Letters to a Young Lawyer.Alan Dershowitz Alan Morton Dershowitz (born September 1, 1938) is an American lawyer and criminal law professor known for his extensive published works, career as an attorney in several high-profile law cases, and commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Basic Books www.basicbooks.com 208 pp., $22
Although his career is far from typical, he's a role model: Many lawyers want to be Alan Dershowitz.
So, to guide those setting out to build their careers, Dershowitz has compiled some of the highlights--and lowlights--of his career into a 200-page book "to encourage others to learn from my successes and failures."
That's an admirable goal, but few if any new lawyers will find themselves facing some of the situations Dershowitz has encountered. He acknowledges that, but tries to sift out to search out with care, as if by sifting.
See also: Sift some common issues facing lawyers today: resolving ethical dilemmas, managing work schedules, and handling clients.
The book is part of Basic Books' The Art of Mentoring series, which, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the publisher, "invites leaders of the arts, vocations, professions, obsessions, and missions to contribute a text meant to shape the future of their disciplines and to inspire the careers of the next generation and generations after that."
Regardless of these goals, this is just another book by Alan Dershowitz. It rambles in and out of discussions about ethics with little concrete advice about how young lawyers should cope with the ethical dilemmas they will face on a regular basis. Instead of guiding, he strives to impress. You get a sense that when he risks losing his audience, he drops the name of another famous client.
Although his aim is laudable laud·a·ble
Healthy; favorable. , Dershowitz provides little for typical young lawyers to apply to their own lives. Most are not graduates of Harvard Law School Harvard Law School (colloquially, Harvard Law or HLS) is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard Law is considered one of the most prestigious law schools in the United States. . Most will not have a choice between making big bucks at a big firm or pursuing a public service career. Most will not whine about how tough it is to live on $125,000 a year. Many will be lucky even to find jobs.
Letters to a Young Lawyer is a trip through The World According to Dershowitz, a world in which criminal defense lawyers are heroes, corporate lawyers are evil cowards, and the justice system is, for the most part, crooked. The author doesn't bog down bog down
[bogging, bogged] to impede physically or mentally
Verb 1. bog down - get stuck while doing something; "She bogged down many times while she wrote her dissertation"
bog his book with many actual cases, or even fictional ones, to support this view. He writes in cliches, hardly encouraging young lawyers to examine the shades of Noun 1. shades of - something that reminds you of someone or something; "aren't there shades of 1948 here?"
reminder - an experience that causes you to remember something gray in his black-and-white world. There is too much bravado and too little brevity. Dershowitz writes like a lawyer who's afraid to stop talking in court.
But he does at least try to instill in·still
To pour in drop by drop.
instil·lation n. a sense of ethics and righteous indignation Righteous indignation is an emotion one feels when one becomes angry over perceived mistreatment, insult, or malice.
In some Christian doctrines, righteous indignation is considered the only form of anger which is not sinful. over corruption. Although he takes a slap at ATLA ATLA Association of Trial Lawyers of America
ATLA American Theological Library Association
ATLA American Trial Lawyers Association
ATLA Air Transport Licensing Authority (Hong Kong)
ATLA Avatar: The Last Airbender near the end of the book, Dershowitz also praises plaintiff lawyers, and criticizes tort "reform" advocates:
Let's hear 2 1/2 cheers for ambulance chasers ... and other assorted legal troublemakers. They do a lot more good for justice, equality, and safety--for society in general--than many of their more respected brothers and sisters at the bar, who quietly work long and well-compensated hours in the pro malo publico defense of negligent (sometimes quite deliberate) tortfeasors, warranty breachers, environmental polluters, and other assorted do-badders.
Dershowitz's overall message is a good one. He advises young lawyers to vow, from the start of their careers, to keep their idealism and maintain their ethical footing despite rough terrain.
Although Letters to a Young Lawyer has its flaws, it may also remind seasoned lawyers why they wanted to work in the justice system. It might also remind trial lawyers why, financial rewards aside, they continue to represent plaintiffs. If the book accomplishes that, it can't be all bad.
Carolyn Magnuson is an associate editor of TRIAL.