A comical view of the legal profession from the perspective of a veteran attorney.
In this debut collection, Weiss compiles anecdotes from his career of more than three decades, presenting short, reader-friendly chapters, often with seemingly innocuous titles that pack a punch. In “Clothes Make the Man,” an intercepted package of lingerie sets in motion some contentious divorce proceedings, but the items in question are actually intended for the husband rather than an imagined paramour. A career criminal released on bail decides to seek a cheap sexual thrill in “Always Look for a Bargain.” The case—which combines prostitution, an undercover vice officer, counterfeit bills and a runaway car—ironically results in a sizable settlement for the injured party with the long rap sheet. “Why We Hate Judges” involves an oral surgeon who takes extremely unflattering photographs of a patient while she’s anesthetized. After the surgeon’s malpractice insurance carrier forces him to pay damages out of his own pocket, a judge decides that he can successfully sue the insurance company for an amount significantly larger than the sum he initially paid out. Weiss recognizes that most readers are now familiar with basic legal terms due to the proliferation in popular culture of crime programs and courtroom dramas, but he still makes the effort to explain them in a concise fashion. The greatest drawback, however, stems from the mechanics of the writing itself: faulty sentence structure, misspelled words and botched punctuation. Narration that slips back and forth between the present and past tenses can be disorienting. Still, despite the rough patches, the text ends on a high note. In the final chapter, “Second Chance,” Weiss recounts a notable real case that he considers to be his crowning achievement. After serving on a jury that ruled against the victim of a flophouse fire, the author eventually became the victim’s advocate in pursuit of a fair settlement based on severe injuries. The legal maneuvering required was quite remarkable and definitely worthy of consideration.
Light reading that underscores the quirky, exasperating elements of the American justice system.