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Featured Guest
Ellen Trachman

Ellen E. Trachman founded Trachman Law Center, LLC in order to bring dedicated and compassionate legal representation to those...

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Joe Patrice

Joe Patrice is an Editor at Above the Law. For over a decade, he practiced as a litigator at...

Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal is the Managing Editor of Above the Law Redline and the Editor-At-Large of Breaking Media. He’s appeared...

Episode Notes

Joe and Elie talk to Ellen Trachman, an attorney specializing in all things baby, about artificial insemination, custody conundrums, and how twins can be citizens of different countries.

Ellen E. Trachman is the founded Trachman Law Center, LLC, a company that is dedicated and compassionate about legal representation to those who wish to build a family through adoption or assisted reproductive technology.

Special thanks to our sponsor Major, Lindsey & Africa.


Above the Law – Thinking Like a Lawyer

Baby Making Music



Intro: Welcome to Thinking Like a Lawyer with your hosts Elie Mystal and Joe Patrice, talking about legal news and pop culture, all while thinking like a lawyer, here on Legal Talk Network.


Joe Patrice: Hey, welcome back to another episode of Thinking Like a Lawyer. I am Joe Patrice and with me as always is Elie Mystal.

Elie Mystal: The Sun came out. The Sun actually came out.

Joe Patrice: It did and I can officially report now that is the hottest day on record in New York City for this particular calendar day.

Elie Mystal: That’s the BS, this is going to be one of those seasons where like you go from winter to summer with no spring.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, I mean, it certainly seems like it. Before we start off just we should acknowledge that once again we are sponsored by Major, Lindsey & Africa. So thank you to them the —

Elie Mystal: Hoop, hoop.

Joe Patrice: — The legal search firm is sponsoring this podcast. So, now we will lead into Elie telling us about what’s irritating him right at the moment.

Elie Mystal: So at the moment one of the things that’s in my Inbox for me to have to deal with is next week is Family Share Day at my five-year-old school —

Joe Patrice: Oh.

Elie Mystal: — for our family. So, Family Share Day, it’s a little bit like it’s half show-and-tell, half bring your daddy at a school day, where you have to go with your family and share something that’s like important to your family with the whole class. All right, we go to one of these like ritzy, progressive, private schools. So, great, all about sharing.

So, we’re kind of late in the schedule and when I was told about this, I obviously said, what — my wife is from Zimbabwe, so I was like, well, we are going to share something about Zimbabwe, like teach all these other White kids some truths about the world.

And we were quickly informed with, oh, that’s interesting, but another family just did South Africa, so maybe something — and I was like the — the — the White South African family? And they were like, uh-huh. I was like, well, how’s that, like that doesn’t count, that is — so my wife basically punched me and they didn’t let me kind of go off on that track until we went home. At which point I was pretty annoyed that the White South African family got to talk about Africa but the Black Zimbabwean family doesn’t get to talk about, because it’s already been done, I don’t think that’s right, at which point my wife reminded me that I am not from Africa.

Joe Patrice: No, but you could have shared all that you know about the wilds of Long Island.

Elie Mystal: Right, that I have — she suggested more kindly than you are that I have a little bit of a lack of credibility on this particular topic, which then made me feel like, well, my father, my ancestry is from Haiti —

Joe Patrice: That would actually be a very interesting thing.

Elie Mystal: And kids like sugar —

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: Let’s tell them where that comes from. Let’s tell them about the blood and sweat and tears that went into their Froot Loops.

Joe Patrice: And I think that’s exactly what five-year-olds are looking for, is that kind of a layout.

Elie Mystal: My wife’s suggestion is that we teach the kids how to sing “Alligator’s Old Top Hat”, which is one of their favorite nursery rhymes.

Joe Patrice: Oh.

Elie Mystal: And read a Scaredy Squirrel story.

Joe Patrice: That seems certainly much more appropriate to the age, but do you?

Elie Mystal: So, what I have to choose for next week is the history of sugar production in Haiti or Scaredy Squirrel. Which way would you go?

Joe Patrice: I mean, I’d probably go with Haiti, but that’s also — this also brings us back to why I don’t have kids and most of human society is happy about that.

Elie Mystal: Raising woke children — the struggle is real.

