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One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School Paperback – December 28, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Actor Paul Rudd deftly narrates this fascinating story of author Turow's experience as a first-year Harvard Law School student. Moreover, Rudd's voice sounds remarkably like Turow's, who provides an introduction. Personal narratives written by successful, famous persons should have to pass a humility test in which all references to entrance exam scores, grade point averages, and collegial or professional honors are stricken from the text, and editors' jobs should depend on how well they apply that test. The editor of this production would receive a solid A-. Even though we know he goes on to fabulous success as both a lawyer and a writer, Turow's initial ego is beautifully subdued by the end of his year as a "One L."?Mark Pumphrey, Polk Cty. P.L., Columbus, NC
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

New York Times Book Review A compelling and important book. -- Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143119028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143119029
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (241 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Scott Turow was born in Chicago in 1949. He graduated with high honors from Amherst College in 1970, receiving a fellowship to Stanford University Creative Writing Center which he attended from 1970 to 1972. From 1972 to 1975 Turow taught creative writing at Stanford. In 1975, he entered Harvard Law School, graduating with honors in 1978. From 1978 to 1986, he was an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago, serving as lead prosecutor in several high-visibility federal trials investigating corruption in the Illinois judiciary. In 1995, in a major pro bono legal effort he won a reversal in the murder conviction of a man who had spent 11 years in prison, many of them on death row, for a crime another man confessed to.

Today, he is a partner in the Chicago office of Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal an international law firm, where his practice centers on white-collar criminal litigation and involves representation of individuals and companies in all phases of criminal matters. Turow lives outside Chicago

Customer Reviews

Very well written and very interesting.
mary payton
It's a terrific read and I just wanted people to know that what Harvard is like is pretty much true of law school over here.
Prof Jonathan M. Dunsby
The essence of the story is how the author faced and survived a great personal challenge.
Xue Tian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Zeldock on August 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
Even though this memoir was first published almost 25 years ago, it is still the best depiction of what law school is *really* like. When I went to Harvard Law School (starting in 1995, exactly 20 years after Turow), everyone told me "It's not like One-L anymore." That's only half true -- One-L is overly dramatic, but the basic events and emotions he depicts rang true again and again. Of course, as the other reviews show, some law students are able to blow off the intensity, others (like Turow) become consumed by it, and the rest (like me) swing back and forth between panic and enjoyment. All in all, this is an excellent peek at the law school experience. Just don't use this as your only basis for deciding whether to go to law school and/or to Harvard.
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67 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schwinghammer VINE VOICE on April 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I originally read ONE L, I think, because I was a big fan of The Paper Chase. This version includes an afterward, written after PRESUMED INNOCENT was published.

As a first-year law student, Turow had to study the law of Contracts, Torts, and Property, Criminal Law, and Civil Procedure. A lot of this reminded me of the Paper Chase with professors using the Socratic method in which students are interrogated at length on selected court cases from which they are expected to deduce legal principles.

Rudolph Perini, Turow's Contracts professor, will definitely remind you of Professor Kingsfield. "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, the mornings we have Contracts . . . I'm nearly sick to my stomach. . . . I can't believe it, but I think about that class and I get ill," Turow complains.

Another Paper Chase element is the study group. A small number of students, usually between four and eight, would meet regularly to discuss common concerns. Turow valued his group for its therapeutic function. At first Turow and his cohorts in the study group disdained grades, but that gradually changed as Midterms drew closer. The top five or six people in each 1L section would be elected to The Law Review the next summer. Those elected would glean faculty contacts, the opportunity to teach at a law school, and the possibility of a Supreme Court clerkship.

Some parts of ONE L are rather funny. For instance, students often retaliated against a professor by hissing, "a piece of student weaponry frequently used when a professor dismissed a student's comments unfairly or said something hardhearted". Another instance would be the night before Midterms when Turow took a sleeping pill, and a Valium, but still couldn't get to sleep.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Dan Lobnitz on October 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
One of my classmates told me about this book about six weeks into my first semester of law school. I read it and it scared me to death; I'm glad I didn't read this book BEFORE I submitted my application to law school.
As an academic prima donna in college who really never had to WORK to get good grades, the tenor of this book was something of a shock. Looking back, I found it to be pretty accurate. It also helped me to understand that I wasn't the only one who felt out of my league. Turow's descriptions of the mood of his first year class in those innocent, early weeks to the shell-shocked dread he describes just before finals is really close to what I saw in my first year. Unlike the other reviewers, I saw some of my classmates crumble. I heard about the panic attacks first hand. I saw marriages disintegrate, nice people become really weird and pedigreed academics like me get cut way down to size. Finally I watched as the attrition rate kick in, and I knew it for what it was. This book helped me understand what it was I had gotten myself into. Turow doesn't hold any punches. I, for one, appreciated his candor. It was something to hold onto during those sleepless nights.
My advise to anyone who is thinking about trying for law school: Look before you leap and find out as much as you can about what you are getting into. Law school is nothing like college. And Turow illustrates that pretty clearly in this book. That having been said, don't let Turow scare you. Your first year is going to be ugly, but once you make it through, and you will, you're a completely different person.
Dan Lobnitz - University of Denver College of Law (2L)
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62 of 76 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Turow's book is the generally accepted bible of law school life and it lives up to that reputation in part. His depictions of the pressures of the first year of law school are by-and-large accurate, for law schools throughout the U.S., not merely at Harvard. First and foremost, the amount of work required to succeed at law school is at least double or triple the amount of work that a law student expended in college. I attended one of the five most difficult, academically competitive and intensive universities in the country as an undergraduate, studied twice as much as the average college student and was completely unprepared for the workload required at law school.
There is some competition between students, but the most extreme cases of this usually involve students whose ambitions outstrip their abilities.
Some discussions that Turow left out:
1. Should the student even be in law school? Most law school graduates, upon obtaining some experience after graduation, realize that they made a mistake and should have done something else with their lives. There are reasons for attorneys' dissatisfactions with the law, including excessive pressure, workload and stress from dealing with unreasonable clients, counsel and judges.
2. What should be the goals of the law student or law student-to-be? Turlow relates the pressures of competition for a high class rank and membership on law review, but does not even hint that within five years of graduation, those factors become minor and have nothing to do with job satisfaction post-law school.
However, Turow's failure to discuss these issues is consistent with the naive notions of most first year law students.
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One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School
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