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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

    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.

  2. 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."

  3. 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.

  4. 4 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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!".

  7. 4 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.

  8. 4 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.

  9. 5 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 4 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.

  12. 4 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.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Taylor

    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.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brianna Miller

    As someone who always dreamed of working in the field of law, I was really excited to receive a copy of this book as part of the #HBsocialclub. Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me. I feel bad even saying this, because this is not a character but a real person - but I found the author to be rather unlikable. She came across as boastful and privileged (She fully acknowledges her privilege, though. I'll give her that.). She did not take law school seriously at all, and while I understand that it w As someone who always dreamed of working in the field of law, I was really excited to receive a copy of this book as part of the #HBsocialclub. Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me. I feel bad even saying this, because this is not a character but a real person - but I found the author to be rather unlikable. She came across as boastful and privileged (She fully acknowledges her privilege, though. I'll give her that.). She did not take law school seriously at all, and while I understand that it wasn't really what she wanted to do, there are many people who are desperate to go to law school (or even college in general) that cannot make it work financially. She had all of her expenses paid for and really seemed to take that for granted. I do respect her for her honesty, however. She was completely open about her apathy towards law school and did not make any excuses for her decisions or behavior. I mean, the book is called "Bad Lawyer", so she's well aware of who she is and is not afraid to share that with the world. I also appreciated getting an inside look at what working in that field is really like, at least in Anna's experience. I do agree with her that many aspects of the law are archaic and in need of change. It was not surprising, but still disheartening, to read about the flaws in our justice system. I'm sure many people experience the things she did and it's good to have someone openly speaking out about those issues. However, she also made some sweeping generalizations that I am certain do not apply to ALL judges or ALL lawyers. There are plenty of people who get into law for the right reasons and use their positions for good. It was also interesting to see that from Anna's perspective, she did not view her clients as guilty (despite the fact that she worked in appeals, meaning all of her clients had been charged with a crime and found guilty). It wasn't that they hadn't broken the law, it's just that she didn't consider their crimes to be worthy of the punishments they received. That's not something I've ever heard from a lawyer before. Even though this was a short read, it was not a quick read for me. I found it dragging and disjointed. I would personally not recommend this book to just anyone. I think other people who work in the field of law would get the most entertainment out of it, and am interested to see if their experiences have mirrored Anna's. Thank you to Hachette Books for the arc of this book.

  15. 4 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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sophia Dyer • bookishly.vintage

    I received a finished copy of this book from Hachette in return for my honest thoughts, thank you! I took a business law class in college and thoroughly enjoyed it, and despite the hard work (and being SO much more work than my other classes), I also had fun and learned a lot too. I even briefly entertained a career in law, or even paralegal. Sadly that was a fleeting dream (I didn't want the extra schooling when I was so close to the end) so I was excited to read this book and see if the interes I received a finished copy of this book from Hachette in return for my honest thoughts, thank you! I took a business law class in college and thoroughly enjoyed it, and despite the hard work (and being SO much more work than my other classes), I also had fun and learned a lot too. I even briefly entertained a career in law, or even paralegal. Sadly that was a fleeting dream (I didn't want the extra schooling when I was so close to the end) so I was excited to read this book and see if the interest is still there. I loved Dorns writing and I was left giggling at times, but also shocked at some of the injustices. She comes out and says she knows people will probably glaze over the "lawyer talk," and even if you do the book is still readable. The second half of the book feels heavier and less light-hearted than the first, but its also a shift away from law and more into the process of getting this book published. The title is fitting for Dorn, who was a bad lawyer and kind of a bad student too. I sometimes feel like I wasted money on college because I don't use my degree (degree in business, work for a florist), but Dorn takes it further and talks like she's proud of getting this degree then not doing anything out of it. I know it's hard to have a career shift after spending so much time and money toward one thing, but it does kind of suck to see it not pan out. This book talks a lot about privilege and injustices in the system, as well as the glaring racism problem across the US. Dorn does make some sweeping generalizations about all lawyers and judges that I feel just aren't true, but not being a lawyer or knowing anyone in the profession means I truly don't know. So, in short, I enjoyed this book but it did kind of sway me from the idea of working in law. I mean, just talking about how people go into law to "make a change" and then end up selling out is a depressing idea, and one Dorn discusses often. It was a quick read and I got through this in no time, but I will probably pass this along for the time being.

  17. 4 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.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    Anna Dorn's brutal honesty is so appealing in this memoir, and gives such a strong sense of authenticity. I loved the perspective that this novel provided that's so unabashed and rare, but also felt like the balance between these moments of dispassion and lack of motivation and her demonstration of her knowledge and skill was really well done. It allows Dorn to get her point across about the pitfalls of law and her less than positive experience with it, while also being honest about her strength Anna Dorn's brutal honesty is so appealing in this memoir, and gives such a strong sense of authenticity. I loved the perspective that this novel provided that's so unabashed and rare, but also felt like the balance between these moments of dispassion and lack of motivation and her demonstration of her knowledge and skill was really well done. It allows Dorn to get her point across about the pitfalls of law and her less than positive experience with it, while also being honest about her strengths. These more positive moments in the novel provide balance and put her accomplishments into perspective rather than continuously brushing off her massive achievments like Berkeley Law and passing the bar. Throughout reading this novel, I kept thinking about how glad I was that Dorn had written this book and shared her perspective and that I had come across it. Even if her experience is far from universal, it gives a really raw glimpse into generally what law school and life after is like, and some of the experiences that one might have in going down that path. Especially evident in the later chapters of the book that become more observational about society, Dorn is incredibly smart and the ideas that she shares in this novel are so interesting. This book is incredibly thought-provoking on a number of fronts from why pursuing law to help people is so difficult, to issues of feminism and race and social justice. Dorn's voice is so prominent in this novel making it much more approachable than a dense non-fiction book tackling the same topics, and the points she raises are too important to be ignored; a must-read for anyone interested in law, or even just curious.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sara K

    I found this to be such an interesting read! However, it is probably not a book for everyone. Anna Dorn’s memoir is all about her experience going to law school (despite not really wanting to be a lawyer) and her brief legal career. She talks about the challenges and flaws in our legal system. Obviously, this was Dorn’s point of view through the process, however I did not agree with everything she had to say. Although not involved in the legal system myself, I am the daughter and wife of two lawy I found this to be such an interesting read! However, it is probably not a book for everyone. Anna Dorn’s memoir is all about her experience going to law school (despite not really wanting to be a lawyer) and her brief legal career. She talks about the challenges and flaws in our legal system. Obviously, this was Dorn’s point of view through the process, however I did not agree with everything she had to say. Although not involved in the legal system myself, I am the daughter and wife of two lawyers. My dad went to law school when I was a teenager, so I clearly remember his experience in law school and it was nothing like what Anna Dorn described. My husband started law school 3 weeks after we got married - and again his experience was drastically different from what was described. The way that Dorn described lawyers, in my opinion, does not accurately describe them all. Maybe I have a bias because of my relationship to lawyers, but I don’t think that is the case. I think that like in everything, there are good and bad people (and parts). If you are interested in the legal system, this gives you insight into one person's experience. It was fascinating to hear her point of view, even though I did not agree with all of it. Thank you to Netgalley and Hachette Books for my advanced reader copy!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anne Hart

    Bad Lawyer: A Memoir of Law and Disorder By Anna Dorn Available May 4, 2021 Publisher: Hachette If the show Gossip Girl and the movie Legally Blonde had a baby it would be the book Bad Lawyer. Anna Dorn calls herself an “overprivileged blonde lesbians addicted to collecting degrees.” She is the daughter of a very successful attorney and money wasn’t an issue for her. Although the premise of her book may be to highlight the inadequacies of the judicial system, she inspires others to watch to change Bad Lawyer: A Memoir of Law and Disorder By Anna Dorn Available May 4, 2021 Publisher: Hachette If the show Gossip Girl and the movie Legally Blonde had a baby it would be the book Bad Lawyer. Anna Dorn calls herself an “overprivileged blonde lesbians addicted to collecting degrees.” She is the daughter of a very successful attorney and money wasn’t an issue for her. Although the premise of her book may be to highlight the inadequacies of the judicial system, she inspires others to watch to change the system. The stories of her juvenile clients which she filed appeals for will break your heart. Although she often cites penal codes and cases, this isn’t an essay designed to actually function as an in-depth critical analysis. In fact all of the exact citations to the penal code, rules for the bar exam and even the few cases mentioned could be cut from the book. What is gritty and real is her elitist gossip about everyone from judges to her own mother. After reading Anna’s innermost thoughts, I’m thankful she isn’t a lawyer anymore. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it! Anna is a great writer so society (or at least us elitist book buying readers) will benefit from her dry sense of humor.

  21. 4 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.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Larry Tressler

    I loved / hated this story. I was expecting to read a lot of funny or weird cases of how the lawyers screwed up. I guess I did, but it was a lot more. The more I got to know Anna, the more I did not like this spoiled, arrogant, entitled student. Ok... she was pretty much expected to be a lawyer because she came from a lawyer family. Her answer was pretty much, yea sure. Her grandmother paid all her expenses, she spent most of her evenings drunk or stoned, and studied barely casually. She had mone I loved / hated this story. I was expecting to read a lot of funny or weird cases of how the lawyers screwed up. I guess I did, but it was a lot more. The more I got to know Anna, the more I did not like this spoiled, arrogant, entitled student. Ok... she was pretty much expected to be a lawyer because she came from a lawyer family. Her answer was pretty much, yea sure. Her grandmother paid all her expenses, she spent most of her evenings drunk or stoned, and studied barely casually. She had money to often fly from coast to coast, and even to foreign countries when she felt like it. She never really applied herself to any project, and she only landed a job when she had a contact on the inside. Must be nice. But she did open my eyes to the law profession. Of how most of the work is just handed down to interns & clerks while the real lawyers take all the credit. It started out light hearted & fun, but got heavy & boring the last third. I didn't like it, but I didn't hate it. Now that I'm done, it will not remain on my bookshelf. I never trusted lawyers, and I still don't.

  23. 5 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.

  24. 4 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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    As a current law student getting ready to graduate and take the Bar Exam this summer, I enjoyed this book so much. Not only could I totally relate to the various experiences Anna encountered, but I also found myself agreeing with a lot of her thoughts on various topics related to the legal field. I laughed out loud several times while reading this and then I also felt her frustrations and fears as well. While her situation is different than mine in many ways, it still was a very interesting read As a current law student getting ready to graduate and take the Bar Exam this summer, I enjoyed this book so much. Not only could I totally relate to the various experiences Anna encountered, but I also found myself agreeing with a lot of her thoughts on various topics related to the legal field. I laughed out loud several times while reading this and then I also felt her frustrations and fears as well. While her situation is different than mine in many ways, it still was a very interesting read because it highlights the flaws in our justice system and just how classist and elitist the entire process of becoming a lawyer can be. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to go to law school or to be an attorney, or if you just want to know what really goes on behind the scenes in the legal field, I highly recommend this book!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Thanks to the publisher for a gifted copy for honest review. This is a quick reading memoir of the author's experience applying for and attending law school and the years she worked in law. It's very irreverent, and Anna Dorn definitely does not portray herself as someone who took the experience too seriously, though she does, at several points throughout the book, acknowledge her privilege in things such as being able to attend school without worrying about the cost and the impact of her whitene Thanks to the publisher for a gifted copy for honest review. This is a quick reading memoir of the author's experience applying for and attending law school and the years she worked in law. It's very irreverent, and Anna Dorn definitely does not portray herself as someone who took the experience too seriously, though she does, at several points throughout the book, acknowledge her privilege in things such as being able to attend school without worrying about the cost and the impact of her whiteness on her relationship with the law. The most serious parts of the book happen when Anna Dorn talks about the clients she worked with and the complicated situations they often unfairly had found themselves in. It's humorous at times while making sure readers know that for all its inanities, law is still complex, even for those who know it well.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    Anna Dorn never really wanted to be a lawyer, but pursued it anyway. This is pretty much the stance as she begins her memoir of excelling in school and wanting to prove, mainly to herself, that she is worthy of what she has been taught is a worthy profession. She describes her anxiety, her dogged determination to succeed, and her successes and failures. She also describes her own coming out, her emerging feminism and how it influenced her opinion of law and government. She evolves into her own a Anna Dorn never really wanted to be a lawyer, but pursued it anyway. This is pretty much the stance as she begins her memoir of excelling in school and wanting to prove, mainly to herself, that she is worthy of what she has been taught is a worthy profession. She describes her anxiety, her dogged determination to succeed, and her successes and failures. She also describes her own coming out, her emerging feminism and how it influenced her opinion of law and government. She evolves into her own as a writer, and decides to focus on that rather than pursuing more prestige in the legal field. A worthy read, for those familiar with legal terms and for those who are interested in how one excels at something they initially have no interest in.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kari

    This is one book that where Author has created a compelling narrative of how many occupations begin just because it is in the family blood as they say. Having parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles already in the same career or business does sometimes entrap their future youth to feel they must fulfill obligations or try not to disappoint their family by following their own dreams. So why not go with the flow and become a lawyer like your dad and so many others in your family; even if it means y This is one book that where Author has created a compelling narrative of how many occupations begin just because it is in the family blood as they say. Having parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles already in the same career or business does sometimes entrap their future youth to feel they must fulfill obligations or try not to disappoint their family by following their own dreams. So why not go with the flow and become a lawyer like your dad and so many others in your family; even if it means you’re going to be a bad one. The Author is downright honest from what she sees, what she does and doesn’t do in her time from beginning law school all the way to the writing of this very book. Be prepared to laugh, be shocked and to anticipate another book like I am. Kudos to Bad Lawyer!

  29. 4 out of 5

    DJ Calvin

    I can’t believe I finished this book. Honestly, I kept waiting for the punchline or the realization of what was wrong and the redemption. Anna Dorn, Anna Dorn’s family and Anna Dorn’s friends are exactly what is wrong with this country. The DC elite and their criminal cabal spanning both coasts. She is every bit of the corruption that she tries to virtual signal away. This is a completely self-servicing book to tell you that she is part of a discussing class of people that are no different than t I can’t believe I finished this book. Honestly, I kept waiting for the punchline or the realization of what was wrong and the redemption. Anna Dorn, Anna Dorn’s family and Anna Dorn’s friends are exactly what is wrong with this country. The DC elite and their criminal cabal spanning both coasts. She is every bit of the corruption that she tries to virtual signal away. This is a completely self-servicing book to tell you that she is part of a discussing class of people that are no different than the Mafia but look I do cool stuff, get hammered and stone at every possible moment and spew social Justise every chance I get so you should give me a pass and agree that I am cool. Without Daddy’s criminal money she wouldn’t last a month.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Donna Boyd

    Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review. Bad Lawyer by Anna Dorn is her story of what being a lawyer is about. She, apparently, had no desire to attend law school but did so to please her parents. She attended Berkeley and seemed to find it fairly easy. It was after graduation when she realized she was going to have to actually practice law that she had her personal "ah ha" momen Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review. Bad Lawyer by Anna Dorn is her story of what being a lawyer is about. She, apparently, had no desire to attend law school but did so to please her parents. She attended Berkeley and seemed to find it fairly easy. It was after graduation when she realized she was going to have to actually practice law that she had her personal "ah ha" moment. It is an interesting book, told from a unique perspective.

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