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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...

Kathryn Rubino

Kathryn Rubino is a member of the editorial staff at Above the Law. She has a degree in journalism...

Episode Notes

Joe and Kathryn have a spontaneous chat about lawyers on television. From game shows to reality competitions, lawyers were all over the place last week. In a sense though, aren’t these shows metaphors for the legal profession? No, they’re probably not — but that’s not going to stop us from trying to explain how they might be.


Above the Law – Thinking Like a Lawyer

Lawyers On TV





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 to another edition of Thinking Like a Lawyer. I am Joe Patrice from Above the Law. I am joined by Kathryn Rubino. How are you?


Kathryn Rubino: I am good, how are you?


Joe Patrice: Great. Kathryn is also of Above the Law and the host of The Jabot Podcast. She is filling in because yet again Elie has decided to abandon us, but —


Kathryn Rubino: I’m actually just going to put this podcast on my résumé these days because I feel like I do it as much if not more than Elie, so I feel like that I deserved that like entry on my CV.


Joe Patrice: I think over the last couple months you have actually done it more often, so I think that’s probably fair.


Kathryn Rubino: So it’s a fair, it’s just totally a fair thing.


Joe Patrice: So we will take this again from the top. Welcome to Thinking Like a Lawyer with your usual hosts, Joe and Kathryn.


Hey — so how are you doing this fine day?


Kathryn Rubino: I’m good. I am good. I know this is kind of cliché, but I think that giving the coming climate cataclysm I think we actually can talk about the weather without just being boring people.


Joe Patrice: Okay.


Kathryn Rubino: Because yesterday it was 90 degrees.


Joe Patrice: Yeah. And it is not today.


Kathryn Rubino: It is, it is absurd first of all how much it is absolute, it’s like in the low 50s today.


Joe Patrice: No, it’s not, but you’re overreacting.


Kathryn Rubino: It was this morning.


Joe Patrice: At one point when the Sun wasn’t up it was cold, yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, but also I was watching the local news and some weather person was very excited about the possibility that we were going to hit 90 yesterday because I mean it’s a record.


Joe Patrice: Yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: And I just — it made me really sad because it’s only a record because of global warming.


Joe Patrice: Yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: And I mean just kind of the disconnect between, oh, is this exciting, we’re hitting 90 degrees.


Joe Patrice: You know, I don’t — look, I have some —


Kathryn Rubino: It means October, right?


Joe Patrice: I have some sympathy, look like you’re a weather person like —


Kathryn Rubino: You don’t get many big stories.


Joe Patrice: Really as you’re exciting. I mean the only other thing is if you get chosen to be the poor schmuck and the slicker out in the middle of a hurricane, like that’s the only other time you’re going to have any fun. I feel like —


Kathryn Rubino: I don’t know, but like — I think instead of being like this is exciting like this is terrifying.


Joe Patrice: This is like — this is like when things go really wrong and everybody has to turn around and realize, oh, there’s an ERISA person, like it doesn’t come up all that often and then —


Kathryn Rubino: But when it does, it’s very exciting for that person.


Joe Patrice: But yeah, there’s legal equivalence to that just what to say.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, there are. But you know what, it’s been kind of fun this week also.


Joe Patrice: What has been fun this week also? You’re doing a good job of making this seem like natural conversation instead of a —


Kathryn Rubino: When you are absolutely calling me out for it.


Joe Patrice: Yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: Several plans, conversation that we’re having. Although, honestly, it wasn’t planned as much as these are just things that I want to talk about.


Joe Patrice: Go for it.


Kathryn Rubino: Well, they’ve been a bunch of law school students on television this week.


Joe Patrice: Okay.


Kathryn Rubino: Earlier this week there was a student that was appeared on Wheel of Fortune.


Joe Patrice: Okay.


Kathryn Rubino: I don’t know if you like Wheel of Fortune as much as I do, I mean —


Joe Patrice: Not at all.


