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I am anonymous. Except for my editor, my friends, partners at a bunch of firms and pretty much anyone else who reads my NLJ.com column, nobody knows me. I don’t exist and I like it that way. Anonymity makes you free. It gives you the opportunity to be anyone you want. In March 2004, Jeremy Blachman, then a 2L at Harvard Law School, decided to become, according to his wildly popular Weblog, “a fictional hiring partner at a large law firm in a major city.” Two and half years and almost 2 million hits later, Blachman has converted his devilishly amusing digital alter ego into Anonymous Lawyer (Henry Holt & Co. 2006), this summer’s must- read for lawyers-and anybody who can’t stand one. The book tracks the blogging adventures of a hiring partner at a big firm over an eight-week period. At the outset, the protagonist, AL, creates the online journal because he has no one at the firm with whom he can talk openly. In regular e-mail correspondence with Anonymous Niece, a senior at Stanford and future Yale Law School 1L, he reveals more about himself and the firm. The novel uses an imaginative cast of characters, like Lives With His Mom, to act out the amusing stereotypes of law firms and lawyers. AL immediately sets the tone of his blog when he learns that The Guy With the Giant Mole quit to become a high school teacher because he could not take a vacation. “That’s what happens when you can’t cut it,” writes AL. Later he highlights that his office is “fifty-two extra paper clips in each direction” larger than his archenemy, The Jerk. Other tidbits include the pregnant woman who named her child after the firm and The Frumpy Litigator, who despite an allergy to shellfish takes a bite of a partner’s lobster cake because he asked her to and “when a partner tells you to do something, you do it, no matter what. Anaphylactic shock be damned.” As funny as his character may be, AL is a lawyer who could have been something better, but got trapped into something worse. In response to his nephew’s idealism, he comments, “not everyone can do good. Some of us like having nice things.” Perhaps it is this notion of not getting trapped that has fostered the creation of a new generation of legal smart alecks, myself included. While I am an actual practicing lawyer, Blachman’s amazing talent is making you believe that he is one too. Between AL’s blog postings, he artfully interweaves e-mails from associates at other firms trying to guess his identity, each advising that what AL reported took place at their firms as well. Ultimately, AL’s postings and the e-mail traffic send him down the slippery slope of getting caught, but it is his insightful, yet subtle commentary that makes Anonymous Lawyer more than a well-written novel with moments of true hilarity. It is a nonpractitioner’s take on the state of the legal profession. It is about the perceived lack of originality and the ever-tightening brass ring. A central issue is AL’s desire to be chairman of the firm. On his list of things to do when he assumes the top job is to take free food away from overweight associates (AL has a real problem with obesity), switch to three-ply toilet paper and revoke health benefits for paralegals. Blachman’s scenarios make you laugh not because they could have happened to you, but because they are almost possible in the unique law firm environment. At the firm’s internal Hurricane Katrina auction to raise funds for the victims, The Word Processing Guy Who Used to Be Under House Arrest donates a midnight massage for an associate stuck late in the office. No one bids. AL donates a day’s worth of binder clips and post-it flags to the Red Cross. The humor aside, there is a recurring theme about working way too hard. AL’s family includes his shopaholic Anonymous Wife, his neglected Anonymous Son (who knows the names of AL’s top 10 clients and his billings to each) and Anonymous Daughter (who knows how many times AL’s clients were cited for OSHA violations). AL’s least favorite day is the switch to daylight savings time because the firm loses hundreds of billable hours. When one of the lawyers in the story dies, his last words were “I should have spent more time at the office.” Anonymous Lawyer is a fun read and provides a comedic peek into a profession that takes itself way too seriously. Those of us who do look at the lighter side are better off for it, even if no one knows who the heck we are. The Disassociate writes an anonymous humor column for The National Law Journal’s Web site. In addition to this column, The Disassociate blogs a daily comic at www.disassociate.net and can be reached at [email protected].

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