(Reviewed by Tony Ross JAN 12, 2007)
"I can barely do anything this morning knowing there’s a living creature in the office next to mine. Usually it’s just the corporate securities partner, and he hasn’t moved a muscle since the Carter administration. But today he brought his dog into the office. Ridiculous. As if there aren’t enough animals here already. We had fish once. Piranhas. We overfed them. We threw The Fat Guy’s lunch in the tank one day because he showed up to a meeting fifteen minutes late. The fish devoured it -- turkey sandwich, brownie, forty-eight-ounce Coke -- and then exploded. It made the point. No one shows up late to my meetings anymore.
But the dog arrived this morning and immediately everyone was in the hallway instead of where they belong, staring into their computer screens. Associates were getting up, out of their chairs, to go chase the dog, pet the dog, talk to the dog. Someone gave the dog a piece of his muffin from the attorney lounge. The muffins aren’t for dogs. We don’t even let the paralegals have the muffins."
This particular iteration of a blog-turned-novel takes the form of a blog, interspersed with emails to and from the blogger. Born from a popular satirical blog of the same name, the book is pretty much a one-joke affair, and that one joke is hammered home over and over and over and over, losing a good deal of its impact along the way. Basically, the premise is that the partner in charge of hiring at a prestigious law firm decides to start an anonymous blog where he rants about his day to day work. The punchline is that the titular author is a nasty arrogant expletive who uses the candid anonymity of the blog to breezily dump all over his coworkers, firm, and entire profession. If you liked Alec Baldwin's scene in the film "Glengarry Glen Ross," this is somewhat along the same lines, although the writing isn't as sharp and it goes on for far too long and thus can't help but get repetitive.
The thin plot concerns the blogger's machinations to position himself to become the firm's next chairman, which also means constant jockeying with his rival "The Jerk" -- all of which plays out rather predictably. The main source of tension is the question of whether or not someone at his firm will recognize the blog and blow the whistle. Meanwhile, the blogger also maintains a running email dialogue with his niece, who's graduating Stanford and heading to Yale Law School. Although this occupies the position of a subplot, it never really goes anywhere meaningful and doesn't seem to serve much purpose other than softening the blogger character. Other running topics include the need to maximize billable hours, the ineptitude of pretty much everyone, and why hierarchy is so important at corporate law firms. The cast of characters include: The Suck-Up, The Musician, Tax Guy, The One Who Dresses Like A Slut, The One Who's Never Getting Married, The One Who Missed Her Kid's Funeral, The Bombshell, Foreign Guy, Black Guy, Harvard Guy, Real Estate Guy, Lives With His Mom, and more.
As a story it's paper-thin. As a book, it's total fluff and takes only a few hours to read. As satire of corporate law it's a fairly sophomoric compilation of exaggerations, but as the author graduated from Harvard Law School, it has enough of a veneer of reality to it to make it entertaining enough. It will probably go on to be a classic for the law school crowd.
- Amazon readers rating: from 37 reviews
Read an excerpt from Anonymous Lawyer at Written Voices
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Anonymous Lawyer (July 2006)
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- Official blog for the Anonymous Lawyer
- Anonymous Lawfirm
- Official blog for Jeremy Blachman
- A blog comment on behind the scens of Anonymous Lawyer
- Ernie the Attorney review of Anonymous Lawyer
- USA Today article on Anonymous Lawyer
- BlogCritics review of Anonymous Lawyer
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About the Author:
Jeremy Blachman graduated from Harvard Law School in 2005. He was willingly outed as the author of the Anonymous Lawyer blog by the New York Times in December 2004. His only experience at a law firm was in a Manhattan office where here had a summer internship, which he enjoyed. The novel uses only about 10% of the material from his blog.
Jeremy hopes to make it as writer instead of a lawer.