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The story—part memoir, part hard-hitting expose—of a first-year law associate negotiating the arduous path through a system designed to break those who enter it before it makes them. Landing a job at a prestigious L.A. law firm, complete with a six figure income, signaled the beginning of the good life for Ian Graham. But the harsh reality of life as an associate quickly b The story—part memoir, part hard-hitting expose—of a first-year law associate negotiating the arduous path through a system designed to break those who enter it before it makes them. Landing a job at a prestigious L.A. law firm, complete with a six figure income, signaled the beginning of the good life for Ian Graham. But the harsh reality of life as an associate quickly became evident. The work was grueling and boring, the days were impossibly long, and Graham’s sole purpose was to rack up billable hours. But when he took an unpaid pro bono case to escape the drudgery, Graham found the meaning in his work that he’d been looking for. As he worked to free Mario Rocha, a gifted young Latino who had been wrongly convicted at 16 and sentenced to life without parole, the shocking contrast between the greed and hypocrisy of law firm life and Mario’s desperate struggle for freedom led Graham to look long and hard at his future as a corporate lawyer.Clear-eyed and moving, written with the drama and speed of a John Grisham novel and the personal appeal of Scott Turow’s account of his law school years, Unbillable Hours is an arresting personal story with implications for all of us.


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The story—part memoir, part hard-hitting expose—of a first-year law associate negotiating the arduous path through a system designed to break those who enter it before it makes them. Landing a job at a prestigious L.A. law firm, complete with a six figure income, signaled the beginning of the good life for Ian Graham. But the harsh reality of life as an associate quickly b The story—part memoir, part hard-hitting expose—of a first-year law associate negotiating the arduous path through a system designed to break those who enter it before it makes them. Landing a job at a prestigious L.A. law firm, complete with a six figure income, signaled the beginning of the good life for Ian Graham. But the harsh reality of life as an associate quickly became evident. The work was grueling and boring, the days were impossibly long, and Graham’s sole purpose was to rack up billable hours. But when he took an unpaid pro bono case to escape the drudgery, Graham found the meaning in his work that he’d been looking for. As he worked to free Mario Rocha, a gifted young Latino who had been wrongly convicted at 16 and sentenced to life without parole, the shocking contrast between the greed and hypocrisy of law firm life and Mario’s desperate struggle for freedom led Graham to look long and hard at his future as a corporate lawyer.Clear-eyed and moving, written with the drama and speed of a John Grisham novel and the personal appeal of Scott Turow’s account of his law school years, Unbillable Hours is an arresting personal story with implications for all of us.

30 review for Unbillable Hours: A True Story

  1. 5 out of 5

    Malissa

    I read this because it's being considered for a program by a committee I'm a part of, and to be honest, I wouldn't have read it otherwise. 1. it's non-fiction which just isn't my thing and 2. it's about law practice which I know nothing about. But I read it. And I ended up liking it quite a bit. I can't say that it reads *just* like fiction, but it is very readable (only took me about two days) narrative non-fiction and is in some ways a true legal thriller. It's about a young lawyer just out of I read this because it's being considered for a program by a committee I'm a part of, and to be honest, I wouldn't have read it otherwise. 1. it's non-fiction which just isn't my thing and 2. it's about law practice which I know nothing about. But I read it. And I ended up liking it quite a bit. I can't say that it reads *just* like fiction, but it is very readable (only took me about two days) narrative non-fiction and is in some ways a true legal thriller. It's about a young lawyer just out of law school who takes a job with a top large corporate firm and ends up working a pro bono case for a kid who was wrongly (blatantly wrongly) convicted of murder and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole before he was even 18. By the time Ian gets involved in the case, Mario has been in prison for years. So the book is really about Ian's experiences with a large law firm and how he comes to realize that life and practice isn't for him and about Mario's case which is the catalyst for that realization. I thought the book rung true and was a fast read and easy to follow even for someone with no real knowledge about the practice of law or legal terminology. I think the book would have pretty wide appeal for those who enjoy memoirs, narrative non-fiction, and legal thrillers like John Grisom's. I'll also probably pass a copy on to my brother-in-law who's in law school.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nan

