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One L

by Scott Turow

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2102613,795 (3.56)30
One L, Scott Turow's journal of his first year at law school was a bestseller when it was first published in 1977, and has gone on to become a virtual bible for prospective law students. Not only does it introduce with remarkable clarity the ideas and issues that are the stuff of legal education; it brings alive the anxiety and competitiveness - with others and, even more, with oneself - that set the tone in this crucible of character building. Turow's multidimensional delving into his protagonists' psyches and his marvellous gift for suspense prefigure the achievements of his bestselling first novel, Presumed Innocent. Each September, a new crop of students enter Harvard Law School to begin an intense, often gruelling, sometimes harrowing year of introduction to the law. Turow's group of One Ls are fresh, bright, ambitious, and more than a little daunting. Even more impressive are the faculty: Perini, the dazzling, combative professor of contracts, who presents himself as the students' antagonist in their struggle to master his subject; Zechman, the reserved professor of torts who seems so indecisive the students fear he cannot teach; and Nicky Morris, a young, appealing man who stressed the humanistic aspects of law. Will the One Ls survive? Will they excel? Will they make the Law Review, the outward and visible sign of success in this ultra-conservative microcosm? With remarkable insight into both his fellows and himself, Turow leads us through the ups and downs, the small triumphs and tragedies of the year, in an absorbing and thought-provoking narrative that teaches the reader not only about law school and the law but about the human beings who make them what they are.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Scott Turow’s engrossing account of his first year at Harvard Law School. It is told in chronological order from first class to finals. There is a lot of drama in the competitiveness of the students - both the desire to support each other but also deal with pressure of grades, and the potential ramifications (Law Review, hiring decisions, etc.) Turow went to Harvard in the mid-1970s, so there have likely been changes since then, but he definitely has opinions on areas for improvement and the lack of effectiveness of the Socratic method. I am impressed by the author’s ability to work his magic on what could have been dry material. It is far from it. I flew through this book. I wish Turow would write more non-fiction. He has a knack for it. I enjoyed this even more than his fiction. ( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
I was a little surprised at how much I enjoyed this memoir - but I guess a great writer like Scott Turow can turn even dry material like "my life at law school" into a true story with plot twists and tension.

I listened to the audio and really enjoyed this book ( )
  sriddell | Aug 6, 2022 |
Book on CD read by Holter Graham
3.5***

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

Turow wrote this memoir just after his first year of law school, and it was published before he had graduated. It has, apparently, become a “must-read” for those contemplating going to law school, and Turow gets many letters each year from readers who strongly identify with the incidents he relates.

I was very interested in the psychology of his experience. The stress – both external and self-imposed – was palpable. Turow and his fellow students found themselves in a completely different setting. All high-achievers when they arrived they were thrown into a competitive atmosphere where they felt pitted against one another, with the result that many of them began to seriously doubt themselves and became suspicious of their colleagues.

Holter Graham does a fine job of the audiobook, which was produced in 2005, some 28 years after the original book came out. This anniversary edition included additional material from Turow, which he read himself. Also, there was a bonus interview with the author that was quite interesting. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jul 13, 2022 |
I was interested in this book because I'm not ever going to law school and the first-person perspective is the closest-thing I'll have. I am interested in different methods of instruction, so this brief look at the Socratic method (in 1977 from the student's perspective) was enlightening. The rest of the book was sort of heavy going, as Turow complains about everything that happened. He's honest about his bad behavior, though. ( )
  Pferdina | Jul 5, 2020 |
Extraordinary heat of the moment memoir of a student taking the first year of law at Harvard University. ( )
  Matt_B | Sep 29, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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For Annette, with love and gratitude and admiration
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They called us "One Ls," and there were 550 of us who came on the third of September to begin our careers in the law.
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One L, Scott Turow's journal of his first year at law school was a bestseller when it was first published in 1977, and has gone on to become a virtual bible for prospective law students. Not only does it introduce with remarkable clarity the ideas and issues that are the stuff of legal education; it brings alive the anxiety and competitiveness - with others and, even more, with oneself - that set the tone in this crucible of character building. Turow's multidimensional delving into his protagonists' psyches and his marvellous gift for suspense prefigure the achievements of his bestselling first novel, Presumed Innocent. Each September, a new crop of students enter Harvard Law School to begin an intense, often gruelling, sometimes harrowing year of introduction to the law. Turow's group of One Ls are fresh, bright, ambitious, and more than a little daunting. Even more impressive are the faculty: Perini, the dazzling, combative professor of contracts, who presents himself as the students' antagonist in their struggle to master his subject; Zechman, the reserved professor of torts who seems so indecisive the students fear he cannot teach; and Nicky Morris, a young, appealing man who stressed the humanistic aspects of law. Will the One Ls survive? Will they excel? Will they make the Law Review, the outward and visible sign of success in this ultra-conservative microcosm? With remarkable insight into both his fellows and himself, Turow leads us through the ups and downs, the small triumphs and tragedies of the year, in an absorbing and thought-provoking narrative that teaches the reader not only about law school and the law but about the human beings who make them what they are.

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