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Paperback One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School Book

ISBN: 0446673781

ISBN13: 9780446673785

One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School

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Book Overview

Becoming a first-year law student--a One L--at the oldest, most esteemed law school in the U. S. threw Scott Turow into a physical, emotional, and intellectual combat zone. An ultimate test by fire of his honesty and principles, in a time of hazings, betrayals, challenges and triumphs--a law school primer.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Could this book have been what saved my marriage? You decide.

My husband was a grad student at Harvard when he came across the book and brought it home. He had taken a Harvard Law class in conjunction with his own concentration, and loved it to the point that he was thinking of applying. Well, he didn't apply in the long run, but I did pick up the book. And goodness, but I'm glad I did. One-L does not just tell you about the first year of law school at Harvard in the mid 70s - it tells you what students at Harvard are thinking, feeling, and experiencing. It talks about stress, peer pressure, teachers who bore, who excite, fascinating classes, horrific encounters, and the like. Turow somehow manages to cram all the highs and lows of a single nine-month period into a single book, and by the end of it I felt that though my husband wasn't at Harvard Law, I understood what he was experiencing himself a thousand times better. And that's a very good thing, because as anyone who's had to put a spouse through any level of higher education can tell you - it SUCKS. Whether or not the details of what Turow experienced matched my husband's daily grind don't matter quite as much as the fact that they both were having the same emotional and physical drain on a regular basis - and understanding this drain was vital to our living happily in a too-crammed apartment on Garden Street. I still recommend this book to the spouses of friends who are going to law or grad school - although I caution the actual student not to read it until they've graduated! I firmly believe that it needs to be required reading for family members who want to better understand what their student is experiencing - there is no better way of describing what life for 1Ls is like than this book.

What law school feels like

While some reviewers have criticized One L as irrelevant to the modern law school experience, they miss its fundamental contribution to the preparation for today's law school. One L continues to sell thirty years later because it is a book about what competition in law school feels like. Thus, it matters not whether the events portrayed in One L are real or whether today's law students experience the same teaching style as Turow did at Harvard in the 1970s. Competition still reigns supreme. An excellent comparative read with One L is Scott Gaille's 2002 fictional account of "hidden" competition at the University of Chicago in The Law Review. Both books make the reader feel the vital competition that still defines the law school experience, albeit in different eras. Reading these two books is better preparation for law school than any of the "how to succeed in law school" volumes. To the extent books like One L and The Law Review romanticize law school competition, so be it. The feelings they capture are real.

Takes a look at the good and bad of Harvard Law School

To the outside observer, law school is extremely difficult, and Harvard Law School is the epitome of the educational experience. However, Turow breaks down law school as well as the stigma of HLS. In "One L," a superbly written account of his first year in law school, Turow gives us a behind-the-scenes account of what it means to be in law school at HLS. To be perfectly honest with you, the alarmingly real account will serve to scare some readers, as it did to me. I am preparing to enter law school at a smaller, more student-focused school, but his book had me second-guessing whether or not I was capable of the law school experience. Yet I found myself engrossed and eager to experience the instances about which Turow wrote. The transformation that he endures throughout law school is something I cannot honestly picture within myself. Then again, neither could Turow. Dedicating yourself so deeply to the study and comprehension of law is unreal, and he says you are almost unrecognizable to yourself when you look back. When he was awaiting his grades, I felt the same nervous anticipation that he described. He talks of the faults of Harvard Law and law school in general, and he is in no way idealistic or presents an image of grandeur when it comes to the practice. He makes his own suggestions for the improvement of educating lawyers, but unfortunately recognizes the static aspects of the profession. He does not address the issue of whether an individual should attend law school or not, so if you're looking to "One L" for answers to that question, you will just have to read the book, consider his experience, and decide for yourself. Nor does he assist you in making the crucial decision of where to go to law school, for which I was hoping he'd offer a small tidbit of advice. I guess when you are accepted at Harvard, the choice isn't a very hard one. Toward the end, in the "reflection" of the book and the experiences it describes, Turow doesn't paint law as a particularly rewarding profession, but more as a struggle with doing well and doing good. Although I found the book leaning toward the pessimistic side, I think that is to be expected. Turow will make you understand it. For anyone who has considered going into law, this book is essential.

Read this prior to your first yeat at any school!

Scott Turow's first book is a true inspiration to those who are entering law school or any school for that matter. A true account of his first year as a Harvard Law student, Turow explains how he narrowly escaped a nervous breakdown from studying so hard. As a Harvard alum myself, Turow's description of life in Cambridge is exact in every detail. A friend of mine was a classmate of Turow's and his character is actually mentioned in the book. He confirmed what their first year was like and praised Turow for such an accurate account. If reading about students studying all day and all night motivates you to get better grades..since that is all that matters at most schools, then this book is for you. If you are entering undergraduate or graduate studies to slack off and disapear from society for several years, don't read this book. It would really depress you.
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