Joe Patrice: I mean, hey, but you say that as if — like you sound like a guy who’s not read Scaredy Squirrel. So, that’s fascinating, do you want to —

Elie Mystal: If you guys —

Joe Patrice: — feel comfortable now?

Elie Mystal: Look, after you hear the episode if you want to like tweet at me and vote which way I should go, I will be taking suggestions on where to go.

Joe Patrice: Oh, that’s fair. Yes. So @ElieNYC tweet at him whether he should talk to children about the only successful slave revolt in history or Scaredy Squirrel?

Elie Mystal: Yes.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, alright. I’ll vote first.

Elie Mystal: I think it’s going to be a close one.

Joe Patrice: It could be. So – alright, well, let’s take a quick break and then we will come back.


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Joe Patrice: And we are back. So you have kids, I don’t, but we are going to be talking all about kids today of a sort —

Elie Mystal: Or at least creating them?

Joe Patrice: Yes, more of the creating them part. Our guest today is Ellen Trachman, she is the managing attorney of the Trachman Law Center in Denver and she specializes in Assisted Reproductive Technology Law Adoption and Estate Planning. She also is a columnist at Above The Law which is a website that I would hope everyone listening reads —

Elie Mystal: Or is at least heard of.

Joe Patrice: — and she has a podcast which is, I Want to Put a Baby In You, which is the best possible name for a podcast about this subject.

So, welcome to the show, Ellen.

Ellen Trachman: Thank you. Thanks for having me, guys, and I think I should start by voting. So, I definitely vote for Haiti as long as it comes with giving the kids sugar because parents, teachers everyone really appreciate that especially.

Elie Mystal: That’s exactly right.

Joe Patrice: So, yeah, a lot of what we do on this show strays from this core concept, but the core concept for the show is to talk to lawyers who have interesting practices that people coming out of law school wouldn’t necessarily think that’s a thing I could do with my law degree. So, tell us a little bit about the Assisted Reproductive Game?

Ellen Trachman: Yeah, I would be happy to, and at first, I will have to say my goals being on the podcast, initially I want to promote my own podcast which talks about Assisted Reproductive Technology, but then I listened to some of your episodes and I decided my other goal coming on here has to be to give people hope if they are at a little law school like Emory or something that you guys bag on, and say that there is a hope for your future, know that, so you should know that. It’s okay, you can have a future.

But, yes, okay. So, I was a big law attorney myself, back in the day I worked for Sidley Austin doing hedge fund work, but I stumbled across this area of Assisted Reproductive Technology law which is the longest title possible for an area of law and we shortened it to ART law, which is really awkward, because some people were like, oh, paintings, and that’s not what it is. It’s making babies without sex. Anyway, so most of it is —

Elie Mystal: It’s painting on the canvas of the womb.

Ellen Trachman: Yes, good, with gametes and – but yeah. So most of what I do is contract work with arrangements with third-party reproduction. So, if you have to use an egg donor or a sperm donor or using a surrogate, and then there’s some court work too because if you have a surrogate, the law assumes, sometimes wrongly, that the woman who’s giving birth is the legal mother of that child. And with surrogacy that’s not the case, so we have to go and get a court order that overrides that and says, no, no, no, she is the caregiver for these nine months but really it’s these other people that are the parents. Aside from that it’s just really an incredibly fascinating area of law.

As you mentioned I write a column and there is news every day just like crazy, crazy stories in this area where gametes are messed up and doctors are using their own sperm against their patients’ knowledge and embryos are being given to two-year-old to decide what to do with his “siblings” later, and so, yeah, it’s hard to — sometimes with a column I have to decide which crazy news story to write on each week.

Joe Patrice: Well, if we can focus on one crazy news story just because it was one of the most gangbusters stories of Above The Law all last year the situation where you have two siblings, twins as the case was who are citizens of different countries?

Ellen Trachman: Yes, yes, yes, the Dvash-Banks case is what you are referring to, it was pretty big last year and is still a current case. So, this sweet couple, so Andrew Dvash — not Dvash, Andrew Banks before he got married – okay, so there is this man from California, met the love of his life while he was in Israel, but unfortunately, gay marriage was not permitted there. So, they moved to Canada where he was a dual citizen. They got married, lived happily ever after by deciding to have twin children and in that process they used an egg donor and they fertilized half the eggs with one of their sperm and half of the other, and this is actually fairly common with gay couples who choose to have children by surrogacy.

