It followed in the tradition of Anonymous Lawyer (which made fun of those august law firm partners).
Harvard Law School JD, who had also graduated from Harvard undergraduate, Elie Mystal was and is its brand voice.
Gleefully Mystal told readers he was $150k in debt from student loans. He described how landlords' eyes popped when he applied for an apartment and they saw his credit score.
He also was the cheerleader for warning youth not to go to law school. And that was before The Crash in the legal sector.
In 2008, 6000 lawyers were put on the street. Since the U.S. legal market would continue to contract, many of those lawyers would never practice law again. Mystal labeled them "The Lost Generation."
This week managing editor at ATL David Lat announced that Mystal was promoted to executive editor. Lat, who had just adopted an infant, would take on the role of editor at large.
I have a hunch, that the coming of ATL was the beginning of the end of The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog. ATL would dominate digital news, at least among junior lawyers and law students. Those devoted fans would regularly leak whatever from law firms and law schools. That provided early warning of layoffs, to-be-announced and stealth.
But the real fun came when female partners began filing gender discrimination lawsuits against BigLaw. Head of that niche at ATL has been Kathryn Rubino. Here is one of her columns on plaintiff Kerrie Campbell.
Rubino landed a job at ATL by covering the document review ghetto under the pen name Alex Rich. Her mission then was to assist contract lawyers in getting and holding onto work, any kind. In addition, she followed the stories of those document reviewers who dared to sue for the right to overtime.
One sustained target of ATL has been BigLaw firm Jones Day. It has become famous or infamous, depending on one's ideology, as a feeder pool for lawyers for the Trump Administration. Former partner Don McGahn is top White House Counsel. The question hovering over all that is this: Will all the president's lawyers wind up in prison, as did the Nixon attorneys, blinded by ambition? Manning that niche has been lawyer-journalist Joe Patrice.
As an April's Fool prank I tweeted that Patrice had been hired by Jones Day to head its public relations. That got plenty of traffic.
Many legal writers such as myself start the day checking in with ATL morning headlines. The early riser to do that is lawyer-journalist Staci Zaretsky.
But her high number of Shares comes from what sadly is clickbait: suicides in the legal sector. They are frequent. The joint study by the American Bar Association and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation documented the high rate of mental illness among lawyers.
Likely the U.S. legal sector will keep on shrinking. Recently BigAccounting PwC entered the market. Artificial intelligence is also eating BigLaw's and SmallLaw's lunch, dinner, and breakfast the next day.
But, ATL will manage to continue to squeeze out plenty of news. And throw shade on arrogance.
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