2013 • $22.00 • 194 pp • paper
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Popular culture usually portrays the life of a junior associate in one of America’s elite law firms—collectively Biglaw—either as a glamorous and lucrative (if morally dubious) adventure, or as a hellish immersion in mind-numbing servitude to psychotic senior partners, while the available advice books on being an associate usually give little insight into what Biglaw practice is really like, or why it is the way it is. In this book, Sarah Powell (herself a veteran of Biglaw associate life) gives a clear-eyed, intensely personal, and at the same time institutionally sophisticated account of what associates experience and why. Rather than being random and inexplicable, the unrelenting demands and intense hierarchy to which elite firms subject their junior lawyers are inextricably linked to the firms’ chief claim to their prestige and their enormous incomes—the sometimes explicit boast that Biglaw can handle any legal issue, at any time, with superb competence and matchless speed. Powell provides the reader a unique window onto an associate’s day-by-day life in an elite firm, while showing how the details make a harrowing kind of sense in the light of these firms’ structure and modes of operation. Neither an expose nor a whitewash, her book employs telling anecdotes and savvy advice in crafting an informed and intensely practical guide to survival as an associate in Biglaw. But her insights into elite law practice will be of equal interest to anyone seeking to understand one of our society’s most powerful institutions.
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