    At first the two components of the story, Ian's job with a giant law firm and Mario's unfair imprisonment, seemed jarring and ill-suited to be told in the same book. But actually the similarities are quite organic. I would be hard-pressed to pick the more hellish life, psychological enslavement at Latham and Watkins or physical confinement at Calipatria. And in the end Ian and Mario rescue each other. Unlike most other reviewers, I found the account of Ian's three years as an associate attorney t At first the two components of the story, Ian's job with a giant law firm and Mario's unfair imprisonment, seemed jarring and ill-suited to be told in the same book. But actually the similarities are quite organic. I would be hard-pressed to pick the more hellish life, psychological enslavement at Latham and Watkins or physical confinement at Calipatria. And in the end Ian and Mario rescue each other. Unlike most other reviewers, I found the account of Ian's three years as an associate attorney to be the more interesting of the two. It revealed a world I never dreamed existed, while cases similar to Mario's have been the subject of movies, TV, and books. I did find a little too much repitition, as when the author twice on the same page explained the purpose of a letter he wrote. And then later in the book he explained it again. In general, it was an interesting read, and I'm looking forward to the discussion at my book club.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I liked this book. Interesting story about life of an attorney as he is in law school and his first 5 years after law school at a big law firm, and the story of a pro bono case he worked on. The author does a good job giving you a sense of the work load and expectations of a big firm.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Siran

    Powerful, honest, emotional, and not without humor. I am deeply moved and shaken to the core. I was gifted this book due to a law school side gig i took up. The purpose was to help me familiarize with the entire world of law.. just a bit. Contrary to my dread, the book was amazingly easy to read. What a great story teller, Ian is. ...I raced through the last few chapters, and eventually broke down to tears in my room. This is another world that I’ve never seen before, but because of the compellin Powerful, honest, emotional, and not without humor. I am deeply moved and shaken to the core. I was gifted this book due to a law school side gig i took up. The purpose was to help me familiarize with the entire world of law.. just a bit. Contrary to my dread, the book was amazingly easy to read. What a great story teller, Ian is. ...I raced through the last few chapters, and eventually broke down to tears in my room. This is another world that I’ve never seen before, but because of the compelling writing, I know exactly how it must have felt throughout the lengthy process. “Everything has a purpose. The injustice brought those of us who believe in justice together.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Esme

    I didn't find this book to be that revelatory about the nature of the falsely convicted. Having read others that narrowly focus on just the story of the falsely convicted. Mario's case is just one of many others that the author is working on, and he makes that clear. This book did educate me about was the grinding nature of corporate legal grunt work at a large firm. It sure does take a special kind of person to engage that tedious work for such long hours and give up any sort of personal life. I didn't find this book to be that revelatory about the nature of the falsely convicted. Having read others that narrowly focus on just the story of the falsely convicted. Mario's case is just one of many others that the author is working on, and he makes that clear. This book did educate me about was the grinding nature of corporate legal grunt work at a large firm. It sure does take a special kind of person to engage that tedious work for such long hours and give up any sort of personal life.

  6. 5 out of 5

    William Goldbach

    Wonderful story for it shows good can overcome evil a d sometimes there is justice There is justice in this world even in the judicial system and the innocent are at times exonerated even though they are ready to give up.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Greg McCarthy

