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Bad Lawyer: A Memoir of Law and Disorder

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Law school was never Anna Dorn's dream. It was a profession pushed on her by her parents, teachers, society... whatever. It's not the worst thing that can happen to a person; as Dorn says, law school was pretty "cushy" and mostly entailed wearing leggings every day to her classes at Berkeley and playing beer pong with her friends at night. The hardest part was imagining wh Law school was never Anna Dorn's dream. It was a profession pushed on her by her parents, teachers, society... whatever. It's not the worst thing that can happen to a person; as Dorn says, law school was pretty "cushy" and mostly entailed wearing leggings every day to her classes at Berkeley and playing beer pong with her friends at night. The hardest part was imagining what it would be like to actually be a lawyer one day. But then she'd think of Glenn Close on Damages and Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, and hoped for the best. After graduation, however, Dorn realized that there was nothing sexy about being a lawyer. Between the unflattering suits, sucking up to old men, and spending her days sequestered in a soul-sucking cubicle, Dorn quickly learned that being a lawyer wasn't everything Hollywood made it out to be. Oh, and she sucked at it. Not because she wasn't smart enough, but because she couldn't get herself to care enough to play by the rules. Bad Lawyer is more than just a memoir of Dorn's experiences as a less-than-stellar lawyer; it's about the less-than-stellar legal reality that exists for all of us in this country, hidden just out of sight. It's about prosecutors lying and filing inane briefs that lack any semblance of logic or reason; it's about defense attorneys sworn to secrecy-until the drinks come out and the stories start flying; and it's about judges who drink in their chambers, sexually harass the younger clerks, and shop on eBay instead of listening to homicide testimony. More than anything, this book aims to counteract the fetishization of the law as a universe based entirely on logic and reason. Exposing everything from law school to law in the media, and drawing on Dorn's personal experiences as well as her journalistic research, Bad Lawyer ultimately provides us with a fresh perspective on our justice system and the people in it, and gives young lawyers advice going forward into the 21st century.


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Law school was never Anna Dorn's dream. It was a profession pushed on her by her parents, teachers, society... whatever. It's not the worst thing that can happen to a person; as Dorn says, law school was pretty "cushy" and mostly entailed wearing leggings every day to her classes at Berkeley and playing beer pong with her friends at night. The hardest part was imagining wh Law school was never Anna Dorn's dream. It was a profession pushed on her by her parents, teachers, society... whatever. It's not the worst thing that can happen to a person; as Dorn says, law school was pretty "cushy" and mostly entailed wearing leggings every day to her classes at Berkeley and playing beer pong with her friends at night. The hardest part was imagining what it would be like to actually be a lawyer one day. But then she'd think of Glenn Close on Damages and Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, and hoped for the best. After graduation, however, Dorn realized that there was nothing sexy about being a lawyer. Between the unflattering suits, sucking up to old men, and spending her days sequestered in a soul-sucking cubicle, Dorn quickly learned that being a lawyer wasn't everything Hollywood made it out to be. Oh, and she sucked at it. Not because she wasn't smart enough, but because she couldn't get herself to care enough to play by the rules. Bad Lawyer is more than just a memoir of Dorn's experiences as a less-than-stellar lawyer; it's about the less-than-stellar legal reality that exists for all of us in this country, hidden just out of sight. It's about prosecutors lying and filing inane briefs that lack any semblance of logic or reason; it's about defense attorneys sworn to secrecy-until the drinks come out and the stories start flying; and it's about judges who drink in their chambers, sexually harass the younger clerks, and shop on eBay instead of listening to homicide testimony. More than anything, this book aims to counteract the fetishization of the law as a universe based entirely on logic and reason. Exposing everything from law school to law in the media, and drawing on Dorn's personal experiences as well as her journalistic research, Bad Lawyer ultimately provides us with a fresh perspective on our justice system and the people in it, and gives young lawyers advice going forward into the 21st century.

30 review for Bad Lawyer: A Memoir of Law and Disorder

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra Needs book recs for potential bf -See update

