How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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November 29, 2004



"I'll keep you posted." - No pun intended!
I'm mulling over the idea and haven't decided what I think about Anonymous Lawyer as a book. I certainly wouldn't be jealous of his (or her) success - I think it'd be wonderful. But something about the idea makes me wonder if it would even work as a book. A book, of course, loses the interactive quality that a blog has. And I wonder if that interactive quality - that ability to instantly rate and comment on AL's ridiculous posts - is a large part of what makes the blog so popular.


Kelly: Your point about the comments on AL's blog is a good one--many report reading the blog for its comments. See, for example, Scheherazade's post today about AL.

On the other hand, I think most of the entries are so clever that they stand on their own. Personally, I don't pay much attention to the comments. Between covers, I envision Anonymous Lawyer as a typical novel, only told in one-per-day diary format. It would have to have a beginning, middle, and end; a climax; the character of the Anonymous Lawyer would have to change in some way by the story's end, etc. The plot would generate tension and suspense and interest without the need for comments. Additional interest would be created by the fact that the book would be humorous--each entry, as well as the story itself, would stand as a satiric commentary on big-firm life.

Without the interactivity you mention, it definitely wouldn't be a weblog (and the entries would move chronologically from the beginning, rather than backwards as with a weblog). It would be something other than a weblog--still interesting, but for different reasons.


Hi Evan,

Cool idea -- I'll be interested to see what waves we can make with the ripples you started.

Thanks for doing it.


We'll help to spread the word too. I think that he's creative enough to pull it off, and I think his style would lend itself to book form more than most bloggers.

Carolyn Elefant

I wish AL the best of luck with a book (I'd surely read it) But hasn't it been done before? -

Maybe it's different if a partner writes it.

David Giacalone

I'm not sure there is much of a market for a novel-length book about a law firm that relies so much on the reader's "insider knowledge" and gets its punch from intelligent, sustained satire. AL might do better pitching s soap opera -- daytime or evening -- while hoping that "Boston Law" proves the popularity of the genre without overcrowding the field.

Federalist No. 84

AL's book could the the Catch-22 of law firm life.


I saw that post in my aggregator on Nov 22 and linked to it but didn't realize that it had disappeared. I did think it was a bit out of character, but if "his" actual life is anything like his fictional one (i.e. the wife leaving) then maybe the life/law stresses are beginning to take a toll on him which explains the desperation that sounded in that post.

On a side note, I think it's one of the interesting conundrums of publishing a full RSS feed -- the fact that although you can delete the post from your site but evidence of its existence may remain in other people's aggregators.

Also, what's with that "and" getting its own paragraph? Does that count as a typo or did you mean to do that?


Kevin: I don't know how the "and" got there. I didn't mean to do it but it's not a typo. It's a publishing error. I'm frustrated with typepad at the moment.


I disagree David. AL's book could be Office Space told from the perspective of Lundberg, with a lot more money (and hopefully more sauciness) involved. Office Space was a hokey story in the end, but it was a vehicle for the insider gimmicks that we are all familiar with.


I sent a publishing friend a link to AL's blog with the backstory. He wrote me back with something along the lines of, "Noooooo? A Blogger wants a book contract???!!!! Shocker!" with exactly that many punctuation marks. I've never felt so low on the cynicism totem pole.

He also liked it, but is in financial publishing, so no dice. I still think it's a great idea. I will push it as the moments arise.

Al Nye

Since you asked, Evan, I ran a post about Anonymous Lawyer's desired book contract. I, too, wonder if it would make a good book.

For the reasons I list in my post, I wouldn't buy it.

Al Nye

Larry the Longhorn

I'm with Mr. Nye the Lawyer Guy, with the minor difference that I don't think AL is any good.


Larry: Since few people agree on everything, I'm sure others share your opinion. But why don't you think AL is any good? Not funny? Too over-the-top? Too mean-spirited (as I think Mr. Nye was saying)? Not well-written? Too easy to do?

I'd be interested to know your feelings.


I'd buy the book "Anonymous Lawyer: Stories From the Trenches, by a Fictional Hiring Partner at a Large Law Firm in a Major City" in a heartbeat.

AL's cynical and shrivelled but proud of it views are fun and insightful. Al's wit and irony makes his or her blawg my number one favorite. I am dissapointed when AL has been out of the office for a day or two.