And then they transferred two embryos and they got lucky that they both took and so the surrogate gave birth to healthy twins, genetically related to each one of them but then half siblings to each other by the egg donor, same egg donor.

So, eventually they decided that they want to move back to LA and they go before the US immigration office and they said, okay, these are our children. And under Canadian law they were both on the birth certificate, so they are both the parents by Canadian law.

Elie Mystal: They are both the parents of both children in the community?

Ellen Trachman: Of both children, yes. So they are both parent one, parent two for both children equally regardless of genetic connection. I mean, no identifying genetic connection for any child. But, when they go to this immigration office, the immigration officer decides to exercise their discretion to ask for DNA testing. So, I guess, they are tipped off that there could be a DNA issue because there’s two dads possibly. But anyway, discrimination that’s —


Elie Mystal: Profiling —

Ellen Trachman: So they do, they come back with DNA testing which of course shows that the US citizen was only genetically related to one child and so US immigration decides to grant US citizenship to one of the twins and not to the other.

So, Andrew was coming for his job and he had to come start his job and his husband came with him and the second baby — his other baby came with him on a visitor’s visa and I think that’s now expired but they filed a case now to try to fight it.

Joe Patrice: Wow.

Elie Mystal: Yeah, our country can be dismissive sometimes.

Ellen Trachman: Yeah, it sounds crazy.

Elie Mystal: One of my questions is from a big law perspective you said you used to work at Sidley.

Ellen Trachman: I did.

Elie Mystal: This comes up a lot in the big law context with women who are career-oriented pushing, pushing, pushing for a partner – sorry, pushing, pushing, pushing for law partner, not necessarily pushing for life partner and they get to a point where they are trying to figure out should they freeze their eggs, should they — how they can — what’s the best word for putting it, how they can extend their fertility?

Ellen Trachman: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: Do you have — I guess, so, question one is kind of like when do you need to kind of start thinking of that, and then two, kind of more importantly, like what are some of the pitfalls that people in that situation kind of could easily avoid if they were kind of thinking about it more clearly?

Ellen Trachman: Right. Okay, so let me give the disclaimer, of course I am a lawyer not a doctor, or you should directly talk to your doctor and they will give you the real medical advice, but I also kind of like the understanding from the lawyer’s point of view is that as women we have all these eggs and they actually say we have millions but apparently by the time you reach 12 or 13 you really only have like a 100,000 left, it’s like you don’t have millions by that point already.

But until they quickly go downhill and the numbers and quality and by the time you are in your 30s, they are going fast. So, I know that doctors would prefer that you froze them in your 20s to have really healthy eggs and I think then —

Elie Mystal: Wow.

Ellen Trachman: 33-34 are like those are still good and then once you start getting above 35, 36, 37 it all starts going down in quality. So, I mean, obviously the earlier the better, is what a doctor would probably recommend.

Alright, there are of course big companies that pay for. They will pay for their employees to do this, like Facebook has that as a benefit, but I think the big pitfall is that it’s a probability’s game that, yes, to having eggs retrieved and cryo-preserving them is good and offers you this chance of lengthening your fertility and how long you are able to have healthy children, but like we saw last month, there’s like a big meltdown of a tank in San Francisco and also one in Cleveland, where they just lost thousands and thousands of people’s genetic material of all these embryos and eggs.

So, one, they could lose your eggs, that happens apparently a lot; and then two, like you just don’t know that I have definitely read these stories of people who went through egg freezing thinking like this is kind of my guarantee, my backup, and then none of those worked out for them.

I think go into it like with an open mind that, yes, like it can really help and it can be this great tool but don’t, it’s not guaranteed.

Elie Mystal: There was a meltdown in a tank, like what kind of recovery can you expect if they lose your eggs?

Ellen Trachman: Oh my god, you don’t read my articles, do you — you are showing that you don’t read my column. I am hurt.

Joe Patrice: Elie does not do any of the editing really.

Ellen Trachman: Wow, that’s fine.

Elie Mystal: I don’t know.

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Ellen Trachman: Yeah, I know and that’s a really tough question. Well, I have written many articles on this and I definitely recommend people should read Above The Law and read my column about Assisted Reproductive Technology.