Kathryn Rubino: But you’ve seen Wheel of Fortune?


Joe Patrice: I have in fact seen Wheel of Fortune.


Kathryn Rubino: Christian Byrne from the University of New Mexico School of Law was on Wheel earlier this week. She was not the big winner.


Joe Patrice: Oh.


Kathryn Rubino: Not the big winner, but she did at one point get the million dollar token. Are you familiar with the million dollar token, how it works on Wheel?


Joe Patrice: Yeah, it’s kind of a lie, right, like it’s you can —


Kathryn Rubino: Full crap, it is — no, no, it is not, like don’t even put it on there. Okay, first of all even if they only have the tiniest little third of a actual spoke on the wheel is actually just a million dollars, so it’s a really, really small chance to even going to land on it in the first place first of all.


Second of all, you have to be the big winner and get to the game at the — the bonus game at the end —


Joe Patrice: And you can’t have get in a bankrupt any time.


Kathryn Rubino: Right, if you get any bankrupt in any of the games you lose, it’s one of those like tokens that you like physically lose if you hit your bankruptcy, and then it’s not like, okay, well, you got to the end. Well, then if you solve the puzzle at the end, which is hard, oh then you get a million dollars. No. No, no all it means, all it means is that, one of the options like 1 in 64 chance that you could be eligible to win a million dollars, and you don’t even put the million dollars on, like it’s not worth it, like immediate, they put it on during the like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire kind of like hotness, but at this point like it’s just a lie.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, I wonder and this is where I feel like our statistician friends would be more useful, like I’d be interested in hearing if somebody can run through the numbers on what the actual odds are of you ending up with a million based on that.


Kathryn Rubino: Seems super super low, and I mean like generally speaking I feel like Wheel of Fortune is one of the more generous game shows, like all of the contestants get to keep their winnings not just the big winner, right.




So if you win and the minimum is something like $1,000, so like no matter what you’re getting a $1,000 for a half hour of work even if you literally do no other work, which is fairly nice, and like if you win $8,000, like Christian did, she got to keep her $8,000, she wasn’t a big winner, but she still got $8,000, which is not a bad payday. It’s pretty nice as far as game shows goes, better than like Jeopardy, right, who like doesn’t matter if you come in second by a dollar with $26,000, you’re getting $2,000.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, I always feel bad for the second and third place Jeopardy people.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, I mean I guess it goes the other way.


Joe Patrice: First though is really making Bank these days, yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: Well, but I mean I guess it kind of goes the other way too, if you finish with one dollar and you are second you also get $2,000.


Joe Patrice: You get the $2,000.


Kathryn Rubino: But I feel like it happens less frequently. But so my point is just that it feels like it’s relatively generous as far as the game show market goes and yet I don’t even know — like don’t even give — don’t fake me out with this million dollars it’s not real, and I have only really seen like somebody get to the point where it’s even a possibility that they could just spin the mini wheel to maybe land on the million dollar prize, like maybe two or three times, I think somebody like actually solved the puzzle then like once. As far as my recollection goes, I mean, obviously I don’t watch it every day, most of the time. But, my point is like, it’s already so rare like it just seems a little ridiculous, and not even like really do it like make it another prize, make it something else that’s more fun.


Joe Patrice: Yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: I think you’re willing to actually give away.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, no I mean, okay. I don’t really know where to take that, but doesn’t seem —


Kathryn Rubino: Well, game show has got game shows, law school students.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, okay. So in a lot of ways you’re saying this was a metaphor for the experience of law school. She was promised a lot of money, ultimately it’s almost impossible to get access to that and at the end she didn’t end up with it.


Kathryn Rubino: I mean, well, I mean in fairness this particular contestant Christian, she actually hit bankruptcy a couple times, so she didn’t even like and again she wasn’t the big winner, so she didn’t get a chance to play for it. But at one point she gets to pick up the million dollar little card and that was — that’s a thing she got to do.