    The good: the author writes from a strongly feminist point of view, but not a strident one where women are always the victims who must prevail and men are the abusers who are always, always in the wrong if a woman accuses them of anything. I like that. I got really fed up with #Metoo which seemed to turn into a vehicle for D-lister 'celebrities' to get their names in the news and thereby devalued those who were really abused. The author's feminism is tempered by the reality that many of us women The good: the author writes from a strongly feminist point of view, but not a strident one where women are always the victims who must prevail and men are the abusers who are always, always in the wrong if a woman accuses them of anything. I like that. I got really fed up with #Metoo which seemed to turn into a vehicle for D-lister 'celebrities' to get their names in the news and thereby devalued those who were really abused. The author's feminism is tempered by the reality that many of us women do like to wear clothes we think suit us and hair and make up maybe that flatters us, and do not find a compliment on how we look as a sexist microagression but instead it makes us smile. That is a serious point, even if it doesn't sound like it. Women like looking nice, men like looking at women. A TSA-equivalent officer in Cancun looked at my passport and my face and said I looked x years younger (everyone thinks this) and said I was beautiful, before passing on to the next person. Should I have reported him, should he need re-education classes? Was this sexual discrimination? I took it as a compliment, why would I look for offence when none was intended? She also has a real kindness towards the clients she represents on appeal, all of whom but one she says were guilty. And also by wanting to improve the situation for society rather than punish by locking the guilty away. In other words, instead of punishment fitting the crime, looking to see how best the criminal can be prevented from repeating that behaviour. It's never going to happen. The US private criminal system depends, like all capitalist enterprises on growing ever larger. And once a convicted felon, the criminal can never vote. The present prison system replaced slave labour, and that really hasn't changed. It suits America to criminalise and incarcerate vast numbers of black and brown people. Locked up, unpaid labour, unable to vote... and those who would go lynching for sport, having all the justice system people around them refuse to do anything about it, think of Ahmaud Arbery, slavery has ended officially in the US but Blacks are still in a very precarious position. (view spoiler)[One which Obama whom I loved, but now disgusts me (but not as much as Trump and Biden and the useless Kamala) could have really helped but didn't do a damn thing for. After Obama, Trump said to Blacks to get their vote, 'What have you got to lose?' He spoke the truth. (hide spoiler)] . The indifferent. The author rather goes on about her dislike of her career in law and how much she loves writing but really I think she loves the practice of law, it gives her the chance to put into practice that which she writes about. It is a bit tedious to read how people thought she was a fantastic writer and should write this and that, but i understand why it was there, it was her career development. It does however, come across as a bit self-obsessed. The bad. The bad is good! The bad is that the author had so many good ideas that she only half-developed. She's a good writer, she thinks she knows when to stop, and that might work for the articles she writes, but not in a book. It left me feeling very unsatisfied, I wanted to read more, and more depth. If I'd been her editor, I would have told her, forget the career development, it isn't very interesting, and write in more depth about that which burns her and keeps her practicing law and writing from her nuanced feminist viewpoint. It would have been a 5 star book. As it is, 4 star.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    Bad Lawyer: A Memoir of Law and Disorder is Anna Dorn’s memoir about her brief legal career. After reluctantly pursuing then graduating from law school, Dorn realizes she doesn’t like much about the life of a lawyer. It seems she enjoyed the idea of being a lawyer more than actually being one. Parts of this book, especially in the first half, felt braggy (I didn’t even really want to go to law school, it wasn’t that hard, I was pretty cool, etc.) but, Dorn’s story grew on me a little as she even Bad Lawyer: A Memoir of Law and Disorder is Anna Dorn’s memoir about her brief legal career. After reluctantly pursuing then graduating from law school, Dorn realizes she doesn’t like much about the life of a lawyer. It seems she enjoyed the idea of being a lawyer more than actually being one. Parts of this book, especially in the first half, felt braggy (I didn’t even really want to go to law school, it wasn’t that hard, I was pretty cool, etc.) but, Dorn’s story grew on me a little as she eventually grew up — Readers get to see Dorn’s growth, not just as a professional, but as a person in Bad Lawyer. I enjoyed the later chapters more, where she discusses the deeply flawed U.S. criminal justice system and found myself agreeing with many of her observations. I’m not a lawyer but work in this space and was naturally curious when I heard about this book — The type of law you practice, your firm’s culture, and your prior professional life, can be significant factors in your overall experience as/ perception in being a lawyer — 2.5 stars Thank you to Hachette Books, NetGalley, and Bibliostyle for providing an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tao

    "People in my class wanted to save the environment, find housing for the homeless, and provide fair, adequate representation for people with disabilities or those seeking US citizenship. But, for the most part, they all moved on to associate positions in Big Law, defending major corporations accused of poisoning children and things like that. I do not fault them for this. You cannot pay off a $200K debt if your clients are homeless." "People in my class wanted to save the environment, find housing for the homeless, and provide fair, adequate representation for people with disabilities or those seeking US citizenship. But, for the most part, they all moved on to associate positions in Big Law, defending major corporations accused of poisoning children and things like that. I do not fault them for this. You cannot pay off a $200K debt if your clients are homeless."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Hachette Books) in exchange for an honest review. What a wild ride! I’m just about to graduate law school so I thought it was the perfect time to read this book. Even though the author is a white woman from a privileged background and I am an Asian American woman, I still related to her and her experiences becoming disenchanted by the law. I agree with a lot of her issues with the legal profession and system. She went into criminal law, I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Hachette Books) in exchange for an honest review. What a wild ride! I’m just about to graduate law school so I thought it was the perfect time to read this book. Even though the author is a white woman from a privileged background and I am an Asian American woman, I still related to her and her experiences becoming disenchanted by the law. I agree with a lot of her issues with the legal profession and system. She went into criminal law, a field I have no interest in, but I am not surprised by her experiences or her realizations. The legal system is incredibly archaic and it can be frustrating because of that. Even law school itself makes no sense sometimes. She writes in relation to summer jobs, “representatives from all the top law firms in the country came…and interviewed students for their 2Ls summer jobs, which are said to determine the rest of our legal careers. Why? I have no idea. It was just something we all knew and all accepted” (pg. 83). That is a true statement and just highlights how cookie cutter becoming a lawyer can be. I loved how the author explained everything so simply. For example, she explains all the basics of law school in such uncomplicated language. She really provided an in-depth overview of all things law school. She even mentions bar review which was something I was super confused about when I first started law school (I naively thought it was when 3Ls studied for the bar exam, but it’s actually when law students go out to a bar for drinks). If the author needs an idea for another book, she should totally do a “Law School For Dummies” type of book. Her writing style is so accessible (unlike most law books) so even the lay person can understand what she’s saying. This probably stems from her inability to master the Bluebook (another archaic legal gatekeeping tool or as she puts it, “The cursed Bluebook is filled with ways to make the law inaccessible to non lawyers. That’s what the law is all about— making what should be accessible esoteric to keep lawyer salaries high” (pg. 66)). I did feel that the book lost a bit of its steam towards the end. It felt a little lost, like the author didn’t quite know how to end the book. Because of that, the last few chapters were disjointed from the first half of the book. The last chapters dealt with how messed up the criminal justice system is and I felt that those chapters could have been a jumping off point for a whole other book. Overall, I really enjoyed this memoir on the realities of being lawyer. I really recommend this if you are interested in becoming a lawyer. Not everything she says may apply to you, but it does give honest insight into the profession.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Matt Chisling (MattyandtheBooks)

