OK Gang, I read this book as a bright eyed soon to be law student prior to my first year of law school. Firstly, I have little credence in one who "claims" to have "aced" the LSAT. Secondly, although Turow seems to write about a hellish first year, I wish to point out, "How bad can it be, if he had time to have a wife, go to law school full time, AND write a book?" It simply is not a realistic view of what life as a first year law student at a top law school is like. My own experiences included classmates committing suicide for not being ranked #1 in their class for the first time in their lives. It also included classmates who quit the very first time they got humiliated by a law professor during a lecture. My own experience my first year was of the fear of falling behind, and playing catch-up for a semester. I was in the library by 8 AM, class at 9AM, and went home about 11PM, for the full 3 years, often with hundreds of pages to read an analyze nightly. How someone managed to write a book amidst all that madness is clearly beyond me. The only rationale I could come up with is that Harvard does not give grades in its classes; there is no student competition - your grade is either "Pass" or "Not Pass". I'd suggest doing some research on what it is to have to compete with fellow students for grades, and look at law schools where your notebook computer is stolen for the mere sin of getting up to go to the bathroom.
My interest in reading this was sparked by how much I enjoy Turow's novels and by how much I respect his pro bono work on behalf of those wrongfully imprisoned. Had I not read his other works or known about his social philosophy, I probably would not have appreciated this autobiography quite as much a I did.
Melanie T. (mjtriplett) reviewed One L : The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School on
Helpful Score: 2
Turow gives an amusing and true-to-life account of his life as a 1L at Harvard in the 70s. Although law school has since changed somewhat, many of the aspects discussed are still easily related to by current and incoming students.
If I were going to law school I would certainly want to read this book. It was a very interesting read. I read it for book club but probably wouldn't have even finished it were it not that I was my turn as the group leader reviewer. I found it a bit tedious. It was definitely not light reading. Gave me something to think about ~~~ wishing that the curriculum of lawyer education would include a course on ethics and integrity. Granted not all lawyers are bad but ... sometimes I think their motives to become lawyers could be called to question.
I was drawn to this book out of a morbid sense of curiosity after completing two years of graduate school myself (though in social work, not law). I wanted to know if a student in a different program, some thirty-plus years earlier would have a similar experience. I was not disappointed. Turow describes how he was drawn to law school after spending some time being an English lecturer, and how some of his classmates and friends came from similar backgrounds and academic levels. He approaches the first year of law school with no small amount of trepidation and quickly becomes overwhelmed with readings in a language he is not acquainted with. He describes the feeling of "becoming unmoored" encountered by not only himself but most of his classmates as they wade into deeper waters of academia while losing touch with the world outside of the law school. Turow sufficiently described his experiences in his first year of law school that I was able to relate to his misery and anxieties. In short, the experiences of law students thirty some years ago at an ivy league institution isn't all that dissimilar from graduate students today.
This book is usually included on the reading list for beginning law students. It's definitely worth a read to see what some students at extremely competitive schools do to themselves and each other. Although many students find the experience of law school to be more supportive and less traumatic than Turow's, his descriptions of the coursework (including the blistering reading requirements), the socratic and exam methods, and school organization are very accurate, even 30 years later.
Scott Turow's observations on his first year at Harvard Law School are as readable and compelling as his novels, a good read, a quick read, a comfort read akin to a grilled cheese sandwich and chocolate milk.
Very much like my first year of law school (mine was an emotional disaster), possibly my school was not as overtly competitive as Harvard, but still considered "top tier", because, Josephine, I did "ace" my LSAT, the worst thing I ever did, I'm still trying to recover.
An English instructor decides to attend Harvard Law and documents his first, difficult year at the end of the Carter Administration. Even then there were too many attorneys being trained, but Harvard is among the handful of prestigious law schools that promise to attract firms interested firms seeking newly minted lawyers. Mr. Turow finds his fellow students to have widely varied backgrounds and also to be very outgoing people.
I read only twenty pages or so on the bus and the dogeared page of a previous owner of the book was maybe page 28.