Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Anonymous Lawyer

Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman

It's just about that time of year when we begin thinking about what we are going to be giving our friends and loved ones this holiday season. Have any lawyers on your list? I know just what to get them. This book.

A satire of the legal profession, the novel consists entirely of blog posts and email messages. It is very hard to pull off a novel in this form, but Blachman somehow makes it work. He even manages to give the story a good flow.

The novel focuses exclusively on a month and a half in the life of its protagonist, Anonymous Lawyer, a hiring partner at a Los Angeles-based international law firm. He is a completely unsympathetic character. He's a sexist, weightist, workaholic, who abuses his underlings. He's also exceedingly arrogant. In short, he's a complete jerk. Here's a sample from one of Anonymous Lawyer's early posts:
"Besides The New Chairman's quick exit, the party went off without a hitch--except for an early mishap with an associate during the cocktail hour. The Frumpy Litigator is allergic to shellfish, but one of the partners didn't know and offered her a bite of his lobster cake. Like any good associate, she knows the rules. When a partner tells you to do something, you do it, no matter what. Anaphylatic shock be damned. She politely took a bite, and as soon as she had a chance, turned and spit it into her napkin. But by then it was too late. She pulled me aside and said she thought she might need to go to the hospital. Of course I let her leave, despite the importance of the party. She handled the whole situation very discreetly. I'll be sure to send her an e-card on Monday wishing her a speedy recovery" (21-22).
What is truly amazing about the book is that by the end of it we don't hate Anonymous Lawyer nearly as much as we should. I don't know how Blachman does it.

Anonymous Lawyer is an based on Blachman's hugely successful blog, subtitled "stories from the trenches, by a fictional hiring partner at a large law firm in a major city." Blachman isn't a hiring partner. Actually, he's about my age, a recent law school graduate. He started the blog on a whim and it took off from there.
There's actually an interesting page on his website (AnonymousLawFirm.com) about translating the blog to a book.

After reading Anonymous Lawyer, I can't help but wonder if we'll see more from Blachman. I know he's keeping up with the blog, but I can't imagine that there'll be a second AL novel (but, hey, what do I know!). I'm interested to see whether Blachman can parlay this blog-writing into something bigger and better in the future.

As a side note, one thing that I found particularly amusing in the book is Anonymous Lawyer's penchant for revisionist history. The longer he publishes the blog, the less concerned he is about the authenticity of what he writes in his entries. Read the book and you'll see what I mean.

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