CLEARING THE BAR by Alex Wellen

CLEARING THE BAR

One Man’s Freefall into a Legal Career
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Newcomer Wellen describes simultaneously cocky and paranoid progress toward life as a lawyer.

Young Wellen nurtured aspirations to be a kick-ass New York attorney. (To him, “attorney” sounds better than “lawyer,” by the way.) He wanted the image and he wanted the money. But though dressed in great suits and square-toed black shoes, he had one handicap: he was attending a second-tier law school, not one of top 50 according to an annual survey. (Every other lawyer Wellen encountered is labeled “Tier 1.”) After year two at Tier 2, engineering-school grad Alex, inventor of a unique table tennis paddle, was ready to endure law-firm recruitment rituals. It was chitchat hell, of course—“you should be Mirandized before a lunch interview.” Then, after he finally landed a good job offer, came the real rite of passage: the bar exam. Wellen itemizes the requisite preparatory cram course’s tribulations—charts, codes, notes, hornbooks, outlines, flash cards; all the law in nutshells—which pale in comparison to the abiding terror prompted by the exam itself. Probability of failure, degradation, and ruin was precisely calculated during the months of waiting through ailments, European backpacking, and securing a Tribeca loft. Of course, he passed. Thence to work at a major intellectual-property firm, lugging the ubiquitous litigation bag on trips to the Northwest, where inkjet cartridge arcana were disclosed to him. (He now kindly passes it on to us.) Also shared in imaginative detail are his relations with family (kid brother, parents “Oracle” and “Optimist”), friends, colleagues, and many comely women (the tone smacks occasionally of singles-bar wit). Though happy to keep his bar membership, Wellen no longer practices law. He has fallen into the TV business, where the image and money may be even better.

At once clever and shallow, glib and entertaining: legal studies lite, pretty close to Tier 1.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 2003
ISBN: 1-4000-4891-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Harmony
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2003