Notes on Anonymous Lawyer
I recently got through listening to Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman. It was a hilarious chronological collection of blog posts and emails by a (hopefully) fictional corporate attorney. I read it at the recommendation of some friends who swore by its accuracy, which certainly makes me quite worried about the state of the world. I really hope they're wrong.
What I liked about the story was just how insanely true to character the entire personal account is. It was like an actor who never got out of character.
The blog posts and emails paint the picture of a burned-out, highly elitist, highly racist, highly sexist, and highly egotistical hiring partner at a corporate law firm. His only goal in life is to become chairman of his law firm and gain power over others and prestige. In the story, he goes to all ends to do this, not stopping at lying, cheating, insulting, plotting a coup, or punishing others for anything and everything. The character's voice comes out so true in such ridiculous moments that it's a testament to the author's talents as a writer and imagination (I really hope it's all fiction). The story's strong voice continues even to the fake "anonymous" law firm website they set up for the book. I love the attention to detail and follow-through on the story. At certain moments it seems like the author is beating a dead horse, but mostly, it's funny (and disturbing).
In Russian, there is a saying that every joke has a sliver of truth. Therefore, I'm sure that while the story is exaggerated, there must be some semblance of truth in the character portrayed and the vividness of the power struggle. I wonder how much of this is generational. Will the new generation of attorneys (who grew up with social networking, care for world peace, volunteerism, organic food, importance of exercise, life balance, etc.) be different? Will there be a new, more high-tech, forward-thinking, human-friendly model for law firms in the near future? I certainly hope so.
Here are the perils and disturbing things I noted from this book:
9/15/2011 10:49:58 am
Love your blog. First-time commenter, long-time reader. To your last point, I think the structure makes people that way... I don't think only evil people want to be lawyers, but I think the ridiculous (and unfortunately entrenched) system makes law students this way... and it continues to reward them for this behavior as lawyers.
9/15/2011 01:34:12 pm
Thanks, Josh. That's a good point; why is it hard to rebel against the structure? What can people do who want to change it? Just go off on their own and do what they think is right? Or is organizational change from within possible?
9/17/2011 07:13:56 am
I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. I have a lot of the same feelings that you express in the post-- to whatever extent my book reflects elements of actual life at a firm, I think it's a shame.
9/17/2011 09:43:19 am
Jeremy, it's awesome to hear your reaction and further details. Really appreciate it! Now things make a lot more sense.
9/26/2012 09:31:50 pm
I agree with each and every conclusions made on this topic. It is really very informative. Thanks for sharing.
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