    Ian Graham’s debut, Unbillable Hours, is a riveting tale of two young men from different worlds whose lives intersect under the most improbable circumstances. Graham, a college baseball player from a stable and successful family, begins his legal career at the large and powerful Los Angeles law firm of Latham & Watkins earning a six-figure salary and looking forward to working his way into a friendly and inspiring firm culture. He soon discovers that the firm is a sweatshop with well-dressed wor Ian Graham’s debut, Unbillable Hours, is a riveting tale of two young men from different worlds whose lives intersect under the most improbable circumstances. Graham, a college baseball player from a stable and successful family, begins his legal career at the large and powerful Los Angeles law firm of Latham & Watkins earning a six-figure salary and looking forward to working his way into a friendly and inspiring firm culture. He soon discovers that the firm is a sweatshop with well-dressed workers and surly, egocentric managers. Graham pulls back the curtain on life in a big firm, describing all-night briefing sessions and weeks spent carefully cataloging warehouses of documents as billion-dollar companies battle it out over millions of dollars with highly-paid new lawyers as the pawns. Mario Rocha’s life stands in sharp contrast to Graham’s life of wealth and privilege. Raised in East LA by his immigrant single mother, Rocha is smart and artistic, but must avoid the pull of crime and gangs that ensnares so many of his family and friends. Attending a party one night, Rocha watches as gang members square off in a fight that escalates to gunfire and ultimately the shooting death of a young man. Although he is not in a gang, has never owned a gun, and did not participate in the fight, he is accused of murder along with two known gang members. Sloppy legal work by Rocha’s defense attorney and overzealous prosecution by a district attorney lead to a conviction, and Rocha begins a life sentence in a high-security state prison. Engrossed in his work at Latham, Graham is tabbed to assist on Rocha’s case, which the firm has taken on at no charge. His dissatisfaction with the big-firm culture grows steadily, and he thinks often of joining several fellow associates on their way out of the firm. Only Rocha’s case keeps him there. The shocking injustice that must be undone gives Graham purpose in his work, and helps him get through a steady stream of disappointments as their effort to overturn Rocha’s conviction winds slowly though a labyrinth of appeals. Rocha remains positive and upbeat throughout his ordeal, refusing to become bitter about the unfairness of a young life sidetracked. In all likelihood, Graham worked on the case with the feeling that he would use his talents and his position to help someone less fortunate than he; the irony is that Rocha taught Graham more about finding meaning in his career and his life than either man realized. So much of today’s non-fiction is dry and uninteresting—something that simply cannot be said about Unbillable Hours. It actually reads more like a novel, with subtle exploration of character traits of the main players in the story and “can’t put it down” pacing. For lawyers, law students, and anyone else interested in a compelling story artfully told, Ian Graham’s first book should be on the top of the list.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    I rather liked this novel, as evidenced by the four stars. I recall spending the majority of a Friday reading it because I didn't want to take a break to do other things. After reading it, I had a strong urge to be a lawyer, which is saying something. It made me want to work to help other falsely-incarcerated innocent people. That's what a lot of this story is about. Ian (the author is writing about his life) starts the story with him being in law school and being invited to a summer internship a I rather liked this novel, as evidenced by the four stars. I recall spending the majority of a Friday reading it because I didn't want to take a break to do other things. After reading it, I had a strong urge to be a lawyer, which is saying something. It made me want to work to help other falsely-incarcerated innocent people. That's what a lot of this story is about. Ian (the author is writing about his life) starts the story with him being in law school and being invited to a summer internship at a big law firm, ultimately being hired. He then tells about being a new hire at a big firm, etc. etc. and ending up working on a case for Mario who was quite obviously innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. Ian then works through the justice system to free Mario. I read this a while ago, so I don't remember it exactly, but I do know that I learned much more about being a lawyer from reading this book than I ever knew. Ian really tells about all the good things about being a lawyer, all the terrible things about being a lawyer and all the weird things that I hadn't a clue happened. Sure he was telling about lawyering in the '90s, but I can't imagine it has changed all too much in the meantime. The bulk of the story is around the case with Mario. For as boring as the work Ian does sounds, it still really pulls at you. I can't remember exactly how they tell the story of Mario, if it's through flashbacks or Ian reviewing the case, but whatever it was works. I felt for Mario; I wanted it to go right. I cheered for him and Ian when things worked, I groaned when it didn't, etc. etc. It's like that movie about Deep Throat and Watergate with Robert Redford... Nothing particularly action-packed or exciting is going on, but what is happening is portrayed in a way conveying all the tension involved. (All the President's Men. And I'll admit, I haven't actually seen it (though I want to) but I've only ever heard good things about it and the clips I've seen - there's one with Robert Redford on the phone calling people for like five minutes, yet still manages to be super involving - are just great.) There's not too much more specifics that I can write about the book, since it's been a while, but I don't remember anything in the writing or whatnot sticking out as being annoying and I only remember good things about the book, which is a good indication in my mind that it had a lot going for it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    A fascinating read. This is the story of a lawyer who went to make big bucks at a fancy-smancy law firm and ended up disillusioned. He then takes on a pro-bono case of a falsely accused teen who had been convicted of murder. This is an actual true story, although the author admits in the introduction to some modifications. It really reads almost like a novel, without perhaps as many of the classic literary devices. The plot is a little more jumpy than a novel would be, probably because it closel A fascinating read. This is the story of a lawyer who went to make big bucks at a fancy-smancy law firm and ended up disillusioned. He then takes on a pro-bono case of a falsely accused teen who had been convicted of murder. This is an actual true story, although the author admits in the introduction to some modifications. It really reads almost like a novel, without perhaps as many of the classic literary devices. The plot is a little more jumpy than a novel would be, probably because it closely follows the author’s actual career path as he worked on this case and other cases for his law firm. There are periods where the case slows down, for example, and the author had to work on other things. I don’t think that the “jumpiness” in the plot detracts really from the book. It is actually quite interesting to me to see the dichotomy between the standard lawyer work he was doing and the pro-bono case. His pro-bono work is often at odds with the work that would be better for his career. The fact that this was a real case about real people was really significant to me. It helped me to really think about the people in a different way than I would for a fictional story. You might especially like this book if you enjoy fiction (or non-fiction) about law or if you have ever been interested in being lawyer.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Unlike anything I have read before, I appreciated the way the author unfolds his true story. Really great insight into LA Law type life. Author wrote well. It tells the story of a young lawyer's intro into the ins and outs of first year lawyers as well as the prospects of being courted by a well known law firm in LA. Who knew LA Law was biopic? In any event, Ian Graham brings the day by day to life. He also tells his story of working pro bono on Mario Rocha's murder case. We quickly see that Mar Unlike anything I have read before, I appreciated the way the author unfolds his true story. Really great insight into LA Law type life. Author wrote well. It tells the story of a young lawyer's intro into the ins and outs of first year lawyers as well as the prospects of being courted by a well known law firm in LA. Who knew LA Law was biopic? In any event, Ian Graham brings the day by day to life. He also tells his story of working pro bono on Mario Rocha's murder case. We quickly see that Mario is wrongly accused and in need of a justice system that will not fail him. The contrast of these two young men's lives play out well and we get a front row seat to the courtroom drama. Having worked for two lawyers I certainly could appreciate the long hours and the lack of social life of any kind. I also come to appreciate the work it is to become a professional on this level with many things to sacrifice. The human side of the author sharing his involvement in the life of Mario Rocha was moving. Mario, born into limited the opportunities the author had all of, was portrayed well and I liked how the author shared his insight. It is a fast paced story and I was able to keep up, learning not only the inner workings of criminal and corporate law, but the inner workings of the Mario Rocha story which I had previously not known.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I read this book as someone considering going into Law as a second career, and looking forward to learning what it will be like. OUCH! Ian has definitely given me reason to slow down and think very carefully. The truth is, my first career was much like he describes the first two years - full of drudgery and gruntwork, and new graduates (I among them) who felt overly-qualified for the level of tedium required. I started out my career in consulting with big dreams, and found as I was pushed from p I read this book as someone considering going into Law as a second career, and looking forward to learning what it will be like. OUCH! Ian has definitely given me reason to slow down and think very carefully. The truth is, my first career was much like he describes the first two years - full of drudgery and gruntwork, and new graduates (I among them) who felt overly-qualified for the level of tedium required. I started out my career in consulting with big dreams, and found as I was pushed from project to project focused on billable time, that I was not able to make a difference to anyone except the pockets of big corporations. Like Ian, I remember the shock I felt upon realizing the vast difference between my bill rate and my actual income, and it was disheartening. As I have planned my new career, I wanted to be away from that, and I appreciate Ian's story as it reminds to me choose my employment carefully, to avoid the siren call of the promised glamor, and stay focused on what matters - the individuals impacted each day. Looking forward to finding and watching "Mario's Story."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jamala

    I really enjoyed this book and it was a freebie (score). I think being able to relate to the experience of law school, recruiting, and then the actual practice of law v. school, allowed me to feel as if I knew the author. However, it did get a little old to hear about the author's priviledged upbringing, effortless good grades, and the apparent fawning over he received during recruiting. However, I think that it was necessary for the author to set the stage, showing his cockiness and materialism I really enjoyed this book and it was a freebie (score). I think being able to relate to the experience of law school, recruiting, and then the actual practice of law v. school, allowed me to feel as if I knew the author. However, it did get a little old to hear about the author's priviledged upbringing, effortless good grades, and the apparent fawning over he received during recruiting. However, I think that it was necessary for the author to set the stage, showing his cockiness and materialism at the beginning of the story to see/appreciate the growth he goes through. I felt that he adequately described the grueling hours, billing expectations, and philosopy of the big firm to get a picture of new associate life. The recounting of Mario's story was touching and made me glad the author let his conscience be his guide. Ultimately, Ian Graham had to answer that age old question, "your money or your life?" I think he made a courageous decision.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sera

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I loved this free book on Kindle. What initially attracted me was the story about the post-law school graduate who works at a sweatshop large firm for big bucks, but then the book took a huge turn and turned into a quest for justice for a young lifer. Part An Innocent Man and part Anonymous Lawyer, once I started this book, I couldn't put it down. I read it one sitting. The book was well-written and provided great insight into the practice of law post-graduation for many plus the injustices that I loved this free book on Kindle. What initially attracted me was the story about the post-law school graduate who works at a sweatshop large firm for big bucks, but then the book took a huge turn and turned into a quest for justice for a young lifer. Part An Innocent Man and part Anonymous Lawyer, once I started this book, I couldn't put it down. I read it one sitting. The book was well-written and provided great insight into the practice of law post-graduation for many plus the injustices that continue to occur within in our criminal legal system where DNA is not available to save the day. I will go to sleep happy and satisfied tonight.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I got this book free on my Kindle. This book had all the markings of a good story, about a young man falsely accused of murder and the lawyer who would set out to help him. That side of the story was engaging and well-written, aside from a few minor dialogue issues. The part I did not like was that intermixed with the story was Graham's life as a new associate attorney in a huge law firm. He mentions several times how he thought law work would be different and not as "mind-numbing", which would be I got this book free on my Kindle. This book had all the markings of a good story, about a young man falsely accused of murder and the lawyer who would set out to help him. That side of the story was engaging and well-written, aside from a few minor dialogue issues. The part I did not like was that intermixed with the story was Graham's life as a new associate attorney in a huge law firm. He mentions several times how he thought law work would be different and not as "mind-numbing", which would be okay, but after awhile it just seems to be a lot of complaining. Graham also takes the opportunity every so often to remind people of the sacrifices he made to be a lawyer and how he is just naturally gifted at this job. If it hadn't been for the self-praise I would have given this book 3.5 stars, but that knocked it down to 2.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Unbillable Hours is a quick and good read because it is a good, true story well told. It is a combination of Ian Graham's take on associate life at a large, international law firm and his assistance in helping to overturn Mario Rocha's murder conviction. Graham's tale of BigLaw associate life confirms what many lawyers hear in law school. It will be unrecognizable, but fascinating, to Iowa lawyers. Seeking to avoid the drudgery of endless document review, Graham asked to work on a pro bono case. Unbillable Hours is a quick and good read because it is a good, true story well told. It is a combination of Ian Graham's take on associate life at a large, international law firm and his assistance in helping to overturn Mario Rocha's murder conviction. Graham's tale of BigLaw associate life confirms what many lawyers hear in law school. It will be unrecognizable, but fascinating, to Iowa lawyers. Seeking to avoid the drudgery of endless document review, Graham asked to work on a pro bono case. His firm assigned him to assist on a habeas corpus proceeding on behalf of Mario Rocha, convicted for murder when he was 17. Graham's telling of Rocha's story is gripping. His discussion of his own assistance on the case, while juggling the rest of his workload, is without significant bravado. Rocha's case clearly changed Graham's life. I am glad he told the story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Terry Koressel

    I loved the true story of this 1st year law professional who undergoes an epiphany after volunteering for a pro-bono assignment that carries on for four years. As a former professional at an international CPA firm, I can appreciate the pressure to reach lofty (and sometimes unachievable) levels of billable hours for the firm. It leaves one with an empty feeling about the work and its purpose. In fact, Maria Montessori and her belief that work defines the meaning of an individual would delight in I loved the true story of this 1st year law professional who undergoes an epiphany after volunteering for a pro-bono assignment that carries on for four years. As a former professional at an international CPA firm, I can appreciate the pressure to reach lofty (and sometimes unachievable) levels of billable hours for the firm. It leaves one with an empty feeling about the work and its purpose. In fact, Maria Montessori and her belief that work defines the meaning of an individual would delight in this story. In my opinion, Unbillable Hours was not well-written (as in a professional, well-publisher author)...but that is ok, since it is autobiographical and the charm comes from its ordinary, everyday perspective on life. I personally could not put the book down. Easy read and fast. I recommend! Mario's Story is an award-winning documentary telling the same story.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Peter Clothier

    An excellent read. I believe that 2015 will prove to be the year that America came out of denial about its all-too-fallible justice system, and Graham's book--which fell into my hands by sheer accident, five years after its publication--is the gripping account of justice gone badly awry, in the case of a young Latino wrongfully accused of murder, convicted and severely sentence in the mockery of a trial. It's also the story of a young lawyer, seduced into the profitable practice of corporate law An excellent read. I believe that 2015 will prove to be the year that America came out of denial about its all-too-fallible justice system, and Graham's book--which fell into my hands by sheer accident, five years after its publication--is the gripping account of justice gone badly awry, in the case of a young Latino wrongfully accused of murder, convicted and severely sentence in the mockery of a trial. It's also the story of a young lawyer, seduced into the profitable practice of corporate law, who finds his conscience in pursuit of a pro bono case that seems unwinnable. It's an utterly compelling and skillfully written story, and one that exposes the underbelly of a justice system shot through with racial bias, indifference, lawyer incompetence, and perversely blind to its own egregious mistakes. How come this was not on the bestseller lists?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I really enjoyed this memoir, possibly because I could relate to the author. Ian Graham is dead on with his description fo BigLaw, right down to recruiting and the work. Some was a bit dated - discovery is now largely computer based, but still - he describes the life of a young associate. I totally recognized his description of responding to interrogatories and document requests. I also really enjoyed his discussion of his pro bono case. Like many young associates, he started working on a pro bo I really enjoyed this memoir, possibly because I could relate to the author. Ian Graham is dead on with his description fo BigLaw, right down to recruiting and the work. Some was a bit dated - discovery is now largely computer based, but still - he describes the life of a young associate. I totally recognized his description of responding to interrogatories and document requests. I also really enjoyed his discussion of his pro bono case. Like many young associates, he started working on a pro bono project due to his ambivalence about big firm work. Ian ended up immersed in it and managed to obtain an amazing result for his client. Overall, I recommend this book for anyone considering a career in law.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    Based on the advance review copy I saw, this book is in turns dramatic, touching, and laugh-out-loud funny. It's the true story of a brash young lawyer in a big law firm having his life and outlook changed by an unpaid legal battle to free a young man serving life for a murder he did not commit. The long battle attracted a lot of press in part because of the cast of characters, including a gifted teenager who'd been wrongly convicted and a crusading nun who persuaded one of the world's largest l Based on the advance review copy I saw, this book is in turns dramatic, touching, and laugh-out-loud funny. It's the true story of a brash young lawyer in a big law firm having his life and outlook changed by an unpaid legal battle to free a young man serving life for a murder he did not commit. The long battle attracted a lot of press in part because of the cast of characters, including a gifted teenager who'd been wrongly convicted and a crusading nun who persuaded one of the world's largest law firms to take on his case for free. This book tells the story of how they came together and put aside billable hours to pursue a seemingly hopeless cause.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    Based on the advance review copy I saw, this book is in turns dramatic, touching, and laugh-out-loud funny. It's the true story of a brash young lawyer in a big law firm having his life and outlook changed by an unpaid legal battle to free a young man sentenced to life for a murder he did not commit. This case attracted a lot of press in part because of its cast of characters, including a gifted teenager wrongly sentenced to life, and a crusading nun who persuaded a large and prestigious law fir Based on the advance review copy I saw, this book is in turns dramatic, touching, and laugh-out-loud funny. It's the true story of a brash young lawyer in a big law firm having his life and outlook changed by an unpaid legal battle to free a young man sentenced to life for a murder he did not commit. This case attracted a lot of press in part because of its cast of characters, including a gifted teenager wrongly sentenced to life, and a crusading nun who persuaded a large and prestigious law firm to take up the young man's cause for free. With humor and insight, the author tells the story of how they came together and put aside billable hours to pursue a seemingly-hopeless case.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    I quite enjoyed this book. There was a time when I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. My cousin and I had planned to attend law school together. She did, I did not. Reading Unbillable Hours reinforces my belief that I have made the correct decision in not pursuing a law degree. I am not cut out for anything close to what Mr. Graham has described as his life while working as a corporate attorney. I was intrigued to read of the inner workings of the firm where he was employed and of the expectations I quite enjoyed this book. There was a time when I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. My cousin and I had planned to attend law school together. She did, I did not. Reading Unbillable Hours reinforces my belief that I have made the correct decision in not pursuing a law degree. I am not cut out for anything close to what Mr. Graham has described as his life while working as a corporate attorney. I was intrigued to read of the inner workings of the firm where he was employed and of the expectations that were placed on young attorneys.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Leo

    This is an interesting read both for the insight into life in a major law firm as well as the young man who is the focus of the story. The writer keeps the story moving and holds your attention. One perhaps unintended result of the story is illuminating the ethical void in the prosecutor's office, a void likely not uncommon in legal practice. It makes brief appearances in the descriptions of some of the legal work done by the firm as well. While it may not get as many repeat readings as Sherlock This is an interesting read both for the insight into life in a major law firm as well as the young man who is the focus of the story. The writer keeps the story moving and holds your attention. One perhaps unintended result of the story is illuminating the ethical void in the prosecutor's office, a void likely not uncommon in legal practice. It makes brief appearances in the descriptions of some of the legal work done by the firm as well. While it may not get as many repeat readings as Sherlock Holmes it definitely is worth a reading.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ronya

    Been on a legal kick lately. This was a decent memoir of a first year associate's big firm experience. Not the best written memoir I've read (and you know I've read a lot) but still entertaining. A bit reminiscent of One L--interesting enough to intrigue you but not scary enough to keep you away from that lifestyle if it is the path you have chosen. Left me wanting to know more about Mario Rocha but haven't gotten around to doing any extra research. It's a free Kindle download, if anyone is inte Been on a legal kick lately. This was a decent memoir of a first year associate's big firm experience. Not the best written memoir I've read (and you know I've read a lot) but still entertaining. A bit reminiscent of One L--interesting enough to intrigue you but not scary enough to keep you away from that lifestyle if it is the path you have chosen. Left me wanting to know more about Mario Rocha but haven't gotten around to doing any extra research. It's a free Kindle download, if anyone is interested. Not that I gave you any reason to want to do so immediately.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    The book is redeemed by the story of Mario Rocha- a Latino railroaded by prosecutors and his worthless court appointed attorney into a life sentence for a murder he did not commit. With the current budget crunch these stories will only increase. Ian gives us some insight to the 'sweatshop' of corporate law. I think he would be the first to admit we won't be crying in our beer at overworked attorneys pulling in 6 figures. But it is good to know. The book is redeemed by the story of Mario Rocha- a Latino railroaded by prosecutors and his worthless court appointed attorney into a life sentence for a murder he did not commit. With the current budget crunch these stories will only increase. Ian gives us some insight to the 'sweatshop' of corporate law. I think he would be the first to admit we won't be crying in our beer at overworked attorneys pulling in 6 figures. But it is good to know.

