Anarchy and Elegance: Confessions of a Journalist at Yale Law School

Chris Goodrich, Author Little Brown and Company $19.95 (285p) ISBN 978-0-316-32027-6
Early on in this passionate, highly lucid account of a year in law school, the author remarks on a carving above an entrance to the Law School complex: ``It showed a student collapsed from too much drink, spiders wrapping him in webs.'' The image of the web--like the law, embodying an outward pattern of elegance but hiding a kind of anarchy within--will recur. Indeed, it is a strength of the writing that the law--which otherwise might not seem the most compelling of subjects for a general readership--catches both author and reader in its web. We follow Goodrich, a journalist and PW contributing editor, through the paces of an American legal education administered by famous Yale professors. We are made to understand, both intellectually and viscerally, how the process changes one's way of thinking, and how that in turn causes profound, often disturbing changes in one's relations with others. Painful personal details are not spared. At the same time, we see the fascination of the law, its deep intellectual challenge and the power that it can confer on those who have mastered its mysteries. This book should be essential, cautionary reading for budding lawyers. It will make some practicing attorneys angry, but will be therapeutic for others. For the layperson, it is a reminder of how much of our lives is influenced by a deep structure of legal thinking. More than that, however, this book is about the truth of ideals and emotions--a kind of truth that the web of law all too often obscures. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
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