    Thank you to Hachette Books for my gifted copy in exchange for an honest review! BAD LAWYER is Anna Dorn's memoir - a story of a lost millennial soul who did what many privileged, aimless academic types ultimately do... go to law school. For going to law school would keep her high-achieving parents happy, give her somewhere to be on her family dime, and maybe, just maybe, do good for others. For those of you expecting a real life Legally Blonde story, look elsewhere. This is the story of what ha Thank you to Hachette Books for my gifted copy in exchange for an honest review! BAD LAWYER is Anna Dorn's memoir - a story of a lost millennial soul who did what many privileged, aimless academic types ultimately do... go to law school. For going to law school would keep her high-achieving parents happy, give her somewhere to be on her family dime, and maybe, just maybe, do good for others. For those of you expecting a real life Legally Blonde story, look elsewhere. This is the story of what happens when Janis Ian goes to law school. And it's a story told in three blistering, thoughtful, sassy threads. Thread one is Dorn's personal experience applying to law school, graduating from Berkeley, and spending time in the California criminal defense system. As Dorn admits (over and over again), she was not cut out to be a lawyer. This isn't a success story - it's a misfit memoir of someone trying to learn to be cutthroat, buttoned-up, calloused, and professional. And Dorn is none of those things. She openly admits that she's never read a contract. Get ready to question every attorney you've ever paid to protect or defend you. Thread two is Dorn's horrific realization of how messed up the judicial system is. Through firsthand experiences clerking for judges, working the appeals courts, and interning for bigwigs, Dorn exposes just how slow, challenging, frustrating, disappointing, and shocking the world of the law can be. Her recounts of her coworkers and supervisors are at times hilarious - they're also at times depressing. And Thread Three is the journey Dorn goes on to, well, grow the fuck up. It's a story that begins with a bitchy, lazy, closeted pothead and ends with a proud, out, creative, and flourishing writer. A coming-of-age experience that many upper-middle class millennials experience. It's a story about growing up and not just doing what others want, but finding your own voice. I won't pretend like this is some major morality story, but it is charming to see her grow up in the pages of this book. It's an inconsistent read, with some parts really interesting and other's a bit limp. Dorn admits she's not a passionate person when it comes to the law, which is her Achilles' Heel in this book. When she's revved up on a topic, like in her final chapters, this book offers a blistering insight into how messed up law can be. The stuff that's more self-deprecating is a little eye-rolly at times. But there's ultimately a lot to appreciate in this story. A great read for lawyers, my peers who debate law school once a year, and fans of criminal TV shows.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Meg Tippett

    3.5/5 ⭐️: In this memoir, Anna Dorn discusses her life as a lawyer–going to law school and working in CA and D.C., and also her life outside of law school after passing the Bar and looking for jobs. I expected to find my experience in law school incredibly relatable to Anna but I really did not at all. Anna did not find law school super challenging and referred to it as "cushy." I do not think I could ever describe it like that. On the other hand, I really enjoyed reading about someone else's ex 3.5/5 ⭐️: In this memoir, Anna Dorn discusses her life as a lawyer–going to law school and working in CA and D.C., and also her life outside of law school after passing the Bar and looking for jobs. I expected to find my experience in law school incredibly relatable to Anna but I really did not at all. Anna did not find law school super challenging and referred to it as "cushy." I do not think I could ever describe it like that. On the other hand, I really enjoyed reading about someone else's experience in law school and being able to relate (partially) to her stress about exams, fear about the future, and behaviors of her classmates. In the last few chapters, Anna talks more about juvenile crime and shares some anecdotes of cases she has worked on. Some reviewers did not like this, but I did, probably because I had a general idea of what she was talking about compared to a reader who did not attend law school. I have mixed feelings about Chapter 15, but otherwise, I thought this was an interesting book and would recommend to law school friends curious about how other people do law school.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Bad Lawyer is a telling of what someone perceives to be unsexy about their craft. Dorn does this in a relatable, insightful, and often slyly crude way. It makes for a laugh out loud experience, albeit one that does force you to look at how flawed the legal system is regarding race, gender, and other factors. I breezed through this book thinking the entire time about how stuck we often are in positions we have because it’s convenient or because we’re told to. It’s clear Dorn was in that position Bad Lawyer is a telling of what someone perceives to be unsexy about their craft. Dorn does this in a relatable, insightful, and often slyly crude way. It makes for a laugh out loud experience, albeit one that does force you to look at how flawed the legal system is regarding race, gender, and other factors. I breezed through this book thinking the entire time about how stuck we often are in positions we have because it’s convenient or because we’re told to. It’s clear Dorn was in that position and many of us are or have been in our own lives. Dorn is outstanding in her truth telling and her candor. I wouldn’t rate this as I did if I didn’t love so much about her story. I hope it’s as insightful as I believed it was for you. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your calling too?

