One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School

One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School Newsweek Calls Him An Extraordinarily Canny And Empathetic Observer In Bestseller After Bestseller, Turow Uses His Background As A Lawyer To Create Suspense Fiction So Authentic It Reads With The Hammering Impact Of Fact But Before He Became A Worldwide Sensation, Scott Turow Wrote A Book That Is Entirely True, The Account Of His Own Searing Indoctrination Into The Field Of Law Called The First Year Of Law School Is An Intellectual And Emotional Ordeal So Grueling That It Ensures Only The Fittest Survive Now Scott Turow Takes You Inside The Oldest And Most Prestigious Law School In The Country When He Becomes A One L, As Entering Students Are Known At Harvard Law School In A Book That Became A National Bestseller, A Law School Primer, And A Classic Autobiography, He Brings To Life The Fascinating, Shocking Reality Of That First Year Provocative And Riveting, One L Reveals The Experience Directly From The Combat Zone The Humiliations, Triumphs, Hazings, Betrayals, And Challenges That Will Make Him A Lawyer And Forever Change Turow S Mind, Test His Principles, And Expose His Heart

Scott Turow is the author of ten bestselling works of fiction, including IDENTICAL, INNOCENT, PRESUMED INNOCENT, and THE BURDEN OF PROOF, and two nonfiction books, including ONE L, about his experience as a law student His books have been translated into than forty languages, sold than thirty million copies worldwide, and have been adapted into movies and television projects He has fre

[PDF / Epub] ☀ One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School By Scott Turow –
  • Paperback
  • 288 pages
  • One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School
  • Scott Turow
  • English
  • 24 May 2019
  • 9780446673785

10 thoughts on “One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School

  1. says:

    This was a fascinating look at what law school is really like Sure, I ve seen the movies Legally Blonde , The Paper Chase and even Soul Man, but this wasn t a goofy Hollywood movie Scott Turow actually lived it.Turow started at Harvard Law School in September 1975 He took good notes and kept a journal of his experiences as a law student, which he later turned into this insightful memoir I really enjoyed the stories of his professors, his classes, his fellow students, and how much reading and studying was involved I can understand why this book is still so widely read by law students several decades later it s well written and straightforward about the challenges and pressures facing law students While I don t plan on going to law school, I do enjoy books about academia, and I m glad I read this I highly recommend One L to anyone interested in the law school experience.

  2. says:

    bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitchPlease This was tiresome This guy seemed to think going to Harvard Law School was going to be like playing musical chairs, where everyone got a chair I mean, not only is it law school, but it s Harvard And he s shocked that everyone is overly competitive and a little bit whacked out because of it Even though the class load was rough, he was still able to manage to get 6 hours of sleep most nights, and only pulled one all nighter I know, Amy I died a little inside when I read that too.

  3. says:

