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Having whimpered his way through the first year of Harvard Law School (The Paper Chase, 1971), Osborn is now whining--occasionally to some comic effect--about how hard and unfair and inhuman life is during a lawyer's first year at an old-line Wall Street law firm. His alter ego this time is semi-rebellious first-year associate Samuel Weston, right out of Harvard and downright unhappy at stuffy (and these days, atypical) Bass & Marshall, where oddball, obsessive partners command him to stay up nights, work on weekends, proofread a big debenture, or research ease after case to no apparent purpose. (The primary lawsuit, which resists Osborn's attempts at bringing it to life, involves securities law violations.) Weston's passion is directed instead toward fellow associate Camilla Newman, who is very modern (""We agreed to screw each other and not to screw each other over"") and liberatedly indulges in a side-affair with a loathsome, climbing, married senior associate; as a result, Weston and Camilla bicker and swear at great length--a most unappealing anti-romance. Thank heavens and Yale Law, then, for the third associate here, Craig Littlefield, who walks about in a drug-induced haze and, until he is fired for citing Cicero instead of court eases, floats in with some amusing, dead-pan one-liners. Short on plot, long on ""exposÉ"" atmosphere, and very sentimental behind the smart-alecky tone, this minor entertainment, like The Paper Chase, would be far better as a movie--where the actors can provide the charm missing in the leading characters.

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1978
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin