A NATION UNDER LAWYERS

HOW THE CRISIS IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION IS TRANSFORMING AMERICAN SOCIETY

An entertaining addition to the growing shelf of books about the discontents of lawyers and, by implication, the rest of the citizenry who has to put up with them. Glendon (Rights Talk, not reviewed), a professor at Harvard Law School who started her legal career as an associate at a large Chicago law firm, offers an extremely interesting—if somewhat rambling and ultimately inconclusive—mixture of personal anecdote and sociological theory to describe purportedly profound changes in the legal profession over the past half-century and the effect of these changes on our democratic society: the rise in the number of lawyers, the burgeoning caseloads (one federal judge refers to himself as the ``Terminator'' because of the need to get matters over with rapidly, often at the cost of reflective justice), the economic pressures that have, in some eyes, reduced professionalism in favor of market imperatives and created the rise of an adversarial class of lawyers who accede to their clients' every wish. Glendon solemnly quotes Gibbon with respect to another empire where the growth in lawyers and legalism coincided with a decline and fall in the spirit of law that makes republican government viable; yet the author is neither as pessimistic nor as whiny as Sol M. Linowitz in his recent lament (The Betrayed Profession, p. 372). She does, however, raise many more questions than she answers, and her premise of seismic shocks to the foundation of the profession remains just that: premise rather than proof. Over 20 years ago, S.F.C. Milsom demonstrated that the growth of the Anglo- American common law comes not from some idealized development of legal principles but from the everyday work of lawyers attempting to find new solutions for their clients' problems. In light of that historical perspective, it remains to be seen whether alterations to the legal profession and society since the early 1960s are as cataclysmic as Glendon characterizes them. Well written and thought provoking, if not totally convincing.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-374-21938-9

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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