  25. 4 out of 5

    liirogue

    The memoir of a young hot-shot attorney that becomes involved in the case of a young man wrongly convicted of murder. I'm not normally interested in legal thrillers or memoirs, and a lawyer is the least likely protagonist in my mind. But I really enjoyed his story - how he was sucked into the big lawfirm world almost without realizing it, and how volunteering his time for this young man's case ultimately changed his outlook on life. The memoir of a young hot-shot attorney that becomes involved in the case of a young man wrongly convicted of murder. I'm not normally interested in legal thrillers or memoirs, and a lawyer is the least likely protagonist in my mind. But I really enjoyed his story - how he was sucked into the big lawfirm world almost without realizing it, and how volunteering his time for this young man's case ultimately changed his outlook on life.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anya

    I am reading this on my Kindle, so about 45% through the book. I've never heard of the author before, but I came across this book when it was free on amazon as a part of their hourly promotions. I can't put it down as it reads as a thriller. Graham's expose is an engrossing look into the lives of big law firms and injustices of the American legal system. It's written in a layman's language nevertheless and it is an easy read, which is what I need due to my lack of sleep these days. I am reading this on my Kindle, so about 45% through the book. I've never heard of the author before, but I came across this book when it was free on amazon as a part of their hourly promotions. I can't put it down as it reads as a thriller. Graham's expose is an engrossing look into the lives of big law firms and injustices of the American legal system. It's written in a layman's language nevertheless and it is an easy read, which is what I need due to my lack of sleep these days.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Andrews

    Read this book if you get a chance. I was unfamiliar with Mario's story and it's a great one. Kudos to everyone who worked so hard on his case, though if you stop to think about all the other innocent people in prison who don't have a Latham funding their appeals... As I mentioned in status updates, Graham does a good job describing life as a new lawyer at a big-time law firm. The two stories work well together. Read this book if you get a chance. I was unfamiliar with Mario's story and it's a great one. Kudos to everyone who worked so hard on his case, though if you stop to think about all the other innocent people in prison who don't have a Latham funding their appeals... As I mentioned in status updates, Graham does a good job describing life as a new lawyer at a big-time law firm. The two stories work well together.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dia

    True story about life as a young, freshly-schooled attorney working the endless, mind-numbing grind in a Los Angeles law firm…If this is what it’s really like at these fancy-smancy mucho ritzy firms, I can’t imagine how anybody sticks with it and becomes a partner. INTERESTING true story from someone that has lived it. I liked it and had no idea the amount of blood, sweat and tears these young lawyers go through. I especially enjoyed it because it was a written by the actual guy. —Recommended.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Liz Balderston

    This is one of those books that I got and then didn't read it for a year or so. Once I did start reading it, I found myself engrossed in the story. It's hard to believe and completely believable at the same time. I found myself yelling at the book at the injustice and ignorance at the 'loyalty to a lie'. I am so happy that Ian Graham wrote this to tell the world about Mario and his case. He has a great writing style and I feel he did justice to his and Mario's story. This is one of those books that I got and then didn't read it for a year or so. Once I did start reading it, I found myself engrossed in the story. It's hard to believe and completely believable at the same time. I found myself yelling at the book at the injustice and ignorance at the 'loyalty to a lie'. I am so happy that Ian Graham wrote this to tell the world about Mario and his case. He has a great writing style and I feel he did justice to his and Mario's story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Bought this book yesterday and finished it today. It's a short easy read with an interesting story to tell. If you're not a lawyer, you might glaze over a little bit at the description of big firm life, but those of considering private practice in a big-ish firm find it interesting and cringe to hope it's not all true. I plan to rent the movie if it's out at Scarecrow. Bought this book yesterday and finished it today. It's a short easy read with an interesting story to tell. If you're not a lawyer, you might glaze over a little bit at the description of big firm life, but those of considering private practice in a big-ish firm find it interesting and cringe to hope it's not all true. I plan to rent the movie if it's out at Scarecrow.

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