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Double Billing: A Young Lawyer's Tale Of Greed, Sex, Lies, And The Pursuit Of A Swivel Chair Paperback – October 20, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688172229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688172220
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Double Billing, author Cameron Stracher puts the legal profession on trial and finds it guilty of waste, fraud, and other offenses. Stracher has based his inside account on three punishing years as a young associate at a New York City law firm, given the fictional name Crowley and Cavanaugh. With everyone facing nearly impossible odds to become partner, there are no lawyers in love at Stracher's firm--only lawyers at war. The lifeblood at C & C is "the billable hour." Even a first-year associate costs clients $150 an hour. What's more, there's little desire to save money. "The longer C & C fought on behalf of a client, the more C & C was paid," he soon learns.

There is no literal double billing, but it comes close. Clients sometimes pay twice for virtually the same service--once by the associate and then again by the partners. Every associate's memo is revised by a partner, for example. Two corporate combatants often pay their respective attorneys outrageous fees to research and argue the same, narrow points of law. The outcome is rarely in doubt.

Stracher's young lawyers are ambivalent and cynical--there are no illusions in the courtrooms of Generation X. "Today, law students have nothing but doubts: about the nobility of their chosen profession, about their interest in it and about its interest in them," he writes. Say goodbye to the idealism of John Osborn's The Paper Chase. So much for the committed bunch in Scott Turow's One L. Double Billing is a great read if you're thinking of becoming a lawyer or if you work with lawyers. It will no doubt change the way you think about our system of justice. --Dan Ring --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In the cautionary tradition of John J. Osborn's Paper Chase and Scott Turow's One L comes this engaging account of a Harvard Law graduate's disastrous entr?e into big-firm litigation. Drawing on both his own experience and interviews with other associates, Stracher (The Laws of Return) creates a "composite" portrait of a white-shoe New York practice he dubs "Cavanaugh & Crowley." For Stracher, life at "C&C" is round-the-clock "make-work," a dehumanizing marathon of superfluous research assignments and mindless clerical tasks relieved by late night Chinese takeout. Not only is the work tedious, it's also lonely: after the bracing Socratic dialogues of law school, he is staggered by the lack of feedback and the overall "coldness of law firm life." In three years of employment, Stracher has only minimal interactions with three partners and three senior associates, and a bantering familiarity with a handful of other young associates consisting mainly of comparing billable hours. His complaint that the work isn't more interesting is intended as an indictment of "C&C," but it also makes for an undramatic story. Readers enticed by the subtitle's promise of "greed, lies [and] sex" may be disappointed: the only dish is a glimpse of a first-year associate embracing a paralegal at the annual Christmas bash, and a secondhand report of a partner who read faxes of a merger agreement during Passover seder. On the other hand, Stracher's characterizations are vivid and humane, his criticisms are convincing and his observations of workaday lawyering are as sharp as the corners of a legal brief. Editor, Claire Wachtel; agent, Lisa Bankoff/ICM.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Calvin93 on April 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
OK, so we all didn't go to Harvard and few of us went straight from school into a blue chip NYC law firms - but it is exhilarating to read this very intimate memoir of some one who did AND lived to tell about it. The book starts with the splash of cold water culture shock the author feels in his first days at his new firm (C & C) and how the crush of the work is in such contrast to his experience when he had "summered" there working during law school where he did little work and was taken out to lunch each day. You get the sense of how lost Stracher felt as assignments came from all angles, or worse some time, none at all, sending off the dreaded feeling of not making his hours. The author is candid about the feelings of competitiveness that dominate a new associate's thoughts, and he watches his peers carefully to make sure he is on the right pace. Some of his frustrations will make you smile: his inability to get a new chair when his old one breaks, his dilemna over wanting to leave work to see his girlfriend at night but staying late just to keep up with the Joneses, and the time he spends an entire weekend prepping a case file only to learn, come Monday, that the case settled Friday and no one told him. And as his enthusiasm for the work fades, the great money keeps him going, until some point after a year and half, he prepares to call it quits. The message of how anonymous Stracher felt at the big firm, his work unnoticed by the partners, comes to a head when he wins a 5K race against competitors from other firms, which is reported in the local papers, and elevates him to celebrity status at the firm, earning the praise of senior partners who previously had not known of his existence.Read more ›
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Taylor on February 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
In Double Billing: A Young Lawyer's Tale of Greed, Sex, Lies, and the Pursuit of a Swivel Chair, author Cameron Stracher provides the reader with an in-depth look at working in a prominent New York firm based on his real life experiences. Stracher's main character is an unnamed attorney recently graduated from Harvard Law who is starting as a first year associate at the fictional firm of Crowley & Cavanaugh (C&C). But before proceeding with his character's experiences from day one, he provides the reader with the basic layout of our litigious society. Indeed, that the legal industry exists for itself is a sub-theme of his book. "[P]eace is bad business for the peacemakers," he writes.
Starting in C&C's litigation department, Stracher's character faces mountainous discovery tasks and endless workweeks. He accurately explains that much of his work is completely unnecessary, and that the only reason he performs it is because his prominent firm can afford it, just in case it needs it. "If one associate could do the research, why not two? If one motion might succeed, what about a second? We threw everything into the pot and hoped something would rise. If it didn't, at least our bills would be paid." He adds that "because C&C's fees were paid out of an insurance policy, with each payment reducing the amount that would be left for settlement, the insurance company had little incentive to insist on a settlement now." Hence, given that much of his work was really unnecessary, he genuinely felt detached from the general and important issues in his cases. He also expresses disappointment at not having the opportunity to argue in court. However, his disappointment subsides when he learns that the partner in charge of the case has never argued in court at all.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
After 20 years in the legal profession, I can assure you that this is, without a doubt, the most accurate book about the way things really are in law firms. I got into law because the guys on TV were always in the courtroom. Little did I know that the first year of practice means 20 hours a day in the library, 7 days a week. The second year means graduating to reviewing 100,000 documents which "may" have something to do with the case, but probably don't. Even the partners who do a lot of courtroom work (based on the research, writing, and busywork of the lower echelon) are not in the courtroom as often as Perry Mason.
If you are looking for a classic courtroom thriller of the John Grisham/Steve Martini variety, this isn't it. What it is, is the perfect gift for that person who wants to go to law school. Once they read the unvarnished truth, instead of the drama, they will probably change their career goals. Real-life civil litigation isn't Ally McBeal, it isn't L.A. Law ... it's boring and stressful. Stracher is the first attorney to tell the truth about it.
A must-read for all future and current law students.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As a senior associate at a large corporate law firm in Los Angeles who began his career at a large firm in New York, I can vouch for the unerring accuracy of the detail of the life of a junior associate at a large firm (right down to the smell of the Chinese food delivered late at night). Notwithstanding that every recent law school graduate appears to be an aspiring writer, Mr. Stracher is the first to actually write knowingly about the life of the junior associate. His book deserves to be read by every person considering law school and a legal career. My only criticism is that Mr. Stracher's pervasively pessimistic account, while not unwarranted, fails to give an inkling of the intellectual (and physical) rush of complex transactions and litigations that attracts a certain type of individual who is "addicted to the deal." But that is a minor criticism. Four stars.
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More About the Author