    Turow paints a largely accurate picture of the life of a first year student at a top American law school He describes his gifted, high achieving, and insufferably competitive peers and professors to a T Those who have survived the ordeal will immediately recall their own struggles to comprehend the first few cases they read and briefed, the hours, the jargon, and generally navigating unknown waters Should I buy a hornbook or stick with the thousands of pages of assigned casebook reading Is it useful to join a study group What s the Law Review etc The atmosphere, saturated with fear of failure read mediocrity , will resonate with any who have competed at a high level or longed for excellence.The book is about people searching to find relevance Here, the search takes place in the increasingly silly and mundane legal world Many characters and some of Turow s points of emphasis strike me as self indulgent and annoyingly self satisfactory The problem is the use of proxies for success as improper substitutes for the real thing For example, high grades and Law Review participation are certainly impressive academic achievements But the real achievements in law occur outside the classroom They involve getting the innocent person acquitted and the guilty convicted, or establishing the most economically efficient legal doctrine to thereby enhance everyone s standard of living Turow and his peers were thrilled to be admitted to Harvard because it is Harvard and it is exclusive They desired high grades and invitation to Law Review because these were distinctions between themselves and others They were BETTER than those who were not admitted to Harvard, who did not have high grades, and who were not on the Law Review The motivating factor, by all appearances, is mere egotism, not a desire to do justice There s no other way to explain the crippling fear of poor grades or mediocrity, as opposed to slight disappointment.After all, there are no grand moral truths to defend in tax, secured transactions, or civil procedure No flesh and blood human beings or clients are affected by a student s exam or Law Review submission Instead, success in such courses goes to those most able to survive a war of attrition, who continue to read and plug away at the concepts when wiser souls would have long recognized the absurdity of the endeavor Grade distributions from the first year classes of property, contracts, torts, civil procedure, and criminal law are useful to firms in sorting out the talented from the less so in the narrow skill of writing an exam It is useful in selecting Law Review members and clerkships, which are just extensions of the game, hurdles to jump through, feathers to scoop up in backbreaking fashion, ends in themselves These are the heights to which many aspire This is the source of much misery and misdirected energy This is so unnecessary.In the end, the desire to be recognized, to stand out, to feel pleased with oneself and have one s efforts rewarded is completely understandable Turow captures this idea perfectly It s tragic that such feelings of security and success and personal worth stem from mastery of the Uniform Commercial Code But perhaps this is no worse than the same feelings stemming from mastery of Donkey Kong see the documentary King of Kong , the triple Salchow, or the four seam fastball.The accurate 1 Law school is competitive To be accepted into a top law school, one must have stellar academic credentials, which are basically defined by an LSAT score and undergraduate GPA Success in both areas requires a combination of intelligence and diligence Thus, even prior to the first day of class, a selection bias operates to create a group of competitive assholes More than one of these people will have read hornbooks over the summer in preparation for the upcoming semester All will have enjoyed academic success for the majority of their lives And almost all will, to a greater or lesser degree, define their self worth through academic achievement When grades are distributed on a strict curve, as they are in many law schools, there will necessarily be only a limited number of people at the top This requires most of the class, formerly sure of themselves and proud of their abilities, to literally reevaluate their lives and their worth as they find themselves at the bottom or middle of the class for the first time.2 The secret desire to do well and fear of failure when surrounded by such talented and motivated individuals is very real People discover what they are made of in law school, and it can be scary Turow captures this sentiment beautifully when describing a conversation he had with his peers about the Law Review Some stated flatly they wanted to make it because of the honor Turow initially said he did not want it and wouldn t participate in the 40 50 hours per week required to complete cite checking the arduous and thankless task of verifying the accuracy of sources supporting propositions in published academic pieces But when pressed, he admitted that he actually did want it and says, I felt I d done something precarious, something quite dangerous, the minute the words were out of my mouth The danger was in allowing himself to acknowledge that he cared about something, that he had set a goal, even if subconsciously, that he probably would not be able to fulfill, and failing to fulfill that goal would be emotionally painful.3 Economics is inextricably linked to the law Legal doctrines, decisions, and arguments frequently draw on concepts from economics, and students who are well versed in economics likely have an advantage in law school Civil procedure s rules, cost benefit analysis in administrative law and elsewhere, efficient breaches in contracts, the concept of negligence in torts, the Coase theorem in property, and many other areas of economics reveal themselves throughout nearly every law school course.4 Grading in law school is imperfect Most courses have just one final exam at the end of the term Thus, a single exam between 3 and 8 hours determines one s grade for the course There is insufficient time to deeply wrangle with the issues, and the process is like regurgitation than analysis Many believe the single exam system exists to minimize the amount of effort required by professors to determine grades Others complain that their true ability, whatever that means, is not reflected in so short a time Still others swear that preparation has no relation to grades Despite these drawbacks, it s not at all clear there is a better alternative As is frequently the case in life, it is easy to point out a problem and much difficult to find a solution However imperfect the single exam evaluation is, and setting aside that there is a great deal of variation between the abilities of students with similar grades, grades do serve a useful function by distinguishing Effort and knowledge are rewarded, and there is a large difference between an A exam and a mediocre one.5 Grades are hugely important With 40,000 or attorneys graduated every year in the United States, law firms, judges, and government agencies simply must use some method to whittle down applicants for associate positions Grades are an easy way to do just that Moreover, the grades do reveal something, whether it s effort, intelligence, or even a bit of luck.6 The varying teaching styles described by Turow are spot on The Socratic method, whereby professors cold call students or ask questions and delve into the responses to reveal underlying concepts and encourage critical thinking, is a staple of the first year legal curriculum Some professors are better at it than others Some, like Turow s Torts professor, will literally never make an affirmative statement, preferring instead