Letters to a Young Lawyer / Edition 1

Letters to a Young Lawyer / Edition 1

4.7 3
by Alan M. Dershowitz

ISBN-10: 0465016332

ISBN-13: 2900465016333

Pub. Date: 04/11/2005

Publisher: Basic Books

As defender of both the righteous and the not-so-righteous, Alan Dershowitz has become perhaps the most renowned and outspoken attorney in the land. A dedicated champion of civil liberty and the rule of law, he has earned the respect of admirers and critics alike for the way he has chosen to live his life and pursue a truly unparalleled career as teacher, lawyer,…  See more details below


As defender of both the righteous and the not-so-righteous, Alan Dershowitz has become perhaps the most renowned and outspoken attorney in the land. A dedicated champion of civil liberty and the rule of law, he has earned the respect of admirers and critics alike for the way he has chosen to live his life and pursue a truly unparalleled career as teacher, lawyer, author, and scholar. In Letters to a Young Lawyer, he distills the wealth of his experiences and the passion of his beliefs into essays about life, law, and what it means to be a good lawyer and a good person.

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Table of Contents

Pt. ILife and Career
1Pick Your Heroes Carefully3
2Live the Passion of Your Times15
3Have a Good Enemies' List19
4Don't Do What You're Best At21
5Don't Have Deathbed Regrets25
6Don't Follow "Off-the-Rack" Advice29
7Don't Limit Your Options by Making a Lot of Money33
8Don't Risk What You Don't Have Enough of to Get More of What You Have Plenty Of37
9Is There an Absolute Morality?41
10Should Good Lawyers Defend Bad People?47
11Defending Yourself from Legal McCarthyism57
12How to Balance Idealism, Realism and Cynicism65
13Your Last Exam69
15The Perfect Is the Enemy of the Excellent77
16An Honorable Profession?79
17Blowing the Whistle83
18The Good, the Bad, the Honest and the Dishonest87
19Your Client Is Not Your Friend95
20Stop Whining, Start Winning99
Pt. IIWinning and Losing
21Where Can You Learn Advocacy?105
22Winning Before a Jury: The "Aha" Theory111
23Winning Before a Judge: Political Justice119
24Arguing in the Supreme Court125
25Who Is Your Client?129
27Don't Underestimate Your Opponent135
28The Prosecutor's Blind Spot137
29The Difference Between a Prosecutor and a Defense Attorney147
30Lawyers' Morals - and Other Oxymorons151
31Know When to Fight - and When to Give In161
32Dealing with Criticism163
Pt. IIIBeing a Good Person
33Can a Good Lawyer Be a Good Person?169
34Can You Pass the "Fluoridation" Test?177
35Graduating Law Students181
36Graduating University Students187
37Why Be a Good Person?193

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Letters to a Young Lawyer 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book ¿ well written, cogent and persuasive ¿ the perfect launch of the new Art of Mentoring series. Alan M. Dershowitz, an impassioned and outspoken attorney, is keenly aware of the risks and pitfalls of legal practice. He squarely confronts the fact that lawyers often find themselves having to make moral or ethical choices in ambiguous circumstances in which the lesser of two evils is the only possible choice because there is no clear good ¿ and yet, no clearly lesser evil. The book does not pretend to be objective. It is a compilation of advice, great courtroom war stories, practical tips and philosophical conclusions. Dershowitz is a fighter who chose his side long ago and has no intention of deserting it. Some of his more liberal positions will seem wrong-headed or ill-considered to those who disagree. Well, not ill-considered; he is a thoughtful man who takes lawyering seriously. We recommend this book to you whether or not you intend to study or practice law. It is valuable for an audience far broader than only young lawyers, including those who hire them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of those books that has a promising preface, which made me want to read the rest of it. I am not a lawyer and it is hard for me to comment on virtues of authors legal insights. However, I found the book quite informative with regards to author's professional field - law. I found the weakest part of the book to be author's philosophical discussions about religion and goodness of human character. However, reader who has never heard of Hillel or Kohelet, may find these chapters of book quite educational.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Caution: This book contains some strong language that will offend some. I found it no worse than what is said on television talk shows every day, if you can read lips. . I highly recommend this book to all those who are thinking of going to law school, are attending law school, or are planning their legal careers. Professor Dershowitz (whose student I have been) tells it like it is about the many flaws in the legal system, the ways that law and personal morality come into conflict, and the flagrant abuses of power that occur. His purpose is to prepare you for what is coming, so that you can make a good decision about where practicing or teaching law fits the balance of professional challenge and personal integrity that makes sense to and for you. He also warns against those who give advice, noting that most describe how you can become like them . . . or repeat all of their mistakes because they have never learned from those experiences. Law is ¿ethically ambiguous terrain.¿ Then, section by section, he describes those moral ambiguities, especially as they occur in the criminal justice system. Although not everyone will agree with his advice, you will certainly see the terrain clearly. Perhaps the most interesting argument is that ¿the truly moral person . . . does the right thing without . . . reward or . . . punishment.¿ In making this case, he moves to a notion of morality that is beyond religious ethics. I could see myself again traveling down the road of disillusionment that Professor Dershowitz describes. First, we find a legal hero. What we don¿t realize is that this hero also has human flaws of which we will not approve. When we find out about those flaws, our sense of the idealism of the law is diminished. Then, we experience the rude shock of realizing that the process of law is about disposing of disputes, rather than creating ¿blind justice.¿ Your job as a lawyer is to go to the ethical limits on behalf of your client, even if you hate the client and her or his cause. Can such a ¿hired gun¿ emerge with honor? Professor Dershowitz argues ¿yes¿ but indicates that one¿s personal conscious will often be left bruised in the process. If you don¿t want to deal with that, many areas of the law aren¿t for you. He tells you which ones to avoid. He also tells you to find out what¿s coming, rather than to whine about it when it arrives. I agree wholeheartedly with that advice. I wish I had had this book to read as a young law student. I certainly intend to give it as a gift to young people who are thinking about or are beginning their legal studies or careers. Pay particular attention to the advice to balance what you are good at doing with what feels good to you. What should a profession provide in the way of satisfactions, opportunities, rewards, and challenges? Seek to be the professional whom you would like to hire for yourself! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The 2,000 Percent Solution and The Irresistible Growth Enterprise