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One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School Paperback – September 1, 1997

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1st Trade Prn Sep 1997 edition (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446673781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446673785
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #691,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


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.

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

I recommend anyone planning on going to law school read this book, you will certainly enjoy it.
Jack of All Books
Both books make the reader feel the vital competition that still defines the law school experience, albeit in different eras.
Like many others that read 'One L' by Scott Turow, I am about to start my first year in law school.
DJK ver 2.0

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 56 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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66 of 76 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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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "joelthickins" on September 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Turow writes a gripping account of his first year at law school. Fortunately for many future "1L's" this account is a less then accurate depiction of a first year law experience. Law school is intense, especially the first year. No one doubts that. But his accounts of grade comparing, crying, panic attacks, etc. are not what law school is about. Law school is an academic challenge that is not impossible. Turow does encapsulate the friendships built in law school quite well. A delicate balance between loyalty and hard work, with a dash of competitiveness. This is not unlike anywhere else in the world; including undergraduate academia. I enjoyed reading this novel, and would recommend it to others as long as it was understood that law school has changed. Sure the Socratic method still prevails, but professor aloofness, backstabbing competitiveness, and law review or bust mentalities are all things of the past. I recommend it as an easy read for someone who understands the context under which the book was written(HLS in the 70's), but not for someone seeking an insiders account to law school in the 21st century.
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16 of 17 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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