Best of 2006: The Eve of Destruction
Posted on January 26, 2006.
Big buzz for the new book by my law school classmate and ideological opposite, Professor Doug Litowitz:
Advance praise for The Destruction of Young Lawyers:
“If you are interested in the law, you better read this book. It tells the scorching truth about law schools and the so-called profession better and more honestly than any book I know.”
renowned trial lawyer and founder of Trial Lawyer’s College
“Easily the best of the lawyer books, The Destruction of Young Lawyers is tightly reasoned, clearly and lucidly written, full of examples and anecdotes, and well-paced.”
Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh
“This engaging and subtle series of essays summarizes and expands our understanding of the sources of stress and distress in the lives of today’s lawyers.”
Professor of Constitutional Law, Georgetown University
Perhaps he’s overstated it, though probably not as much as those interviewed in this New York Law Journal article (subscription required) think he did, but as I said in an email to Doug: “I haven’t read your book but appreciate the buzz it’s generated. I’m not unhappy that I went to law school but you’re right that at least a certain segment of people — mostly those with brains, imagination or creativity (horror if it’s more than one of those) — are destroyed at least partly by the big firm experience.”
Because of the circles I travel in, I get a lot of questions from people considering law school, perhaps more than some other lawyers. I don’t universally tell them not to do it, but, as I did in my own 1994 book (out of print now, I think), the Princeton Review Pre-Law Companion, I do try to get them to look at the choice realistically, which neither TV law shows nor law school catalogs help them do.
In fact I wrote the Pre-Law Companion while attempting to make a living outside the legal profession because I was so unhappy within it. I then spent a very long time trying to write a sort of less-than-a-novel, slice-of-life narrative book about my experience as a law school student and then junior associate at Kaye, Scholer — based on this, pseudonymous article I had written in Student Lawyer magazine a few years earlier. I couldn’t sell it (oh, all right — here’s the outline, plus the sample chapters! Believe me, at this point nothing would get me to write this book, so I may as well upload it!). After squandering a year on it (while working at various potboiler freelance writing jobs) I had to return to the trenches, where I did find a sort of professional happiness, eventually. Sort of.
But the story needs to be told, and perhaps Doug Litowitz is applying that bit of shock therapy that the pre-law advisors out there need to be aware of before they blithely encourage everyone who simply does not know what to do with himself after college to jump into the maw of “the Law.” There are a lot of hard questions a person should ask himself before making that commitment, and he’s asking — and to some extent, answering — them.
UPDATE: This might help, by the way.