THE LURE OF THE LAW by Richard Moll


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Lawyers talking. . .and talking. . .and talking. . .about why they went to law school, what practicing law was/is really like, and ""what being a lawyer has done to them."" Moll (Playing the Private College Admission Game, 1979) offers bland miniprofiles of about 40 lawyers and ex-lawyers but mostly just strings together interview quotes in unsatisfying clumps. An introductory chapter announces some unsurprising themes: the negative, mercenary image of lawyers; the lack of job satisfaction; the dearth of idealism; and the recurring query, ""So why cio so many responsible, respectable, thinking people want to be lawyers?. . ."" Next there's a brief section on law schools, with generalizations about typical applicants (naive, materialistic) and largely unhelpful close-ups of a few older, atypical aspirants. Then, after a handful of opinions about lawyers from nonlawyers, comes the bulk of the book: 100+ pages of comments by practicing attorneys. Many are discontented, disillusioned: ""Litigation is out of control. Much of the activity now is to cover lawyers' rear ends."" Others--among them a black criminal lawyer (""I can't imagine a better system""), a detached litigator and mother-of-two, and a jolly fellow whose clients include Bowdoin College--are reasonably happy. But only two of them are, as presented here, especially interesting: a staff attorney for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest; and famed trial lawyer Gerry Spence (""I'd remove the ABA!. . .I'd just do away with the LSAT . . .I'll die in court""). A thin final chapter on nonpracticing lawyers (entrepreneurs, a gay activist, Ed Koch) is slightly livelier, though the few moments with Marilyn Quayle prove soporific. Moll's reactions to the interviewees range from obvious to famous. (""I felt I have met integrity, head on."") Nor do his conclusions about the cause of lawyer malaise--law schools get major blame--seem fresh or persuasive. In all, then: a magazine-article idea puffed out to book length, of browsing interest only to prospective law students and a few others.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1990
Publisher: Viking