cover image At the Bar: The Passions and Peccadilloes of American Lawyers

At the Bar: The Passions and Peccadilloes of American Lawyers

David Margolick, Author, Elliott Banfield, Illustrator Simon & Schuster $22.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-671-88787-2

From 1987 to 1994, Margolick, a lawyer turned reporter, explored the American legal system for the New York Times from just about every angle. This he did with considerable skill, wit and an elegant turn of phrase that bordered ever so slightly on preciosity. These legal brief-length pieces focus less on the gliterati of the legal world-although, yes, the ubiquitous Alan Dershowitz is here-and more on the unusual: an overlooked nugget of trivia, a question of ethics. The collection includes 120 of Margolick's best weekly efforts and several new essays. Arranging the collection anachronistically into 12 chapters with headings such as ``The Feminization of the Law'' allows the reader to place chronologically isolated columns into a wider, social context. The increase in the number of women partners at big firms, for example, is noted in a 1988 profile, and again in 1992. Nearly all of the pieces entertain, especially selections from the ``Nooks and Crannies'' chapter. At the Bar is the perfect reading companion for those who by circumstance, or desire, have short attention spans, or just a plain lust for the law. Illustrated. (Apr.)