Cameron Stracher was born and raised in Roslyn, Long Island. At a young age, he wanted to be a writer, and had his first play produced while an undergraduate at Amherst College. After college, he retreated to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where he tried to write the Great American Novel. Failing miserably, he enrolled at Harvard Law School, where he still managed to take a writing workshop from Mary Robison at Harvard College. He returned to Woods Hole after earning his J.D. degree, and was the only waiter at the Coonamessett Inn who was also admitted to the New York State bar. Finally, succumbing to parental and financial pressure, he got a real job at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., where he lasted for one year before fleeing for the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.

He spent four years in Iowa City, studying under Frank Conroy, James Salter, Marilynne Robinson, Meg Wolitzer, and Deborah Eisenberg. More important, he met his wife, Christine Pakkala, a poet, while she was serving cheese samples at the food co-op. After Christine graduated, the couple moved to New York City where Cameron practiced law at Friedman & Kaplan, and then became in-house counsel at CBS, handling libel, privacy, copyright and other claims for the network. One of the highlights of his career during those years was getting Dan Rather out of jury duty.

Cameron won a fiction fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 1994, and his first novel, The Laws of Return, was published by William Morrow in 1996. His non-fiction account of his life as a law firm associate, Double Billing: A Young Lawyer's Tale of Greed, Sex, Lies, and a Swivel Chair, was also published by Morrow in 1998. He left CBS in 1999 and joined the media law firm Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, where he became partner and helped open the New York office. In 2001, he began teaching at New York Law School, and eventually became the Publisher of the Law Review and the Co-Director of the school's new Program in Law & Journalism. His second book of non-fiction, Dinner with Dad: How I Found My Way Back to the Family Table, was published by Random House in 2007. It has recently been optioned for television by 3Arts Entertainment. In 2010 Cameron left New York Law School to spend more time writing and with his family. In 2011, Sourcebooks published his first YA novel, the dystopian thriller The Water Wars.

At present, he is Of Counsel to Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, and has his own media law practice where he counsels clients like Hybrid Films, producer of the hit TV series Dog the Bounty Hunter, and provides litigation and transactional advice to other independent film, TV, and entertainment companies. He also handles all pre-publication review for Star and OK! magazines and all litigation for American Media publications, including the National Enquirer.

In addition to his books, Cameron has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He is an avid runner and his non-fiction book about the running boom, The Kings of the Road, will be published by Houghton Mifflin in April 2013. He lives in Westport, Connecticut, with his wife, two children, and two dogs.

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Double Billing: A Young Lawyer's Tale Of Greed, Sex, Lies, And The Pursuit Of A Swivel Chair
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