Joe Patrice: She had an interview, that’s what you are saying. Yeah, that’s the metaphor kids.


Kathryn Rubino: Basically, basically.


Joe Patrice: That’s the metaphor. So, there were other people on TV?


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah. Another game show.


Joe Patrice: Ooh, okay.


Kathryn Rubino: Ooh. We actually wrote about this a couple of weeks ago, because one of the contestants on Survivor this year is a Duke Law School student. Yeah.


Joe Patrice: And everybody reads for Duke.


Kathryn Rubino: Fair enough. But actually there’s a few other legal personalities on the game, on Survivor this season as well, I think on each tribe there’s currently a personal injury attorney. But Molly was in law school. She is a second-year law student at Duke, and spoiler alert last night she got kicked off the show.


Joe Patrice: Oh.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah. It was very dramatic. I don’t know if you’re a big fan of ‘Survivor’ anymore.


Joe Patrice: No.


Kathryn Rubino: Okay, okay. All right, again, it’s not 2001 anymore.


Joe Patrice: It is not.


Kathryn Rubino: But I still enjoy — I still enjoy the competition reality TV genre.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, yeah. Sounds like it.


Kathryn Rubino: You’re really — you’re not being nice to me here.


Joe Patrice: Yeah. Yeah, that’s fair.


Kathryn Rubino: Cool cool cool cool cool.


Joe Patrice: Yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: Anyway, Molly got blindsided. She was kind of in league with two other kind of power-ish — I mean it’s only the second week, right? So I don’t know the power play is really fair, but she was had a little Alliance going with Jamal and Jack and they kind of thought they were running the game.


Joe Patrice: That’s never good; humorous.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, humorous. They thought that either Endora or Jason was going to get kicked out because they were kind of on the outs, they’re kind of the unpopular kids, whatever.


Joe Patrice: He is a lawyer too.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, he is one of the two personal injury attorneys so it’s like, you know, Jason. She thought one of those two would get a hug, the little crew was going to work behind the scenes except it was not behind the scenes and it was incredibly obvious and made everyone else in the tribe think that she was really a power player and it was better to get a power player out early rather than later and blindside her, which is exactly what happened in her like post — like after you get kicked out they do like a pre-float little interview with the person who’s just gotten kicked out on the show just like I am humbled by this. She had no idea it was coming her face when she’d be kind of thought that the two people that she was targeting might vote for her, but when the third vote came that was when that she knew everything was kind of all off the rails. It was kind of fun to watch.


Joe Patrice: Yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, I’m sorry you just stopped actually engaging with me. I’m not.


Joe Patrice: I did.


Kathryn Rubino: I’m not Elie so I’m not into monologues.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, well, I mean you’re doing a fantastic job of it. So –


Kathryn Rubino: I mean I prefer not to, I would prefer to have a conversation.


Joe Patrice: No, I mean look —


Kathryn Rubino: You’re obviously doing something else.


Joe Patrice: I am, yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: What is more important than the actual job we’re doing?


Joe Patrice: Researching for the show.




Kathryn Rubino: What research you are doing? What do you need to know? Are you researching about ‘Survivor’?


Joe Patrice: No, I’m looking for other legal people who were on TV, you know, that’s all.


Kathryn Rubino: I mean last year one of the big players on ‘Survivor’ finished towards the top of the pack was also a law school student Wardog, I don’t know if you watched last year’s ‘Survivor’ but he did really well, but he kind of, it kind of blew up on him at the end before the very end of the show, but he did pretty well. So, I guess, I don’t know, maybe being a lawyer is a good skill for being on ‘Survivor’.


Joe Patrice: Yeah. So what else is — well, I mean, yeah, I could see how that’s a metaphor.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah.


Joe Patrice: We’re just trying to do some sort of connection here. So like —


Kathryn Rubino: I mean, literally, you don’t have to have a connection to the law since it’s literally a law student.


Joe Patrice: Yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: Right, like that’s actually things people care about like this is like somebody in the industry was doing a thing and we can talk about it.


Joe Patrice: That’s fair, yeah. No, I hear you.


Kathryn Rubino: So what are you watching on TV this week?


Joe Patrice: Not much actually. I guess I was thinking of there’s another lawyer who’s going to be on TV tonight, even though for very different reasons, but we’re — as we’re recording this we are learning that Gordon Caplan has been sentenced.


Kathryn Rubino: He has.


Joe Patrice: Gordon Caplan, as you may know, was a former guest of this show, if you want to go back through the archives.


Kathryn Rubino: Yes, not about the reason why you —


Joe Patrice: Not for the reason he’s now infamous, but we actually interviewed him a while back about his pro bono work.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, he’s a former co-chair of Willkie Farr, has an M&A; had I guess an M&A practice.


Joe Patrice: He ultimately it turns out Varsity Blues strikes so many.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah.


Joe Patrice: He was involved in trying to get his daughter in.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, he paid money to have a testing coach, take his daughter’s exam after she finished it, take it to a backroom and correct the answers so that she would get a higher score, that was the actual thing he was convicted of or pled guilty to and he had asked for no jail time because he’s like my career is over, my life is over.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, I mean, which is an interesting move and one that, so I was a white-collar defense attorney, writing, sentencing memos is a thing that I did with some regularity and that’s a large part of it to say, look, you don’t need to punish me any further. I’ve already lost all this. I did all these things.


On the other hand, there’s a question and I think this was what the prosecutors really honed in on, which is, it’s a fine line about like, oh, I do all these nice things and kind of admitting that only people of a certain level of privilege are in a position to do those sorts of nice things.


Kathryn Rubino: Sure.


Joe Patrice: You kind of have to have a multi-million dollar M&A practice to then lose a multi-million dollar M&A practice and complain about it. You have to be in a position to do serious and important life-changing pro bono work in order to claim that you’ve done serious life-changing pro bono work.


And at what point does the system take into account that it’s putting its thumb on the scales in favor of people in those positions when we view these mitigating circumstances and respect them. The prosecutors wanted several months’ worth of jail time. They wanted eight months of jail time.


Kathryn Rubino: Which is, actually exceeds the largest sentence that’s gotten had it’s been handed down thus far.


Joe Patrice: Thus far in this case, yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: Thus far, yeah, the shortest was Felicity Huffman Desperate Housewives, she got 14 days and the longest, two other defendants got four months apiece. So, four months has kind of been the high-water mark thus far.


Joe Patrice: And Caplan himself changed at the last minute kind of started making noise that maybe two weeks like Felicity was a –


Kathryn Rubino: Appropriate.


Joe Patrice: Appropriate sanction.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah, he’s like if I have to go to jail.


Joe Patrice: Right, so what ended up happening?


Kathryn Rubino: One month.


Joe Patrice: One month.


Kathryn Rubino: One month.


Joe Patrice: It’s kind of a split the — split the baby kind of thing.


Kathryn Rubino: Still in the lower end.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, on the lower end.


Kathryn Rubino: Something on the lower end.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, I mean it’s — but it’s also one of those issues. We were talking about the levels of privilege problem. So this all happened in Connecticut where he’s sentenced and —


Kathryn Rubino: I thought it was Boston.


Joe Patrice: Well, good point, fair enough. So the case is in Boston, but I mean, he’s a Connecticut person.


Kathryn Rubino: Correct.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, right, which there’s a reason I’m saying Connecticut, so just – let them roll.


Kathryn Rubino: Sure. Well, I’m sorry anybody would think that we didn’t know what was going on the case.


Joe Patrice: That fair, that’s fair, that’s fair, it was Boston prosecutors, that’s true. Yeah, but this Connecticut resident sets up an interesting dichotomy though. I felt that he’s getting 14 days for — or no a month, he’s getting a month for taking steps to kind of fraudulently improve his daughter’s college career.