to leave questions open Others may use classes as their own ego stroking sessions, never failing to achieve what seems to mirror sexual gratification at the thought that they know than first year students Occasionally, however, students are blessed with that rare professor who is both talented and comfortable in his own skin He asks difficult and important questions to provoke new thoughts or refine arguments He answers questions when needed and builds on established ground, climbing slowly to exciting new heights and intellectual playgrounds, inviting students to join him in the sandbox above.7 The first year is exhausting Reading cases and studying the law is like learning a second language, as Turow mentions The concepts themselves are rarely difficult Instead, the difficulty lies in the volume of material to be sifted and learning how to extract the pertinent from the extraneous The difficulty lies in overcoming jargon and the barriers erected by annoying, petty people who intentionally obscure their ideas in unnecessarily complex language or sentence structure in order to give the illusion of brilliance The worst offenders Professors and judges, the very people from whom new students are forced to learn Reading and understanding small numbers of pages requires large numbers of hours in the beginning because of the novelty of the endeavor It is not an exaggeration that most of one s waking life is devoted to the study of the law during that first semester, but this is largely due to his own inefficiency Not yet knowing what is important, dozens of hours are wasted on material that won t be covered on the final exam.8 Law school is not about education It is about playing a game Turow refreshingly acknowledges that he chose his elective in the Spring based on his estimated time required for daily preparation and difficulty of the material For most students, concerns like interesting material or actually learning something useful are a distant second to finding the path of least resistance Students don t take the renowned prosecutor or scholar if he is a notoriously difficult grader they d much rather the unknown teacher who will go easier on them.The absurd 1 The insecurity masked as arrogance described by Turow is either unbearable or pitifully comedic depending on one s disposition Those with truly brilliant minds, nimble, open to subtle reasoning and argumentation, have no need to assert it to others People who are in constant competition or have an insatiable need to assert their superiority would not seem like fun chaps with whom to spend an evening, no matter how accomplished they may be Their haughty self righteousness the author s own faults in this area seeped through than once bothered the hell out of me Here s an example, which generates feelings of embarrassment for me on behalf of the author and the students who thought this was a story worth repeating In regard to Perini, a Contracts professor, a student advisor, Peter, said, He s a great teacherbut not an easy one When I was a 1L, the first person he called on was a national champion debater and Perini had him on his back in forty seconds God The overwhelming nerdiness of that sentence and the underlying sentiment makes me want to harm myself A professor having knowledge of a subject than a student on his first day of class is no awe inspiring than Michael Jordan dunking on a toddler.2 Karen Sondergard, one of the author s section mates, cried at least daily, upping that count to 4 or 5 times a day during exam period At some point, it s like, dude, get your shit together.3 The desire for extended adolescence and avoiding responsibility belies many arguments about the nobility of law school In discussing why he went to law school, a man in Turow s study group named Terry said, I just tell myself, Hey, you didn t wanna be a grown up You re not ready yet You wanna stay lose This seems to be the thinking of an alarmingly high number of law students.4 Complaints about professors requiring students to justify their positions during cold calls are childish and surprisingly anti intellectual coming from Harvard Law students Turow says that several classmates fumed because they were forced to substitute dry reason for emotion, and weren t allowed to make arguments based on their feelings or compassion Just a moment s thought reveals the absurdity of succumbing to feelings Suppose Gina, one of Turow s section mates, strongly feels that capital punishment is wrong I could merely respond that I equally strongly feel that capital punishment is a moral imperative for certain crimes How then to decide between the positions Feelings are immeasurable, unquantifiable, subjective As Turow allows, Many of the people with these complaints were straight out of college and came of age in the 60s If you want to bathe in emotion, that s fine, but don t conflate what you re doing with reason or intelligence, which are distinct concepts that law school is right to emphasize.5 Some students literally audibly hissed at comments they didn t like during class Ordinarily, according to Turow, hissing had been reserved for fellow students, usually when the speaker s remarks were politically conservative Most of the hissers seemed to be leftwing These brilliant minds, nimble, open to subtle reasoning and argumentation hissed at those with whom they disagreed in an attempt, I guess, to publicly shame dissenters into groupthink I was astonished to read that this activity, so juvenile that I would be embarrassed to engage in it while attending grade school, was a rather routine practice at HLS.6 Complaints against the Socratic Method are overblown and over hyped to the point of being tired There were too many anecdotes that Professor J did X, Y, and Z to unprepared student A Of course, X, Y, and Z never actually happen to any known student, it was always a couple of years prior Preparing for class and giving a good faith effort are perfect defenses to any dramatic attacks from a professor wielding the Socratic Method as the humiliation weapon of choice Nonetheless, some of these brilliant minds, nimble, open to subtle reasoning and argumentation complained that it was unfair and intimidating Intimidating Maybe Unfair Not at all On exactly what grounds should it be considered unfair Turow never tells you.7 The rumors circulated about individuals are likewise absurd Professor Morris, Turow s Civ Pro professor and recent HLS graduate at the top of his class, was verbally fellated by students given to hero worship Turow writes, About Morris, our talk was especially reverential, because he had so recently been through the law school himself and had left such an astonishing record The most amazing tale of his prowess was a story, perhaps apocryphal, that in a single four hour exam period he had written not only the test in the course, but also a term paper which he d forgotten to do in the crush of Law Review duties On both, he d received the highest grade in the class Perhaps it was apocryphal, Turow says And right after that exam, Morris challenged Bill Brasky to a bare knuckle boxing bout and won word is that he had him on his back in forty seconds 8 The amount of self induced fear and pressure is way beyond absurd when you step back and realize that all law school requires is writing of exams and papers That s it No big deal No wars, no torturing, no cancer or other illness to battle, no physical assaults, no deaths Just academic work No one cares nearly as much about it as the individual students.9 If One L makes the people in law school sound superhuman, here s a nice dose of reality written in the Vanderbilt Law Review gasp, Vanderbilt isn t even T14, but the author went to HLS so maybe it s acceptable

