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AT THE BAR by David Margolick

AT THE BAR

The Passions and Peccadilloes of American Lawyers

By David Margolick

Pub Date: April 24th, 1995
ISBN: 0-671-88787-4
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

 An engaging and exceedingly readable collection of essays on legal matters both great and modest. Margolick is a journalist who also boasts (perhaps ``admits to'' is a better phrase) a law degree. From November 1987 until he became the New York Times San Francisco bureau chief earlier this year, he wrote the entertaining Times column ``At the Bar,'' 120 examples of which are collected here. Although often depicting the legal profession at its best or its worst, Margolick's pieces are not blatant commentaries. He neither proselytizes nor expounds grand theories about law because, he argues, interesting anecdotes alone cannot be the basis for judging the value of the legal profession. Rather, Margolick seeks to show through examples that ``lawyers are, in fact, nothing but mirrors of ourselves.'' Loosely grouped into 12 chapters (``Personalities,'' ``Ethics,'' ``The Feminization of the Law,'' etc.), the essays cover such serious issues as the attempts of attorneys to balance career and parenthood; the firing of a lawyer who reported the ethical violations of another attorney in his firm; and an exceedingly cruel satire written by members of the Harvard Law Review lampooning the life and writings of a recently murdered feminist law professor. Lighter topics include the legal profession's passion for footnotes; how lawyers vied for cameo parts in the movie The Firm; and the campaign for the 1994 presidency of the American Bar Association, during which one candidate alleged that his opponent's foot condition made him physically unable to hold office, while the pedally impaired aspirant countered that his rival was too fat. Margolick's columns are invariably well-written, entertaining, thought-provoking, and pleasingly devoid of legal jargon. Fascinating snapshots of the myriad foibles and occasional heroics of lawyering and the law. A book that will engross lawyer and layperson alike.