But Connecticut is the State where a woman received a five-year sentence for enrolling her child in a different School District that she didn’t actually live in. And the dichotomy there of two people attempting to get the best for their kids couldn’t really be much starker.


Kathryn Rubino: No, it could not, it could not be, yeah. No, that is a great kind of callback especially when big part of his mitigation defense is like just being a parent is so hard and I’m just trying to do the best for my kid.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, and the argument — if somebody wanted to be a troll, the argument they would raise is he may have been paying to get past qualifications to get in that were fraudulent, but ultimately he would have paid the school for the kid to go there and so that’s different than a woman who was kind of taking advantage of property taxes she wasn’t paying.


But, even if you want to go down that road, you’re kind of a horrible person, like because it also speaks to the real troubling ways in which we allow school districts to be unevenly and improperly funded across the country.


Kathryn Rubino: An absolute disgrace.


Joe Patrice: Without anybody trying at the State level if not higher up to demand that there would be some sort of — frankly, I’ve always thought, I don’t know if it would work, but I’m one of those people who thinks that the answer should be running on a — you can run on a — if you can’t get State control, the localities don’t want to give that up, you can run on a luxury tax model like baseball and just say if it’s good enough for the Yankees, it’s good enough.


And just say, you can property tax the hell out of your neighborhood and all but at a point when you’re out of step with everybody else —


Kathryn Rubino: You got to pay.


Joe Patrice: — increasingly high numbers of your money gets re-appropriated and sent other places and you can keep driving it up as high as you want just more-and-more of it has to go elsewhere. I think that might do something.


Kathryn Rubino: It’s the bare-minimum, yeah.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, it’s kind of the bare-minimum and at least it would allow people to still have the illusion of the control that they for whatever reason want, I don’t know.


Kathryn Rubino: Sure.


Joe Patrice: But, no, that was what struck me when I’ve kept seeing because a lot of the headlines today refer because amazingly the head of Willkie Farr is not a household name outside of our little universe. So a lot of the mainstream media are referring to Connecticut lawyer being sentenced and that’s what —


Kathryn Rubino: I wonder where you’re going.


Joe Patrice: And that’s why it triggered with me that like, Connecticut — I remember there being a story about Connecticut, and yeah, and that’s how I came to this discussion.


Kathryn Rubino: I like it.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, so that’s not here or there. So you have other television appearances? You thought this was going to sustain a whole episode, did you?


Kathryn Rubino: Oh, I’m sorry, yes. 10 minutes ago when I got the call I was like, well, here is some stuff.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, fair enough.


Kathryn Rubino: Here is some stuff, can we talk more about Dr. Leon, the lawyer cat?


Joe Patrice: I mean I’m pretty confident we can always talk about Dr. Leon.


Kathryn Rubino: I mean, seriously though, I mean, I can absolutely see this as a Disney movie, right?


Joe Patrice: Yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: Like, it’s like a poor homeless cat, it gets shelter from a storm, gets adopted and then they create an entire like pro bono practice for animals that are also in similar terrible situations, I mean, I’d watch that.


Joe Patrice: Yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: I also like that it doesn’t have necessarily a romantic subplot which I kind of like the new trend in Disney movies of not having romantic subplots like Moana, even like Frozen had like a minor one but like it turned out like the Hans was actually the bad guy and like it was kind of like the one in the initial action —


Joe Patrice: Spoiler alert.


Kathryn Rubino: Well, sure, yeah, fair. But like one of the lines that Elsa has to Anna, she is like you’ve met, you’ve known him a day, you can’t marry him. But I am like, yes, thank you, finally, but I kind of like the kind of newer tradition of there being like inside-out doesn’t have any kind of romantic subplots. That used to be a thing like the only kind of kid movies that there were, were like Cinderella, Snow White, very heavy on the romance which is not super-appropriate for three — five-year-olds, right?