  8. 4 out of 5

    BooksAmyRead

    I received an advanced copy from Hachette books a while back and only now got around to it and I loved it! As a former lawyer myself, having gone to law school, practiced it for two short years, and then escaped that world, this book resonated with me in every way. Reading Anna's accounts was like being back in that world, sitting with a friend trying to make sense of whatever it was we got ourselves into. Her book is honest, brutally honest in some parts, but in the best possible way. The only I received an advanced copy from Hachette books a while back and only now got around to it and I loved it! As a former lawyer myself, having gone to law school, practiced it for two short years, and then escaped that world, this book resonated with me in every way. Reading Anna's accounts was like being back in that world, sitting with a friend trying to make sense of whatever it was we got ourselves into. Her book is honest, brutally honest in some parts, but in the best possible way. The only way I can describe it is a "fun read about the inside world of lawyers that will make you hate the legal system even more!".

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peter Dyer

    "LA was unhinged and haunting in a way that appealed to me. Everyone seemed to be on the verge of a mental breakdown. I liked that." -Anna Dorn, Bad Lawyer Anna Dorn writes sentences that feel like a refreshing, ice-cold glass of lemonade. I found her book Vagablonde last summer and devoured it during one of the hottest weeks in June, feeling seen by the pop culture references as well as the tart humor that I found on every page. Vagablonde ended up being one of my favorite novels of last year, s "LA was unhinged and haunting in a way that appealed to me. Everyone seemed to be on the verge of a mental breakdown. I liked that." -Anna Dorn, Bad Lawyer Anna Dorn writes sentences that feel like a refreshing, ice-cold glass of lemonade. I found her book Vagablonde last summer and devoured it during one of the hottest weeks in June, feeling seen by the pop culture references as well as the tart humor that I found on every page. Vagablonde ended up being one of my favorite novels of last year, so I was looking forward to reading her memoir Bad Lawyer (which officially releases on May 4th). Dorn's debut memoir did not disappoint. I read it in a couple days, partly because it's a short, page-turning story, but also because Dorn's sentences are just so smooth and easy to read. She's a no-bullshit writer, and a great memoirist. Reading Bad Lawyer feels a night spent sitting at the bar with her, drinking Tequila Sunrises and hearing about her experience as a lawyer as well as her biting cultural commentary. One of the reasons I liked Vagablonde so much was because of how much Dorn's influences were on full display. I could tell that she was a huge fan of a lot of the same music that I am (Lana Del Rey, Yaeji, Grimes) because of how often those artists were name-dropped throughout the story. It was a novel that felt very much like a product of Dorn's influences, and I liked that. Bad Lawyer is similar. While Vagablonde was lightly autobiographical, Bad Lawyer obviously delves more into the underbelly of Dorn's experience at law school, all the way up to passing the California Bar Exam and realizing that she was more meant to write creatively. I also love how much of the 2010s are alive on these pages. On the playlist that accompanies the book, Dorn included one of my favorite songs from 2010, "Pop The Glock" by Uffie. The Myspace feel of that song is present in the scenes in which Dorn describes spending her law school days just smoking weed and watching reality television. It's clear that Anna Dorn, even with all the weed she's smoking, had (and has) her finger on the pulse, always paying attention to her surroundings and the behavior of her particular milieu. Some parts of this memoir lag, but that isn't even Dorn's fault. It's more about who I am as a reader. I liked hearing about Dorn's growth as a character, as well as her opinions. Some of the sections about the bar exam and other more in-depth law topics started to become a bit dull to me, but I had to remind myself that this book was first and foremost about Dorn's experience in law school, and that a little bit of law education should be expected within these pages. I am so glad that Anna Dorn realized that law wasn't for her, and I can't wait for whatever she does next. I'll read anything Dorn writes if her prose continues to be as smooth and addicting as it has been in both Vagablonde and Bad Lawyer.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    The author makes some good points about law school and law practice, but the style is so casual (and riddled with declarations that she hated what she was doing) that I found myself disinterested. The writing style reminds me of Refinery21 even when she is discussing very legitimate complaints about the criminal justice system. This might make the topic more approachable to those not in the legal field, but it is not enjoyable for me. At least it isn’t another book railing against how big corpor The author makes some good points about law school and law practice, but the style is so casual (and riddled with declarations that she hated what she was doing) that I found myself disinterested. The writing style reminds me of Refinery21 even when she is discussing very legitimate complaints about the criminal justice system. This might make the topic more approachable to those not in the legal field, but it is not enjoyable for me. At least it isn’t another book railing against how big corporate firms are prejudiced and sexist and expect crazy hours (of course they do, they are paying you insanely for your time).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    This book got to the point where I needed to finish because it was so short but I wasn't really compelled to. The author is not very likeable and I don't think she cares. The legal stories were interesting. This book got to the point where I needed to finish because it was so short but I wasn't really compelled to. The author is not very likeable and I don't think she cares. The legal stories were interesting.