  4. says:

    This book is fine, except how people keep insisting it has anything to do with the actual common experience of law school A good read for anyone who does not want to go to law school, who has already gone to law school and wants to read a book that does not correspond in any way with their own experiences, those lawyers who persist in thinking that law is really hard and not just a terminal degree for the aimlessly clever, or those who will find confirmation of their existing prejudices about lawyers as snakes, demons or robots and law students as the larval forms thereof.This book would be unremarkable and harmless I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it were it not for the insistence by REAL LIVE LAWYERS who should know better to continue prodding college students into reading this book as part of their decision making process Please, law students keep away or, at the least, don t treat this book as any true statement of the social or intellectual experience of law school.

  5. says:

    Not that I was ever considering going to law school, but Scott Turow s account of his time as a One L at Harvard Law School in 1976 squashed that inkling of mine that it might be fun to try.It s a well written book, though, and certainly a must for anyone headed down that path Turow doesn t sugarcoat any of it the unyielding professors, the cattiness between students And just because the story itself is 30 years old doesn t mean it isn t valid Very few law schools have changed dramatically since then.My favorite quote came at the end I want the advantage, I said I want the competitive advantage I don t give a damn about anybody else I want to do better than them It took me awhile to believe I had actually said that I told myself I was kidding I told myself that I had said that to shock Terry and Stephen But I knew better What had been suppressed all year was in the open now I had not been talking about any innocent striving to achieve There had been murder in my voice And what were the stakes The difference between a B plus and a B This was supposed to be education a humane, cooperative enterprise.

  6. says:

    Before I started law school, I was repeatedly told to buy best selling author Turow s version of his first year at Harvard if for no other reason than everyone else there will have read it.Well, I m one week into law school, and no one has mentioned it, thanks Still, it wasn t a totally waste of time Reading how horrific Turow s professors were to him steeled me for my first day of class I was totally ready for someone to cry No one did I was almost disappointed at how nice all my professors are, then I came to my senses and was just fucking relieved.Turow s writing is punchy and enjoyable, and shit, the thing took no time at all to read Though when I had drinks with a group of older students by which the law school means anyone over 28 the book didn t come up.

  7. says:

