Book Review: Anonymous Lawyer

BY ANNA BROOK

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It is interview season again and law students all over the country are lining up for summer positions at large corporate firms. Recent HLS grad Jeremy Blachman’s Anonymous Lawyer provides a hilarious glimpse into the mind of a hiring partner at one of these firms. The novel, based on Blachman’s popular blog of the same title, is a must-read for any current or future lawyer.

There are plenty of opportunities to hear overworked associates moan about their jobs, but rarely does one get to see things from a partner’s perspective. Blachman’s book provides just that vantage point. If, as a summer associate, you ever had the sneaking suspicion that it was not absolutely vital to circle the letter ‘a’ every time it appeared in a document by eight the next morning, you were probably right. The only reason you had to do it, according to Anonymous Lawyer, is that he wanted you to do it.

Anonymous Lawyer is an eighteen year veteran of the firm (also anonymous), well on his way to becoming the next Chairman – the guy with the biggest office and all the perks. The only thing in his way is The Jerk, his rival for everything from face time with the current Chairman to breakfast bagels.

One fine day with encouragement from Anonymous Niece, Anonymous Lawyer joins the blogging community. The blog becomes his way to vent to the world. He writes about his frustration with associates who think they have a right to take bathroom breaks, candy theft from his secretary’s desk, and the need to hide certain partners from the incoming class of summer associates if there is to be any hope that they will sign away their souls and come to the firm after graduation.

Written in the form of blog posts and e-mails, Anonymous Lawyer is a quick, enjoyable read punctuated by frequent laugh-out-loud moments. Those who’ve spent time at a large law firm will be able to identify the characters Anonymous Lawyer describes: The Bombshell who knows how to use her looks to get what she wants, the Frumpy Litigator, and the summer associate known as The Suck-Up. One can only hope that Anonymous Lawyer exaggerates the horrors of spending all night organizing a three-foot stack of documents that are on their way to the shredder.

Despite kicking paralegals as he walks down the hall, Anonymous Lawyer shows a human side in some of his blog entries. He tries to bond with Anonymous Son and even befriends one of the summer associates. It doesn’t hurt that the associate goes to Yale.

The novel is more interesting for its (hopefully exaggerated) glances into law firm life though discrete events than for its overall plot. The action picks up toward the end of the book when someone at the firm figures out Anonymous Lawyer’s identity and threatens to out him to the partnership. Several tense emails later, the story takes an unexpected turn and ends on a bittersweet note that brings out more of the human in the dedicated lawyer.

After reading Anonymous Lawyer, law school students will worry about what they have signed up for, associates will be amused by the accuracy of it all (assuming, of course, that they have time to read a book at all), and partners will perhaps realize that it wouldn’t hurt them to be nicer to their underlings.

Rating: ***1/2

Anna Brook has already decided to work at a firm, too late to back out now. For more anonymity and lawyerhood, go to http://anonymouslawyer.blogspot.com.

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