— From my old blog (ramchandra.me.uk) where it originally published March 2007 —
I think all that’s changed in 10 years is that we’ve since seen familiarised a little with this life through the TV show Suits, yet I still do look back to this novel fondly.
Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As I was in hunt for a rather specific book, as always there was an offer of 3 for 2 at Waterstones & I wasn’t actually sure that the Skin Gods was the one I was after, the guy at the store thought it would be one of two books, the Skin Gods (which it turned out to be) or Shadow Man (which I shall start reading next). So I had a freebie to grab so to speak, this one just sounded fun by its description (above). Being a recent blogger myself, it had appeal on a geek level as well as personal one.
As it turns out, this book is awesome. I’ve now got to the stage where I’ll be trailing through its original source reading all the archives over the next few weeks. I’d recommend reading the book first though, as it has its own self-contained story arc.
The protagonist is the very essence of all of us. The things we all think yet few of us say. In a twisted yet humorous kind of way, he’s someone to look up to. Okay I should probably point out he is fictional, but hey, so is Hannibal Lecter & Eric Cartman & David Hasselhoff, okay maybe not the latter, but we all know how frickin’ cool they are.
Now, funnily enough, it’s a good thing that this guy is fictional because if he was some high flying lawyer he’d probably be pretty screwed. Of all places I read that Waterstones fired someone for having a blog where he vented. The irony that I happen to pick up this book by random chance at the same store, huh??
Not so surprisingly, I can see a lot of parallels between the lawyer’s world and my own, though I’m not in the industry of law, I’m still a part of the Capitalist society that only allows the fittest to thrive and survive, kinda like Spartans in suits — things aren’t so different. Their expectations of unconditional love for the firm, lack of any other commitments in life to the extent of a low tolerance for it.
It may seem to some of you that all the books that I am reading seem to be having top reviews, so I should clarify, if I get through a book, that in itself is an achievement, unlike films, it is quite normal for me to leave a book a few chapters in if I get bored. With this one, I can’t imagine anyone able to do that.
Jeremy Blachman gives us an anonymous lawyer with frustrated rants intwined with plenty a dose of “laugh out loud” humour. I would recommend this book to anyone that has a job, or a boss, or a life (or not).
Meet Anonymous Lawyer – corner office, granite desk, and a billable rate of $675 an hour. The summer is about to start, and he’s got a new crop of law school interns who will soon sign away their lives for a six-figure salary at the firm. But he’s also got a few problems that require his attention.
There’s The Jerk, his bitter rival at the firm, who is determined to do whatever it takes to beat him out for the chairman’s job. There’s Anonymous Wife, who is spending his money as fast as he can make it. And there’s that secret blog he’s writing, which is a perverse bit of fun until he gets an e-mail from someone inside the firm who knows he’s its author.
Written in the form of a blog, Anonymous Lawyer is a spectacularly entertaining debut that rips away the bland façade of corporate law and offers a telling glimpse inside a frightening world. Hilarious and fiendishly clever, Jeremy Blachman’s tale of a lawyer who lives a lie and posts the truth is sure to be one of the year’s most talked-about novels.
An excerpt to wet your appetite:
“We start the summer assuming everyone will leave with an offer to return after graduation. It’s yours to lose. It’s hard to lose. But it’s been done before. Don’t make us regret having given you the opportunity to work here. Don’t make us wish you were instead working for the firm down the street, where the lunch allowance is ten dollars lower per person, where the Dodgers tickets are four sections farther from home plate, and where they don’t even have a gym membership subsidy, You’re one of us now. Welcome.”
I then proceeded to the multimedia portion of the presentation.Anytime we can incorporate multimedia into our work it’s always appreciated by those who have to sit through these things. Well, except for the fiasco last year when I showed a clip from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of Will in order to inspire people to pledge their loyalty to the firm in the wake of a series of defections by several star associates.
This year, five film clips. I showed them Collateral so they could see the dangers that await them if they leave the office and start driving around downtown L.A. It’s not safe, especially in the sports cars they’re all blowing their salaries to lease. I showed them Rent to illustrate that while there are indeed 525,600 minutes in a year, the important thing is that every one of those minutes is potentially billable to a client.
I showed them a clip from Brokeback Mountain, which I think was done a tremendous disservice when they pitched it as a gay cowboy movie. I didn’t see it, but it’s fairly clear from the trailer that the point of the movie is that it’s great to have a job that consumes most of your day. “Don’t worry about how much time you spend at the office,” I told them. “You might fall in love with someone you’re working with.” There are far too few movies out there that illustrate the fallacy of work-life balance quite so well.
I showed a clip from March of the Penguins for an example of mindless work performed without complaint. The penguins march back and forth to and from the ocean, a long and arduous march in the cold on which many perish, yet none ever bitch and moan. They just do it. No whining, no trying to sneak out of the pack to find a shortcut, no escaping, no giving up. The penguins walk simply because that’s what they’re supposed to do.
That’s all we’re asking our associates to do. They don’t have to make it more complicated than that. Just march. March to the library. March to the document room. March to the printer. All together now, mindlessly following the herd. That’s all we need. Bodies, not brains. The penguins don’t expect to be challenged. The penguins don’t expect any individual attention. The penguins don’t expect any praise for their work. They just do what they have to do. they march. Finally, I showed a clip from Independence Day to illustrate that sometimes emergencies happen and you have to work over the holiday weekend.
Monday May 15th – Anonymous
Damn you boy! Now I want to buy another book!
I’m a big fan of Anonymous Lawyer, too. I have yet to pick up his book, though, and I’ve meant to for quite some time. A lot of what he says is nonsense, of course, but a lot of what he says about the politics in law firms kind of rings true (which is great advice and warnings for my future career).
If you find anymore books like this, drop me a line.