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Thank you to Goodreads Giveaway for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. As a Paralegal myself I really wanted to love this book. However, I end up with mixed feelings. There are parts I loved and then very dull parts. The Good: I absolutely loved Anna's realization of just how unjust the legal system is especially using the comparison of how a white woman is treated with DUI charge. I also really loved her time working in the Superior Court and the crazy anecdotes and behaviors of h Thank you to Goodreads Giveaway for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. As a Paralegal myself I really wanted to love this book. However, I end up with mixed feelings. There are parts I loved and then very dull parts. The Good: I absolutely loved Anna's realization of just how unjust the legal system is especially using the comparison of how a white woman is treated with DUI charge. I also really loved her time working in the Superior Court and the crazy anecdotes and behaviors of her co-workers. The Rihanna joke was hilarious! Her views on how women lawyers are forced to dress/behave/prove themselves are also spot on. The Bad: The book seemed very disjointed and all over the place. I could have done without the tediously boring case law and sample assignments she shared regarding her time at law school. Also at times her privilege and slacker behavior made me roll my eyes in frustration especially considering how hard some people work just to be able to attend college (both academically and financially). In the end, the book was just okay. However, I will pass it along to all of my friends who are lawyers as there are some very funny stories within the book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (Hachette) in exchange for an honest review.* BAD LAWYER is a memoir about the author's brief time spent working in law—her lack of talent for it and conflicted relationship with it—but also the ugly truth of our legal system, one that is not nearly as glamorous as seen on TV. It touches on interesting topics, like racism in our criminal justice system, women in professional life, and how societal expectations (like going to law school as a *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher (Hachette) in exchange for an honest review.* BAD LAWYER is a memoir about the author's brief time spent working in law—her lack of talent for it and conflicted relationship with it—but also the ugly truth of our legal system, one that is not nearly as glamorous as seen on TV. It touches on interesting topics, like racism in our criminal justice system, women in professional life, and how societal expectations (like going to law school as a respectable next step in life) can hold us back. But I have to be honest: I had some real problems with it. The author is simultaneously aware of her privilege but also quite flippant about it. There were also a number of bizarre takes and jokes about sexual assault, domestic abuse, and racial privilege that I really couldn't understand or forgive. They were very hard to read, and I wish I could just erase them (and one entire chapter defending and justifying male sex crimes against women) from the book. It really disturbed me. I liked the intent of this book—to expose the legal system for what it really is—but the execution did not work for me. However, I think aspiring lawyers or anyone interested in how the law really works might enjoy this memoir.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I was so annoyed that Dorn got to go to law school for fun that I put the book down for a few months. Having student loans and making education decisions based on how much money I'll owe has left a sour taste in my mouth. However, I did go back and read the book (it's not her fault someone else financed her education). I learned a lot about law school and the legal system. Much of it I've read before. I found the parts where she was working as an appellate lawyer and for the foundation the most I was so annoyed that Dorn got to go to law school for fun that I put the book down for a few months. Having student loans and making education decisions based on how much money I'll owe has left a sour taste in my mouth. However, I did go back and read the book (it's not her fault someone else financed her education). I learned a lot about law school and the legal system. Much of it I've read before. I found the parts where she was working as an appellate lawyer and for the foundation the most illuminating. Her personal experiences and her professional practices were slightly shocking. I kept thinking of all the money that goes into paying lawyers. The end was a quick prescient overview of what was to come.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    I was looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, however, I quickly realized it was not for me. Little in the writer's experiences as a lawyer or in law school seemed realistic, and the tone of the book was off-putting. Occasionally there were moments of humor, but the book as a whole was disjointed and hard to get through. Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a galley of the book in exchange for an honest review. I was looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, however, I quickly realized it was not for me. Little in the writer's experiences as a lawyer or in law school seemed realistic, and the tone of the book was off-putting. Occasionally there were moments of humor, but the book as a whole was disjointed and hard to get through. Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a galley of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    The parts about the justice system in the 2nd half were a lot more interesting than Anna's time at law school. Definitely an interesting read for folks who work in any capacity with lawyers or the justice system in general. The parts about the justice system in the 2nd half were a lot more interesting than Anna's time at law school. Definitely an interesting read for folks who work in any capacity with lawyers or the justice system in general.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Liz Baldwin

