- Hardcover: 140 pages
- Publisher: Four Directions Pr; 1st edition (February 1, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0962765988
- ISBN-13: 978-0962765988
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,183,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Law V. Life: What Lawyers Are Afraid to Say About the Legal Profession 1st Edition
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"Bachman's book is not one of these sickeningly-sweet remembrances where all client problems are blamed on the lawyer's lack of noble purpose. Clients, too, are unmasked for their contribution to legal stress." -- Lawyers Weekly USA, August 14, 1995
"Clear-sighted, humanistic evaluation of the way lawyers have allowed the profession to evolve and what it is doing to their lives. Engrossingly written: it may not change anything, but it does ring bells." -- National Law Journal, August 7, 1995
"[A] wonderfully pungent commentary on the inner workings of our contemporary legal system. Through it all, Bachman is decidedly unafraid to say precisely what he is thinking. To wit: "Law is the only learned profession in which one is ethically obliged to hurt people"; "The more able and experienced a lawyer, the greater the chance that he or she will achieve a miscarriage of justice"; and "Aspiring lawyers raised in psychologically healthy families face more obstacles in law and their careers than those raised in dysfunctional families." Such observations, when isolated for the purpose of illustration, may sound cynical or severe, but Bachman's capacity for insight resides in the empathy he brings to attorneys who are forced to deal with moral and ethical dilemmas on a daily basis." -- DC Bar Report, June/July, 1995
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The book is quick to dispel the glamorized image of lawyers in the media. Bachman claims the nature of the job to be highly stressful, in part because of excessive hours but even more because of the burden of being responsible for the fate of another. There's a vivid parable about a science experiment with several pairs of monkeys, in which only one of them had the ability to stop a painful electrical shock that affected them both. At one point, the scientists took away the control but the sense of responsibility remained, eventually causing all the "control" monkeys to die from stress.
Another major lesson is that morals, as defined by most of the population, have no place in the world of law. Your role is that of a moral mercenary, representing any client that comes your way no matter how reprehensible. Worse, arguing strategy is less about the battle of truths, and more about discrediting and attacking your opponent, humiliating and exploiting witnesses, or in some cases, simply prolonging the process so that the other side won't bother to fight. He also warns that the effects of all this often spill over into a lawyer's personal life, often jeopardizing personal relationships. Finally, he makes a precise claim that more than 40% of clients are complete "assholes" -- and since they usually seek like-minded lawyers, it drives the demand for regular, balanced lawyers even further.
Other complaints: the work is far more boring that it seems. Supposedly, most lawyers spend most of their days working out the minutiae in boring paperwork, and it's rare to see a trial room. Billable hours have become the dominating priority, even higher in importance than quality of work. Also, a disproportionate rise in the number of lawyers since the 70s means there are roughly 1,000,000 lawyers out there today -- way more than the market needs. He tells stories of many un- and under-employed new grads, and tells of the desperation to pay off crippling student debts.
I could go on, but why not just read it for yourself? Heck, it's only 140 pages.
To me, this book did not warrant five stars because I place a higher burden on this author with what he has started here. I feel it is the duty of an author of such intellect and keener, stronger analytical ability than others to take us not further, but deeper, into understanding what this book has the potential to do, what it introduces us to in its 140 pages.
NONETHELESS, this is the kind of book that needs to be written, one which needs to be read BY EVERYONE, NON LAWYERS ALIKE!!!! to better understand ourselves and our present society. Excellent beginning job for Walt Bachman.
I practiced litigation in fairly large New Jersey firms for five years. I didn't read this book until I had been out for a year. I wish I could have read it during my transition out of law practice; it would have saved me a lot of self-doubt, anguish and guilt. Now I recommend it to law students, "pre-law" undergrads, and lawyers. I also assigned it to an upper-level undergrad class I taught recently on law and legal studies.
Buy this book. Read it. Then lend it to someone who needs it.
Bachman reveals some brutal truths, such as "Lesson Seven: 10% of a lawyer's soul dies for every 100 billable hours worked in excess of 1,500 per year" (p.107). I appreciated his earnest approach to quantify, as scientifically as possible, his ideas about problems in the law.
As for others criticisms of this book- that he outlines only the problems and does not present possible solutions- well, that's just too bad. The very fact that he chooses not to is a direct reflection of the severity and fixed nature of these problems.