So, yeah, so it was a major coincidence that these two different facilities lost thousands and thousands of gametes and embryos in the same day, and that’s a really hard problem where there’s been these cases where judges don’t want to rule in favor of people who have lost gametes because they don’t know how to understand what they are and what the value is and they don’t want to do wrongful death because that’s really — it wasn’t a baby, like what are we saying embryos are.

And so I have actually done a couple features on this professor in San Diego, Dov Fox, who has written a lot about reproductive negligence and how the courts are kind of moving towards this understanding that doctors and clinics should have — should be responsible for negligent acts like this and there should be significant recovery depending on the situation. But it’s a complex calculation of what that recovery should look like and you should definitely check out the articles.


Joe Patrice: Yeah. And also, I would imagine the people in that freezing game, if they are smart are going to start moving towards having all manner of releases and so on being signed, I would think, because they would want to protect themselves from any risk of a power outage screwing them, legally I would assume.

Ellen Trachman: Yeah, and I think most of them already do have fairly extensive consent forms that you are signing and the question is to what extent is a court going to honor that. But I will say since I am talking to men, we did just have a sperm bank director on and she was really encouraging that all men should preserve their sperm as well for quality.

So Joe, I know you don’t have kids yet, but maybe you should think about it just in case.

Joe Patrice: Fair enough. Yeah. Again, I think The Hague does not think that it’s a good idea for me to have kids.

Elie Mystal: No, but that is actually an important point and, again, none of us are doctors here, but if you are stuck in kind of 1970s science, you might not think that it’s important, but the emerging science is that, wow, men are arguably fertile for kind of as long as they want to be, the quality and the healthiness of your sperm does deteriorate over time and with age, so that if you want your kind of healthiest — you are not that biologically different if you want your kind of healthiest reproductive cells, you should kind of get them while they are young.

Joe Patrice: On you maybe.

Elie Mystal: I already have my kids. I am trying to argue for a vasectomy up in here.

Ellen Trachman: Well, and that’s interesting — so this other kind of scenario keeps arising across the world and in the United States where someone — so you have a partner or you are married and one of you dies and the survivor is like we were planning on having kids, can we retrieve their sperm or their eggs and obviously we have the technology to do that now.

Elie Mystal: What? But you are dead?

Ellen Trachman: But the question is like is consent there and most people are trying to like, well, we are married, that was the plan. So Elie, I think you should probably sign a form just in case you die, just if your wife wants it that you should just authorize it, like might as well.

Elie Mystal: Timeout and back up. There are people that argue for necrophiliattic reproductive cell donations, like that’s an actual thing that somebody will go into a court and say like oh, I should be able to take the reproductive cells out of my dead partner so that we can have — I can have — because not we — I can have the child that we had planned on before the untimely death.

Ellen Trachman: Yeah, yeah. So no one goes to court arguing for necrophilia that I know of, postmortem retrieval and posthumous conception is definitely a thing. And I mean even — so even Colorado, we have a provision in our probate code that says you can inherit. So like my child can inherit from me as long as that child was conceived within 36 months of my death and born within 45 months of my death. So if you had my eggs, like they can still — this child can still inherit from me.

Joe Patrice: That transitions to an interesting other part of the practice, which is the whole estate planning part, because this raises all those issues, and one of the most interesting one is the one you just said that it’s 45 months or whatever to get in on the inheritance game.

Elie Mystal: Before you go there, can I just ask, this postmortem egg retrieval or sperm retrieval, I don’t know, but that really freaks me out, but as it has been applied so far, has it only been applied to spouses, like for instance could your sister get your other sister’s, you know what I am saying?

Ellen Trachman: Yeah. So there was a case in Israel where I think they have much stronger feelings about kind of bloodlines and legacy, like biological legacy, where the 17 year old girl was crossing the street and got hit by a car and her parents argued to have her eggs retrieved posthumously, postmortem egg retrieval and have her ovaries retrieved in order that they can have a biological continuation and they won that case.

Elie Mystal: But what — who is the —

Ellen Trachman: Some people feel very strongly about the continuation of your bloodline.

Elie Mystal: Your 17-year-old daughter —

Ellen Trachman: Maybe check with your spouse, sign the consent form, just in case she feels strongly about your bloodline. I don’t know the quality of your DNA, but she might feel strongly about it.