I hope AL publishes; however, it may be that the format may have to change because as Kelly pointed out, much of the fun in reading AL's blawg (and anyone else's for that matter) flows from reader comments. AL and the publisher will need to come up with some creative way of incorporating this dynamic into the book so that the reader will experience the functional equivalent of the readers' comments in some way.

God bless AL.


"(As an aside, when Dennis Kennedy suggested in a tongue-in-cheek way that I might be the author of Anonymous Lawyer, I was flattered. But I’m not, as I said here: it’s not my style to be anonymous, for one thing. And there’s no way I could ever bring myself to write without paragraph breaks--I’m way too much a card-carrying English major for that, though I don't object to the mannerism in others.)"

One commenter (Dorkus) at Rufus' place said, "After reading his 'advice to young lawyers' section, it's my personal opinion that AL is Mr. Evan Schaeffer himself."

So here we have a Mr. Schaeffer repeatedly denying that he is not AL, but folks still thinking he is. Now, if Mr. Schaeffer wanted to protect his secret blog, claiming that he is not AL might be a good tactic. On the other hand, Mr. Schaeffer already has 3 blogs and a book that he is writing, plus he spends a great deal of time each week working at the family law firm. Also don't forget to throw in personal time and family time. It would be amazing if he had time for another blog. But on the other hand, this could explain the lack of paragraph breaks, etc. This could be something he quickly produces. Furthermore, Evan is interested in why Larry doesn't like AL - that is just the sort of thing the force behind AL might be concerned with.

So is Evan the AL? The world may never know as long as AL remains anonymous.


JR: Thanks, but somewhere out there is a talented person who's put a lot of work into Anonymous Lawyer, and it's not me. Since I don't want to be responsible for detracting from the credit due him or her, I've thought about how to prove that I'm not the author. I haven't come up with any good ideas except to promise to give you a huge sum of money if it turns out to be me. But that's no good: People would just say my promise isn't enforceable. Do you have any ideas?


The solution is simple, which I will reveal after you give me a huge sum of money. I promise.

Since I don't anticipate getting a huge some of money from you, I suppose the world will simply have to take your word for it. I take your word for it.



Didn't AL accidentally publish his RSS feed with his name in it or was another anon-blogger. Didn't we uncover one of these anon-blogs? My tiny brain does not allow me to recall such details, but if you remind me of it then I could vouch for you.

I'm pretty sure that its a grammatical mistake since it was a new paragraph and there was no period at the end of the sentence.


Kevin: Don't be so hard on yourself: your brain's fine. You're probably even right about the error; however, since it was caused by some sort of technological malfunction (it's happened quite a bit since typepad came out with a new editor) I don't count it.

As for the anonymous weblogger, I believe that was And What Thanks Do We Get? We discovered the author--or thought we did--but then didn't blow the whistle for the greater good of weblogging.

Federalist No. 84

I've picked up handful of names to match anonymous personalities, but would never tell. I imagine most of us know the real name of some anonymous blogger. That's why I really think the blogosphere (or, at least, blawgoshere) is special. Even bloggers who make personal attacks don't have those attacks met with details of that person's private or professional life. I've never seen someone write, "Blogger-X lost y-cases."

In a way, I hope blogging does not become more popular. The people doing it now are generally a good bunch. Why let the masses ruin it?


I've shown a number of non-law students/lawyers AL, and they've been surprisingly uninterested and frankly bored by the guy. Though it might make an interesting niche publication, it would probably be about as interesting to the non-law folks as "Anonymous Accountant" or "Anonymous School Teacher." Frankly, I'm not interested at all in the latter two ...

Interesting concept though ...

I also agree on the "interactivity" being a key component to AL


I don't buy that. Lawyer life is not a niche market. It has broad appeal. That's why there's eleventy billion TV shows about lawyers, and none about accountants, and very few about schoolteachers. Ditto with movies.

AL's stories make heartland people glad they aren't in a big city, and trigger a dramatized self-recognition for those in the big city. If told well, much of the market finds lawyer tales fascinating.


Sure, AL is a whore
like the oldest profession:
but no Belle de Jour.



I think the distinction is trial lawyer life (especially on the criminal side) has broad appeal. Thus the billion shows dedicated to trial lawyers. But transactional lawyers? Broad appeal? I can't think of one show/book that's dedicated to transactional lawyers. It's very much a niche market.

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