Brush with the Law: The True Story of Law School Today at Harvard and Stanford

Overview

Just how tough are the country's most prestigious law schools? Most alumni would answer with stories of humiliating "Socratic dialogue failures" in the classroom and all-night, caffeine-fueled cram sessions.

Until now, the traditional concept of the law-school experience was the one presented in Scott Turow's One-L, published in 1977, a dark description of his first year at Harvard Law School. Twenty-four years later things have definitely changed. Turow's book became the ...

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Overview

Just how tough are the country's most prestigious law schools? Most alumni would answer with stories of humiliating "Socratic dialogue failures" in the classroom and all-night, caffeine-fueled cram sessions.

Until now, the traditional concept of the law-school experience was the one presented in Scott Turow's One-L, published in 1977, a dark description of his first year at Harvard Law School. Twenty-four years later things have definitely changed. Turow's book became the accepted primer-and warning-for aspiring law students, giving them a glimpse of what awaited: grueling nonstop study, brutally competitive classes, endless research, and unfathomable terminology. It described a draconian prison and endless work in the company of equally obsessive, desperate fellow students.

Yet, sidestepping terror and intimidation, law students (and new authors) Robert Byrnes and Jaime Marquart entered highly prestigious law schools, did things their own way, earned law degrees, and were hired by a Los Angeles law firm, turning Turow's vision upside down. In their parallel narratives-two twisted, hilarious, blighted, and glorious coming-of-age stories-Byrnes and Marquart explain how they managed to graduate while spending most of their time in the pursuit of pleasure.

Byrnes went to Stanford to reinvent himself-after a false start in politics he wanted to explore the life of the mind. It took him virtually no time to discover that the law was neither particularly intriguing nor particularly challenging. He could play around the clock. When Byrnes wasn't biking he was getting drunk and smoking crack. Finding himself when he discovered the right woman, Byrnes finally moved to Los Angeles during his third year and flew upstate only to take final exams.

Born and raised in a small town in Texas, Marquart had never lived outside the state before arriving at Harvard. Amazed at his own good luck, he approached school with all due diligence. Disenchantment followed shortly thereafter, and Marquart learned he needn't be intimidated by his classmates and teachers. With a mysterious and bizarre companion-another student called the Kankoos-Jaime took up traveling but devoted most of his energy (and considerable money) to gambling, counting cards in casinos around the country.

Irreverent, funny, and downright shocking, Brush with the Law will inspire undergraduates to bone up for the entrance exam, while outraging lawyers and the admissions officers of their beloved alma maters.

Upon realizing how easy it was to get good grades, Jaime relates:

"I approached my second year with [one] goal . . . take classes that required the least amount of work and the least amount of attendance . . . To accomplish my . . . goal, I devised The System, a short instruction manual on the principles behind selecting and ditching law school classes. The System's goal was to screw off as much as possible, with few if any consequences." —from Brush with the Law

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Byrnes and Marquart, 1998 law school graduates (Stanford and Harvard, respectively), have fun debunking their law studies. This account of their three years in law school includes a mishmash of incidents that touch on both the funny and the serious sides of life. Some readers will enjoy their tongue-in-cheek tale, while others will question its purpose. The truth of the opinions ventured here e.g., that to a legal realist, the question whether abortion is constitutionally protected is all about whether the deciding judge prefers it to be available remains open to debate. These authors found that in law school they did not need to devote themselves to their studies, and one wonders whether the majority of law school students and graduates can relate. Not for law collections, though libraries with large humor collections might consider. Leroy Hommerding, Fort Myers Beach Lib. Dist., FL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580631785
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2002
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Byrnes and Jaime Marquart graduated from law school in 1998. The authors reside in Los Angeles, where they practice law at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2003

    Gripping Story, Myth-Killing Message

    Wow! Just finished, and I'm a bit overwhelmed by how much is packed into this book: two stories spot-on true about what it is to be 20/30 years-old today, scandalous narcissism next to passages of soaring and heartfelt feeling; all that, plus a neutron bomb dropped on the pretenses of elite legal education. The most powerful challenge to established institutions and mores I have ever read. Why isn't this book more famous?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2002

    Loved it.

    As an African American woman I picked this book up thinking I would not be able to relate as it was about two caucasian males. Boy was I wrong. I loved this book because it was real and modern. It touched on a very true subject. People slack and though they wouldnt want their parents teachers and bosses to know they all do it. They made a goal become reachable and I apprecaite it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2002

    Great book

    I think "Brush with the Law" is a great read. As a pre-law student, this book accounts for the side of law school that most choose not to write about. A must read for anyone considering a future in law.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2001

    Pleasantly Surprised

    I was a bit put off by all the (seemingly tasteless)fanfare around this book, by which I came to possess a 'special' signed (and numbered (ugh!)) advance copy. Still am. However, the book itself is a delight: a fast-paced page turner where the institutional dreariness of law school is merely setting for the unfolding of personal stories that are jammed with suspense, sorrow, and triumph. Actually resembles Turow's best novels more than One L (to which this book is an obvious response). Only criticism is there were more characters than a Russian epic.

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