    Dear Dad,Thanks for giving me One L to read You rarely impress upon me the need to read any one book in particular, so when you put this book in my hands I actually put down the book I had recently started and instantly began devouring Turow s memoir about his first year of law school I don t do that often It stresses me out to put a book aside unfinished in favor of another book which is also ironic considering the content of One L it s all about stress One L was also a little unusual for me because it s an older book first published in 1977 I typically don t read books written between 1955 and 2000, not as a matter of strategy but rather an accident of practice.I had a lot of thoughts about this book I read this book slowly because I was really paying a lot of attention, stopping to think about it, stopping to discuss it, before starting a new page I think Turow fully realizes all of his goals in this memoir he thoroughly conveys the rigors, terrors, and hysteria of his first year at Harvard Law School Beyond simply relating his experience, Turow immerses his reader in the experience of law school He doesn t candy coat it he tells it all good, bad, and neurotic.Aside from pondering Turow s experience of law school, I also found myself thinking about why you put this book in my hands Probably so I would understand what you, too, experienced when you were in law school I ve always been proud to say my dad is an attorney In my little kid and big kid brain, this meant you were smart And that meant that I could be smart, too But I have a whole new respect for those smarts after reading Turow s account of the demands both intellectual and emotional of law school.You probably also gave me this book to read because you know that I ve always wanted to be a lawyer that I still think about being a lawyer from time to time This book gave me a lot to think about I ve always figured that I have the rational mind to think through legal problems, and I love speaking and writing and noble causes So I d be a great lawyer, right After One L, I don t know It s possible if not probable that, indeed, I shouldn t have been a lawyer after all There are a lot of still appealing factors I think the mental exercises are fascinating I think reasoning out the law based on precedents that often contradict one another is a stimulating way to spend time I love researching I love writing However, throughout One L, Turow emphasizes learning to love the law and I don t know that I ever would Not in that way Actually, I love education Thinking through educational issues excites me and stimulates my mind I am interested to talk law, but I adore talking school For maybe the first time in my life, reading One L gave me a real sense that I didn t somehow miss my legal calling however alluring I might find it Thanks for a great read, Dad It made me see your legal education in an entirely different light.Love,Rebekah

  8. says:

    Not really a fan Problems I thought Turow, in protecting the identities of many students and professors, distilled them all into way less interesting, one note caricatures The urbane, wealthy aristocrat who makes a diligent but unremarkable student The nervous basket case who constantly sandbags himself yet gets great grades every time The scrappy Italian kid from Jersey who balks at authority and likes to make his own way The pretty blonde with crying outbursts whose frequency serves as a barometer for academic pressure And so on The professors were worse the friendly young guy professor, the absent minded but occasionally brilliant professor, and of course the bullying, intimidating but also undeniably engaging Contracts professor Turow has it pretty good, yet he does an awful lot of complaining He grouses about employment prospects for lawyers in 1975, which, while the legal market was certainly competitive, I don t think it was anything like as dismal as it is now Plus, he mentions how steep the price is 3,000 dollars a year several times, incredulously Which makes the whole book seem hilariously dated You know what that is in today s money 13,000 bucks 40,000 total for a degree Yet tuition now at a top school is like 50,000per year Add in living expenses in an area like Boston and you are looking at a quarter million dollars for a JD, if you are unfortunate enough to have to pay sticker price That s after probably spending something similar during undergrad So law school is a much dicier proposition now than it was then End rant I do see how egos and pressure can make law school competitive than it has to be, and manufacture a lot of artificial work in addition But weirdly, Turow didn t make the work seem that hard I expected to come away happy that I would never attend Harvard, not perplexed at the big deal everyone seemed to like to make out of a work load that didn t seem out of control.

  9. says:

    Now, granted, I didn t go to Harvard Law, but I DID attend a fairly high ranked law school and, from my experience, Turow protests FAR too much It makes for a good story, but oh, the drama I only wish that William and Mary had been that exciting and filled with academic intrigue

  10. says:

    I never, ever had a desire to go to law school, but for some reason this book called me to it I heard it mentioned somewhere and then kept running into it at the store where I work It was on sale for 3.99, so that was another bonus I haven t read any of Turow s legal thrillers, yet, but I may now One L is the story of Turow s first year at Harvard Law School in 1977 He covers the emotional ups and downs of that first year and how and why he and his peers changed for the better and how some became jaded Turow had a contract to write the book before he started his first year and kept a journal in which he wrote several times a week throughout the year This is not a how to make it through law school book Its about the emotional roller coaster ride that one goes through when being initiated into a new system for me, it read like a mash up between my experience of Marine Corps boot camp and graduate school in literature Although the book doesn t seem dated in any outward sense, other than Turow s use of an electric typewriter when writing exams, it does seem a little dated in that I think first year law students first year anythings are better prepared now than people were in the 1970s and earlier Why Because people talk about their experiences and there are many resources out there to consult, particularly the internet My sister and I have been struck by the difference in approach from how we thought about college and went about applying to college and how her eldest child is being groomed by teachers for college as a sopho in high school I couldn t help think of this difference while reading One L and thinking that people entering Harvard Law cannot possibly be as naive as Turow and his group were Still, I think what keeps this book fresh is its emphasis on the emotional experience of going through such an intense initiation into a new language, a new way of thinking, and a new profession with the added stress of being at THE law school, Harvard I image that even if today s One L aren t as naive, they still experience the same mind fuck that comes with indoctrination into a highly competitive and relatively closed society.

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