Elie Mystal: Very low. But you are saying a 17-year-old girl dies, parents argued and successfully postmortemly retrieve her eggs so they can find some other random sperm donor and then have a biological granddaughter.

Ellen Trachman: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: That they would — that would be their ward, because if it’s just a random sperm donor, it’s not going to be —

Joe Patrice: Yeah. Yeah, that’s what we are talking about, yeah.

Ellen Trachman: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: That seems wrong to me.

Joe Patrice: Well —

Elie Mystal: This is where —

Ellen Trachman: Different people feel differently about it. I mean this area, people have a lot of strong feelings about different parts of it. I mean even older — I mean there are a lot of parts that are pretty controversial like that or older parents having — if you are a couple in your 60s, can you use assisted reproductive technology to have a child, is that unethical to bring a child so late or is that a problem of inequality, because men can have kids at 80, and we don’t?

Elie Mystal: Man, I don’t think you should be allowed to buy a dog after you are 65, man. That’s just mean to the dog, like I don’t — see, this is — and Joe is laughing at me right now.

Joe Patrice: Oh yeah.

Elie Mystal: He knows that there is this — I come off as this like kind of crazy, progressive, liberal person, it does not take me much — take much to pull that kind of sheen off of me and get to my true conservative heart.

Ellen Trachman: And really like to back it up, to be fair, like these are kind of like the outlier cases. I mean most people really are your average couple who just have infertility issues and turn to assisted reproductive technology or a donor or surrogate just to have a child to get to the same place that anyone else would be. So these are really the outliers. Most people are just regular people who really want a child.

Elie Mystal: Exactly, most of it is not — I was going to use — I was going to sound like a conservative again, most of it is just an equality kind of thing, like there is the random happenstance of biology and you shouldn’t be — we have the technology that we are not — that we don’t have to be beholden to it in that stage, I was going to say it’s corrective in this kind of field.

But these outlier cases are not corrective, they are, I would argue unnatural, right, like they are pushing the limits of what we were supposed to be able to do, into this like why aren’t you with me on this.

Joe Patrice: I mean look, basically since we talked about the posthumous thing, all I have been doing is trying to figure out how the rule against perpetuities works now. That’s really all I have been doing. It’s totally blinded me.

Ellen Trachman: Yeah. It kind of surprised me. So in addition to my law firm, I co-own a surrogacy matching and support agency where we help kind of pair people who need a surrogate with someone who is qualified to be a surrogate. And when I started I really thought it was going to be 90% gay men couples, because they don’t have a uterus and it’s kind of by default. But really I found it’s like nine-tenths heterosexual couples with infertility who aren’t even old, they are just — infertility is like really common. It’s like one in eight.

Elie Mystal: So get to the inheritance a little bit, but staying on the natural thing. Could you inherit genetic material from somebody else? I can’t imagine why you would want to do that.

Ellen Trachman: Yes, yes, you can.

Elie Mystal: But since we are talking about like —

Ellen Trachman: No, there is lots of fascinating — oh, you should also — I wrote this Law Review Article about posthumous and postmortem conception, which you should read because it answers this. It was published in Savannah Law School, which unfortunately just is no longer there.

Elie Mystal: But the paper still exists.

Ellen Trachman: So yes. Like there was this big case of, I think it was the Hecht case in California where this man he gave sperm — he cryopreserved his firm and he specifically wanted it to go to his girlfriend and he commits suicide, and in his suicide note even he was like, to those children I haven’t had, I have dreamed of you and I wish you all the best, he had like very clear intentions about giving her the sperm, his intentions that it be used, and his ex-wife and his two existing children fought against her receiving this and being able to use it. And they won on the trial, but she appealed, the girlfriend appealed and she won, that yes, you can inherit gametes and that people can pass on to their beneficiaries as they choose.

And even there was the two-year-old case I referenced, where there was a case in Texas and this couple went through IVF and they were successful and they were able to have a child and they had 11 remaining cryopreserved embryos that they hadn’t decided if they were having more kids or what they were doing, but when the child was only two, they were tragically murdered and this probate court had to look at what am I going to do with these 11 embryos.