    DNF at chapter 15, where the author does precisely what she rallies against - uses a “good man” (Tao Lin?) to make her “whole” by inspiring her to write this boring book. Writing style (one sentence as a paragraph) is YA.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    Obnoxious

  19. 5 out of 5

    Whitney LaMora

    I was sent BAD LAWYER by Hachette Books as part of their #HBSocialClub! Anna Dorn shares her time in law school and the few years after when she casually practiced law throughout this short memoir. As the title hints, she wasn’t the most skilled or interested lawyer- her sights set instead on launching her writing career. This is where the two meet. I had a Bad Lawyer this past year. Lawyers to me are like capital A Adults and I trusted that this person would handle my case effectively and profes I was sent BAD LAWYER by Hachette Books as part of their #HBSocialClub! Anna Dorn shares her time in law school and the few years after when she casually practiced law throughout this short memoir. As the title hints, she wasn’t the most skilled or interested lawyer- her sights set instead on launching her writing career. This is where the two meet. I had a Bad Lawyer this past year. Lawyers to me are like capital A Adults and I trusted that this person would handle my case effectively and professionally. Instead, they strung me along for the better part of a year - frankly forgetting my case and failing to remedy the situation when I finally questioned it. I wouldn’t be surprised if I looked back and Anna Dorn was my lawyer in disguise. Dorn shares how she skated by in law school at Berkeley, mostly skimming material and relying on her natural organizational skills to drive her through the rest. It was pretty illuminating and a story about law and lawyers that you don’t really see - but, of course there are bad ones, right? Of course not all lawyers are like those we see on TV (and hey, even a good lot of them are also problematic). I couldn’t quite connect with the cadence of Dorn’s tale. The book starts out light hearted and fun, I wanted to love and hang out with this stoner law student on a journey of coming out and figuring her way into the world. But, as the book went on, Dorn boldly puts a finger on her privilege then shrugs it off. Wants to work hard for underprivileged clients but then shrugs when it doesn’t really happen. Complains about the law and it’s racism, sexism and various other disparities but shrugs because she gets a LOT of creative writing done at work. The last couple of chapters feel different in tone and highlight facts and disparities that make one feel like she’s really putting her foot down on the LAW, but really these are essays she wrote while approaching publishing the book. The rest that was back filled was mostly us being convinced how flippant she was about the whole process and how being a lawyer was, like, totally not for her. I’d love to hear others perspective on her story. While the book isn’t published until May, I have this ARC to pass on to anyone who might be interested. Share the story with a lawyer in your life and see their reaction. It’ll be a funny little experiment, just like playing with the law was to Anna Dorn.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gene Killian

    A brilliant and engaging memoir from a former criminal defense lawyer I was looking forward to this book when I first read about it. It did not disappoint. To begin with, Anna Dorn is an excellent, engaging, unpretentious writer. And, as a self-confessed introvert, her self-analysis spills onto the page in an very absorbing way. Finally, she has a sharp sense of humor. I finished the book in a day. She very effectively skewers the legal system (where I have toiled for the past 36 years), and the b A brilliant and engaging memoir from a former criminal defense lawyer I was looking forward to this book when I first read about it. It did not disappoint. To begin with, Anna Dorn is an excellent, engaging, unpretentious writer. And, as a self-confessed introvert, her self-analysis spills onto the page in an very absorbing way. Finally, she has a sharp sense of humor. I finished the book in a day. She very effectively skewers the legal system (where I have toiled for the past 36 years), and the boringness of Old White Guys (Hey! I AM one!). She is so right about so many things. I work on the civil side (I mostly sue insurance companies on denied claims for coverage), but the fact that the system only really works for the monied class is equally obvious and shameful. If you don’t have money, or access to it, going to court can be a disaster. She fought with Government on behalf of indigent clients. I fight with insurance companies for clients whose houses have burned down (for example). It’s highly frustrating. She also caused me to re-live my unhappy law school days. I made some good friends there, but law school is basically ridiculous. They should call it law professor school. It’s crushingly expensive and teaches very few real-world skills. The only thing that saved me from continued professional unhappiness was starting my own firm in 1995 so I could do things my way and get away from the stifling atmosphere of Big Law. At one point in the book, the flirts with that idea. But I’m glad she didn’t do it, because her calling is as a writer, and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. I felt badly for her through a lot of the book. She seemed miserable (as many lawyers are). But now that she’s doing what she likes (writing for a living), the book ended on an upbeat note. I highly recommend this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    M Moore

    I was drawn to this book because of the title. I was raised by a lawyer and now I'm married to a lawyer. I experienced law school as the child of and then the wife of a law student. I expected a book of some anecdotes, realizations and truths about law school and the legal system. But what I read was a frivolous account of privilege and sweeping generalizations. While I appreciate that Anna does bring attention to the injustices of our legal system and makes efforts to recognize her own white pr I was drawn to this book because of the title. I was raised by a lawyer and now I'm married to a lawyer. I experienced law school as the child of and then the wife of a law student. I expected a book of some anecdotes, realizations and truths about law school and the legal system. But what I read was a frivolous account of privilege and sweeping generalizations. While I appreciate that Anna does bring attention to the injustices of our legal system and makes efforts to recognize her own white privilege, she cancels out any progress made with her complete lack of awareness and efforts to justify her laziness and apathy for the legal field. I could appreciate this memoir more if it focused only on her experiences and perspective but instead she makes broad assumptions and statements about a system that, yes is very flawed, but does not recognize that the system also includes passionate, driven and committed lawyers and judges who see the law as their life's calling to "change the world" not just a way to pass the time or fulfill a privileged family legacy. Thank you to @bibliolifestyle and @hachettebooks for this ARC. Bad Lawyer is available May 4.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kat's Book Club

