What do lawyers do all day (and many nights) to earn the big bucks and the ill-favored reputation? Stracher (The Laws of Return, 1996) answers with an animated description of his life as an overworked, overpaid associate in a big New York firm. Ever since lawyering seemed to change from an honored profession to a tough business, the sole object of the game has been billable hours (read "huge fees"). Many firms, particularly the big "white shoe"outfits with major corporate clients, regularly transmute the lives of recently minted lawyers, their associates, into billable hours. Counselor Stracher describes his two years with such a firm (really a composite of several, and representative of many). His own point of view while employed as a biggie was much like that of a hamster on a treadmill: He tells of foolish, wasted, pointless work. But in law, there's no such thing as too much preparation. And if all-nighters were required, it was usually the associates and paralegals who ate cold pizza into the wee hours—often to support what the author supposed were positions of little merit. Documents, of course, abounded. Lawyer Stracher, in his brief, takes us on a quick tour of the back office, introducing us to quirky colleagues and offering a mini-primer on some black-letter law. Nowhere, though, does he document the unethical practice mentioned in his title. Rather, the mores and manners, foods and fashions of typical swashbuckling lawyers are dissected with skill and humor. Stracher's heart lies in the writer's art, not the art of litigation. He's now an "in-house" litigator with a major network, not—as lawyers joke—an "out-house" attorney in a private firm. A jaundiced but eloquent report on law's current habits.
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