And that probate judge decided that, well, embryos, they have some value, so they are like property and therefore they should pass to the beneficiary and that’s his son, and so he specifically ruled that these embryos go to this two-year-old child and he said to decide what to do with them when he is years of age, meaning when he turns 18 he has a burden to decide, do I bring my siblings into being, which I argue is not a good ruling, but the parent should have had to specifically consented to the use of their gametes after their death which was not the case, but that wasn’t how the judge saw it.

Elie Mystal: That’s horrific.

Ellen Trachman: Right.

Elie Mystal: That sets up the kind of dystopian future where you’re bringing things into existence to basically be kind of a spare part for your body, right, like you —

Joe Patrice: I mean that’s what kids are now, right? Wow.

Ellen Trachman: Yeah.

Elie Mystal: Like where you can like just — I mean that’s what the spare, so that’s the second kid is for.

Ellen Trachman: See, I have four, so I was like, oh, I need a couple extra spare.

Elie Mystal: You never know, somebody might need an eye. If you’ve got four around, you’re going to be, but yeah, you can now bring in, like so let’s say that the two-year-old grows up and he’s got like whatever needs a kidney, and he is like, oh, make me a sister to give me a kidney.

Joe Patrice: You can’t really take a baby kidney, so it probably wouldn’t be that situation but I hear you.

Elie Mystal: You could certainly drink enough by the age of 18 to know that you’re going to need.

Ellen Trachman: No, and that’s actually — so I don’t come across on my daily life, but that is actually like a real thought process, and in Europe, there’s a lot of legal framework about whether you can do pre-genetic diagnosis or testing on embryos and there are many countries that kind of ban doing certain testing or doing specific like sex selection, so like choosing, choosing which sex you’re going to plant, but then they have these exceptions which is they call like the savior sibling exception, where, I mean, it’s like to test for certain things that might be able to help a preexisting child that you can do certain testing. So, that is something that comes into consideration.

Joe Patrice: Wow.

Elie Mystal: Wow. I got nothing.

Joe Patrice: So, I guess this is where we should —

Elie Mystal: Doctors shouldn’t just ask if they could, they should ask if they should.

Joe Patrice: Right, yeah. That’s the old Patton Oswalt routine about this. Yeah, so I think, yes, this is a good opportunity to address the Emory question, to change gears.

Ellen Trachman: Yes.

Joe Patrice: So I guess the real issue with Emory —

Ellen Trachman: You too can go into the fascinating area of law.

Joe Patrice: Yeah. No absolutely, I guess our issue with Emory is not so much that it’s not a good school, it’s that whenever we’re in a position where we’re being asked, should I go to Emory or insert other school here. We almost always find ourselves in a situation where like Emory is so much more expensive than insert school X, and we’re always like given — like if you’re saying Yale is that much more expensive, we’re like I guess you do that, but we’re always like Emory is just expensive enough that I’d prefer to go to the other one.

Elie Mystal: Like, if it’s Emory or a state school and the person wants to work in the state, the state school is going to be offering that person — the person who can get into Emory, the state school is going to be offering that person almost the full ride, and Emory is going to be —

Ellen Trachman: So I went to Berkeley for undergrad and you had another question that was like someone had a ton of money to go to Berkeley and like less to go to Chicago and Penn, and I was like, Berkeley obviously, but that was not your take.

Elie Mystal: Well, because that’s the other side of it, right? So then we get in — so the classic Emory problem is the person who gets into a state school, who wants to stay in state, but Emory costs much, much more, right?

The other Emory problem that we get into and this is where your Sidley experience is interesting is that the person gets into Emory, wants to go to Big Law, Emory is actually the cheaper school, but they also got into Duke. And you are like, well, do you pay a premium for Duke over Emory, if all you want to do is go to Big Law.

So, I don’t know why Joe put you on the spot right now, because that was all — it’s all him on his little computer machine, but —

Joe Patrice: No, she said this was her mission for the day, was to defend that.

Ellen Trachman: I know, that’s true. And Joe, I meant to say I love your sound effects, when I —

Elie Mystal: No.

Ellen Trachman: 29:19 for some like applause or laughs.


Joe Patrice: Yeah. I totally blanked on those today, all right.

Elie Mystal: They are so cheesy in that. Defend Emory.

Ellen Trachman: We don’t have them on my podcast, so I don’t know, I need to work on that.

Joe Patrice: Listened for a long time, I have to really look around to find this program.

Elie Mystal: Because Ellen you have what’s called self-respect.