    As a lawyer myself (albeit one who genuinely loves being a lawyer!), I was particularly excited to receive an ARC copy of “Bad Lawyer” by Anna Dorn. Unfortunately, I thought this memoir was a mediocre read overall. In particular, Dorn’s account of her law school experience felt a little overprivileged, boastful and frankly unrelateable (e.g. my law school experience was by no means “cushy” - it was hard work!). While I appreciated Dorn’s at times subversive insights into the flaws of the justice As a lawyer myself (albeit one who genuinely loves being a lawyer!), I was particularly excited to receive an ARC copy of “Bad Lawyer” by Anna Dorn. Unfortunately, I thought this memoir was a mediocre read overall. In particular, Dorn’s account of her law school experience felt a little overprivileged, boastful and frankly unrelateable (e.g. my law school experience was by no means “cushy” - it was hard work!). While I appreciated Dorn’s at times subversive insights into the flaws of the justice system, legal profession and its constituents, I felt that some of her comments (particularly about lawyers and judges) were sweeping generalizations, comedic exaggerations or uncomfortably gossipy. That said, I kept reading all the way to the end because I did enjoy Dorn’s writing style - law may not have been for Dorn but it seems like writing is! She published a novel last year (Vagablonde) and I may add it to my "to be read" list. Thank you NetGalley and Hachette Books for this ARC copy of “Bad Lawyer” - this book comes out on May 4, 2021.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Janette Davis

    I have mixed feelings about this book. I do want to start off by saying I think Anna Dorn is a good writer who has a lot of potential, and I'm definitely interested in whatever she writes next--or checking out her column. Unfortunately, the "back story" part of her memoir just feels lacking. She does make up for this with personality and wit, but it's lackluster and uninteresting. However, she really comes into her own at the end of her novel talking about law and the flaws of the criminal justi I have mixed feelings about this book. I do want to start off by saying I think Anna Dorn is a good writer who has a lot of potential, and I'm definitely interested in whatever she writes next--or checking out her column. Unfortunately, the "back story" part of her memoir just feels lacking. She does make up for this with personality and wit, but it's lackluster and uninteresting. However, she really comes into her own at the end of her novel talking about law and the flaws of the criminal justice system. I could read her critiques all day. But there's too much of the former, not enough of the latter, and it's a very uneven experience. But I also really think if Anna Dorn keeps writing she will produce something quite special. Where ever she goes from here, I will be following.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    One of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. I will say though, if you’re not someone who appreciates seriously dry, self-depricating humor, you may not be the audience for this one. I knew almost nothing about the legal profession before reading this, but Anna does an excellent job at explaining lawyer lingo in a way that’s digestable for the average person. The stories Anna tells about her experiences in law school and her career afterward are not for the faint of heart, but if you love One of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. I will say though, if you’re not someone who appreciates seriously dry, self-depricating humor, you may not be the audience for this one. I knew almost nothing about the legal profession before reading this, but Anna does an excellent job at explaining lawyer lingo in a way that’s digestable for the average person. The stories Anna tells about her experiences in law school and her career afterward are not for the faint of heart, but if you love juicy memoirs filled with bad behavior and spilt tea, definitely check this one out.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katie Petrosyan

    She wrote that the California bar exam eliminated the performance part of the bar exam, this isn’t true. Her tone of pretension was extremely hard to ignore. As someone who has gone to law school and taken the bar exam I felt she generalizes so much. Yes, it might be easy for some people but it’s not for others. I kept hoping she failed the bar just so something wouldn’t be as easy for her. I didn’t like her stuck up personality. I wanted to like her because she wrote very well and was right abo She wrote that the California bar exam eliminated the performance part of the bar exam, this isn’t true. Her tone of pretension was extremely hard to ignore. As someone who has gone to law school and taken the bar exam I felt she generalizes so much. Yes, it might be easy for some people but it’s not for others. I kept hoping she failed the bar just so something wouldn’t be as easy for her. I didn’t like her stuck up personality. I wanted to like her because she wrote very well and was right about a lot of issues regarding the legal field. But she was so judgmental of everyone!!

  26. 4 out of 5

    M

    This book is what white privilege, elitism, failing upward, and a heavy dose of self-adulation (though the author “attempts” to temper it) looks like. I received a free copy of this book from Hachette Go.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Veronica Patrice

    I loved this book! There were times, especially at the beginning of the book, where I thought the author was trying too hard to be funny. But, then I really got into the book. I liked how the author recognizes that there are a lot of nuances when it comes to if a person is innocent or guilty.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    This book made me realize I have never had an original thought.

