois, and Minnesota. In case you missed the post, you can check it out here.

This year, Elie and I are going to offer conflicting advice — yes, it’s an ATL Debate — to a future law student with a real high-class problem. He’s choosing between Yale Law School and Harvard Law School.

Grab yourself a drink, make yourself some popcorn, and sit back, as Elie and I argue against our respective alma maters. And then, at the end, cast your vote in our reader poll….

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The power to thwart God's will is at your local drugstore.

Who’d have thunk it? These days, contraception is a hot-button issue. On the campaign trail, presidential candidate Rick Santorum thinks that Griswold was wrongly decided. Inside academia, students are challenging the refusal of one Catholic university (including its law school) to let its health centers prescribe birth control.

Getting upset over inadequate access to contraception is one thing. What about getting upset — at a Catholic law school, mind you — over a discussion of birth control? Can you imagine what kind of comments about contraception could cause a law school community to get all riled up?

Let’s look at — and argue about — the email that caused students at one top-ranked Catholic law school to get their diaphragms all scrunched up proverbial panties in a wad. Even the dean had to get involved….

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Justice Clarence Thomas

Elie here. Imagine Santa Claus stopping by your house — except this time Saint Nick is a mute, who stuffs your stocking with personal responsibility and brings you wooden toys, because those were the only ones available when his legend was born.

Well, joking aside, Justice Clarence Thomas will be stopping by Yale Law School on December 14th. And since there won’t be a case in front of him, he’ll actually be talking.

But not to everybody. Sources tell us — and Yale Dean Robert Post confirmed, in a school-wide email — that Justice Thomas will be speaking to the Yale Federalist Society and to the Black Law Students Association, as well as attending a class and a private reception. He won’t be making any general public appearance.

Setting aside commencement, it’s fairly typical for guest speakers (including Supreme Court justices) to speak to specific student groups and not the law school at large. If Justice Elena Kagan went to Yale, she’d likely speak to the American Constitution Society and the Socratic Hard-Ass Faculty Coven.

Some students claim, however, that the Yale administration has contacted several student organizations and asked them not to protest during Thomas’s visit. We don’t know if that’s true, and a message from Dean Post (reprinted below) does not directly mention anything about student protests. But the mere rumor of Yale trying to quash protests, circulated on “The Wall” (the YLS list-serv), has made some students angry.

Should they be? Strap yourselves in for an ATL Debate….

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