Ellen Trachman: Okay, that’s why, good. We’ll go with that.

Joe Patrice: Alright.

Elie Mystal: Defend Emory.

Ellen Trachman: So yes, okay, so what, so am I defending Emory, is that where we are going?

Joe Patrice: Yeah.

Ellen Trachman: Yeah — no, I had some amazing professors, they are brilliant and funny, and for me a big part of it was, I wanted to be — like I chose to be in the South.


So I grew up in this really tiny town in New Mexico, I grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico where my dad was a nuclear engineer for laboratory there, but all of my extended family was from the deep south and they had the accent and ate fried green tomatoes, and so I went to Berkeley for undergrad only because technically the Los Alamos National Laboratory used to be run by the University of California so I got in-state tuition, it was really convenient and cheap, and then I was like, oh, I want to kind of explore my roots. So, I mean, a big part was like I wanted to like see the south and be near my family, and I did it, then I was like, okay, let’s go back to California. No, I missed that, but I decided not to live there for real, but I took it as an opportunity to explore that part of our country.

Elie Mystal: Look it’s impressive that you took your graduate degree to do that, because like people usually do the other way around, where they are going to explore, they are going to explore for college and then they are going to go to graduate school — well, for law school you are going to go best place to get into, for graduate school you are going to go for whatever —

Ellen Trachman: I see the logic that probably is a little — that probably makes more sense, but yeah, but once you get a job you are kind of tight, I don’t know. I also studied abroad a lot, so I studied in Russia and undergrad and then I went to Ireland in Law School, and that was probably like I went during my last year and I didn’t have a job lined up and I think that was probably not something — if I had called in I think you guys would have strongly recommended against studying abroad in law school but —

Joe Patrice: Fair enough.

Elie Mystal: Fair enough.

Joe Patrice: Hey, studying in Russia probably today that’s actually important for law. So, anyway — because they run everything now. So, thank you so much for joining us, this was great —

Elie Mystal: This was horrifying.

Joe Patrice: No — well — I mean —

Elie Mystal: Ellen, you were great, when we talked.

Ellen Trachman: Well, I mean, you should check out, I want to put a baby in you where we tell the personal story, and let me give a one quick pitch before you —

Joe Patrice: Absolutely.

Ellen Trachman: So, one of our upcoming episodes is in fact a partner at a big law firm who divorced at 35 and still wanted to have kids and chose to go the sperm donor route and then kind of found out that her sperm donor had like donated — all these other people had used his sperm and now has this like community where her kids have what they call “Diblings” which are like donor-siblings so they are like no —

Elie Mystal: What?

Ellen Trachman: So there’s like half siblings and kind of had made a community and a family, and I know that you are thinking a lot of this sounds weird, but it’s actually like touching and amazing and that there’s all kinds of families out there and she’s good. So, listen up for her, coming up, I Want to Put a Baby In You.

Elie Mystal: This is like a very special episode of big love at this point.

Joe Patrice: Yeah, Elie is not doing too well with this, but no – yes, thank you. Everyone should check out I Want to Put a Baby In You. I want you that you should read the weekly columns at Above The Law. Thank you so much Ellen Trachman, and —

Ellen Trachman: Thanks guys.

Joe Patrice: — thank you everybody for listening to the show, because you are the people who make this happen, you should give us reviews, not just give us stars, though those are good too, but give us like write out the full review, that helps, it improves the algorithm and then more people can listen. You should read Above The Law. Generally you should follow Elie on @ElieNYC, remember to tweet at him whether he should talk about Haiti or Scaredy Squirrel. I am @JosephPatrice and I think that sums up everything I have to do.

Elie Mystal: Let’s wrap.

Joe Patrice: So, alright, thanks everybody, talk to you later.


Outro: If you would like more information about what you heard today, please visit  HYPERLINK “” You can also find us at  HYPERLINK “”,  HYPERLINK “”, iTunes, RSS, Twitter, and Facebook.

The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.


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Episode Details
Published: June 12, 2018
Podcast: Thinking Like a Lawyer - Above the Law
Category: Legal Technology
Thinking Like a Lawyer - Above the Law
Thinking Like a Lawyer - Above the Law

Above the Law's Elie Mystal and Joe Patrice examine everyday topics through the prism of a legal framework.

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