Thursday, April 09, 2009


What lawyers talk about when they talk about law. Something I'm reading at the moment. Joseph is no Mamet but it's worth a look.

Review from Amazon:

Joseph, a poet and law professor at St. John's University in New York, sat down (mostly at meals) with several lawyers of his acquaintance and distilled their conversations into stories that read like radio mini-plays. Indeed, the frank, high-pitched language verges on Mamet. "Reasonable doubt? They go fucking bananas!" declares a weary criminal lawyer of the law-fascinated juries he encounters. A corporate lawyer offers some grim truth: "What we do is determined by who pays us." A loquacious judge, after damning lawyers as liars, finally tells her interviewer of a mind-boggling attempted-murder case involving a husband and wife that resonates with painful clarity. A torts lawyer explicates the world of medical malpractice, where transactional costs trump other considerations: "The public believes in fairness. Well, what's fair for me isn't fair for you." A black lawyer tells a hilarious story about a black law partner who, exasperated by a condescending white client, finally "[g]oes and violates Negro Rule Number One," i.e., never act crazy: act smart. The noirish world that Joseph creates should serve as a tart reminder to practicing lawyers and as a cautionary tale for the aspiring; others may wish for stories with a larger dose of narrative and epiphany.

My favorite bit so far is on page 49:

These people are serious. This client -- Cal Tech. Phi Beta Kappa. He's 33 years old and he's already made two -- going on his third -- separate fortunes in computers. He does not care for lawyers. ... He'll point at a lawyer and say, "Look how twisted, how soft, how false his face is."


Ian Smith said...

One thing your book may not discuss is the overabundance of lawyers in the US and the relatively low income of most American lawyers vs British, French, or Japanese lawyers.

A JD is not a status symbol in America anymore unless it is from Yale, Harvard, Columbia, etc.

Law school is more often than not where people who've wasted their time on useless subjects as undergrads try to make good.

Miami Criminal Lawyer said...

It's handy for spotting sock puppets - one person pretending to be several.

It is also possible to ban IP addresses, which will do away with peopel on static IPS, or ranges which can be used to ban entire isps, companies, universities or countries.

Its not so useful if all you want to do is go around and break someones legs, unless you have expensive lawyers '-)

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