  29. 5 out of 5

    J.

    Thank you to both #NetGalley and Hachette Books for providing me an advance copy of Anna Dorn’s memoir, Bad Lawyer, in exchange for an honest review. Let me preface this by saying that I am a lawyer, so my review might be skewed simply because I can commiserate with many of the thoughts and experiences one has when embarking on a career in law. #BadLawyer is not your typical memoir. It is a combination of an autobiography and think piece, with elements of a memoir woven throughout each chapter. O Thank you to both #NetGalley and Hachette Books for providing me an advance copy of Anna Dorn’s memoir, Bad Lawyer, in exchange for an honest review. Let me preface this by saying that I am a lawyer, so my review might be skewed simply because I can commiserate with many of the thoughts and experiences one has when embarking on a career in law. #BadLawyer is not your typical memoir. It is a combination of an autobiography and think piece, with elements of a memoir woven throughout each chapter. One could also label it as humor, a career guide, or working thesis. In other words, the book extends beyond the bounds of a single genre. Not sure if this was done intentionally by the publisher to reach a wider audience or if the author initially wrote two separate books, then decided to consolidate them into one. Regardless, the first portion focuses on the author’s childhood and her journey to law school. These chapters contain some of the funniest moments in the novel. The author discusses what it was like growing up in D.C., surrounded by a family and district full of practicing lawyers. By chapter four, we have graduated to law school. Although the book still maintains some levity at this point, her explanations of law students, law school, and the bar exam gave me horrific flashbacks. I literally cringed reading the torts hypothetical, but howled with laughter when she describes choosing extracurriculars in law school. Also, there is absolutely no experience like taking the bar exam. None. I refuse to engage with comments about the CPA or medical school exams because law students are simply a different breed of neurotic. Period. Moving on, once the reader reaches the chapter entitled, Death Penalty Clinic, that is when the book starts to pull on some of the statistics the author noted earlier and transitions into a think piece. While many of the issues will already be familiar to those who work in the legal field, follow current events, and/or have personal experience with our justice system, those who do not can learn a lot from the remainder of the novel. The issues the author raises have been around for far too long. For the most part, I agree with nearly everything she said concerning the justice system, the law, and the legal profession. As citizens, we need to continue illuminating the inherent problems of the U.S. legal system. The first step to reversing or resolving them is by keeping the public informed. The less educated the public is about them, the less likely that things will change. When I first finished #BadLawyer, I immediately thought it was written for a niche audience and that only lawyers, law students, and pre-law students would appreciate it. After sleeping on it, I realized that the second half of the book holds value for a much wider audience. Though it may be uncomfortable for some to read about topics like domestic violence and juveniles sentenced for life without parole (or worse), it is important that you don’t look away because therein lies part of the problem.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elliot J.

    This review will prove it is possible to give a good review of a book which is all about the author while simultaneously loathing and reviling the author. BAD LAWYER is a quite good read and deals with all the stuff other reviewers will delineate. It provides in a well-written, interesting narrative of applying to law school, going to (a very good, high-rated) law school, practicing briefly criminal public defender appellate law plus a few part-time gigs while never working one day as a private This review will prove it is possible to give a good review of a book which is all about the author while simultaneously loathing and reviling the author. BAD LAWYER is a quite good read and deals with all the stuff other reviewers will delineate. It provides in a well-written, interesting narrative of applying to law school, going to (a very good, high-rated) law school, practicing briefly criminal public defender appellate law plus a few part-time gigs while never working one day as a private practice lawyer. The author is obviously very smart: top undergrad grades; admitted to UC Berkeley Law (and 3 other very good law schools but failed to make Stanford); found the bar exam a lot of work but not all that difficult. Ms. Dorn who is a bad lawyer, bad woman, bad American, bad human being, certainly has brains. And that is all she has. Because she is also through her own admission all of the following: a communist; a person who is sexually deviant and not because she happens to be gay; a slacker frequently lazy; a dope addict (she's living proof some people CAN be addicted to marijuana-and she took plenty of other totally illegal drugs too-and still does probably). She has been a mental patient on and off since adolescence (the therapy didn't do any good, Anna), an egotist of staggering proportions, an ingrate who displays utter contempt for her rich, successful parents (and grandma who paid the $200,000+ cost of her legal education) who never ceased supporting her (she lived at home till her late 20's), a total man-hating lesbian who has slept with numerous men all of whom she has, as she has for most people, total contempt and disdain (she describes the male orgasm and genitalia as revolting), a woman with hatred for all white people unless they're raging radical leftists like herself, someone who believes all black criminals should be free to commit crimes without punishment as long, hopefully, the victims are white...well, you get the point. Not once in this entire book does she ever express the word "love" - just endless contempt, arrogance, and intense dislike to everyone not like herself..not to mention her utter revulsion toward our very country and system of governance and society. She was a misfitted misanthrope as a teen and she is today--and by the way she is NO LONGER A LAWYER having refused to pay bar dues. NEVERTHELESS, this is a GOOD BOOK and I definitely recommend it..that it's written by some kind of freakish malcontent without any redeeming virtues is irrelevant. How's that for fairness?

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