Joe Patrice: Yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: And I kind of like the new trend and I feel like Dr. Leon would very much fit within that category of the new Disney.


Joe Patrice: I mean, you don’t know his life.


Kathryn Rubino: I suppose I don’t. I suppose I don’t. I do know he was fixed.


Joe Patrice: Dr. Leon was down there, he was a player before.


Kathryn Rubino: Oh, he was looking pretty cat, oh, so cute.


Joe Patrice: Yeah — no.


Kathryn Rubino: But, no — but he has in fact been fixed, so recovering appropriately, that’s the other thing that they —


Joe Patrice: Oh they shared.


Kathryn Rubino: They did, they did, he’s like human representatives have been updating his social media accounts on the regs. That’s when I see.




Joe Patrice: Yeah — no obviously, obviously that was a fantastic story for you, it made people’s day.


Kathryn Rubino: I mean, the best fan mail I’ve gotten a response, reader response that I’ve gotten since I’ve been at Above the Law is absolutely for that story because most the time people are just — the people who decide to write to people on the Internet are probably — are not your fan, right?


Joe Patrice: Though, you know, what you could do if you are listening to this and have questions by all means write us and we can occasionally — we’ll see if we can find a situation where we can go through the mailbag.


Kathryn Rubino: We can definitely do mailbag stuff.


Joe Patrice: And actually I’m going to go one further in particular, if you are law student, current law students you’ve gone through your early interview process and are right now weighing a few options as far as offers that’s always a good thing to send us because we’re willing to have some conversations in broad strokes about whether or not one firm versus the other might be a better fit for what you’re after, so.


Kathryn Rubino: Yeah and you can send any of those queries you might have to [email protected] and if you put Thinking Like a Lawyer and/or the offer into the subject line, we’ll be able to take a look at those and give our two cents.


Joe Patrice: No — yeah, we just named the whole thing.


Kathryn Rubino: I mean, right, that’s what — I mean I figured you were thinking of it kind of like a corollary to the decisions that you and Elie do.


Joe Patrice: It is very cool, yes. And we’ve done this before, and unfortunately, it’s possible because of the way time lags operate that we won’t be able to answer your question before you have to make the offer, but —


Kathryn Rubino: Yes, you do not put off actually making a decision.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, but we will try to and your situation could very well be informative for future folks who need to go through it, so you would be doing a service.


Kathryn Rubino: Absolutely.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, well, all right.


Kathryn Rubino: It’s raining.


Joe Patrice: It is.


Kathryn Rubino: I really want to go out there.


Joe Patrice: Yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: But I don’t think I have much more to say.


Joe Patrice: No, you don’t. So with all of that said, we will wrap things up a little early.


Kathryn Rubino: See you next week.


Joe Patrice: Well, I mean, Elie might be back next week.


Kathryn Rubino: LOL. LOL.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, so with that said, thanks for listening to the show. You should be subscribed to it.


Kathryn Rubino: The best part is that Elie is not going to listen to this podcast and he is not even going to know. I mean —


Joe Patrice: Yeah, he’ll have no idea, yeah.


Kathryn Rubino: That’s kind of amazing. It’s like behind the scenes like super-shady.


Joe Patrice: Yeah, anyway, you should be listening to this, you should be giving it reviews and stars and saying nice things, it helps with the algorithm. You should listen to Kathryn’s podcast, The Jabot, you should be reading Above the Law. Follow us on social media, I’m @JosephPatrice, she’s @Kathryn1 both on Twitter.


You should listen to the offerings of the Legal Talk Network, there are a bevy of podcasts there on all sorts of different — different niche interests within the legal field and so you should check some of those out on the network.


And with all that said, I think we’re done, and yeah, maybe one of us will end up on TV set. I don’t know.


Kathryn Rubino: Bye.




Outro: If you would like more information about what you heard today, please visit You can also find us at,, 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: October 8, 2019
Podcast: Thinking Like a Lawyer - Above the Law
Category: Legal Entertainment
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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