Book Review: Lawyer Boy by Rick Lax (2008).
“‘Nothing new is ever new’…It’s all been done before…”
It’s all been done before, including this lyric. Law school memoirs have proliferated much like reality television shows. A law school memoir published in 2008, Rick Lax’s Lawyer Boy even pays homage to the “granddaddy” of all law school memoirs, One L by Scott Turow. (p. 32.)
However, because the people and circumstances involved differ, each memoir necessarily differs. And Lax brings his unique spin to the genre through an acute wit and background as a magician.
Not as introspective as One L, Lawyer Boy nevertheless comically outpaces One L, and many other law school memoirs, through hilarious anecdotes and observations that are not limited to his fellow students, professors or school administrators. For example, Lax tells a funny story about his attempt to return a defective piece of luggage, arguing the implied covenant of merchantability (pp. 131-32). He also reveals a contract he entered into with his parents to allow him to obtain doves for his magic tricks as a young man. (pp. 3-4, fn. 3.)
In Lawyer Boy, Lax reserves his sharpest wit for his legal writing instructor. (However, it’s not clear how much embellishment has been included since Lax indicates in his “Author’s Note” that “the students and professors described in this book are composites based on my DePaul law school classmates and professors.” He further notes: “I reconstructed dialog and altered details of several incidents….The details of certain law school assignments and exam questions have been changed.” ) Even if a fraction of the instructor’s comments is accurately recorded, the skewering was well-deserved.
Lawyer Boy essentially only covers Lax’s first year at DePaul law school. Even in that short time, however, Lax weaves his education into his life experiences, showing how his legal training changed how he perceived and participated in life. For example, the considerations that ran through his mind when he had to make a 911 call (pp. 231-33) or when he saw someone get injured in a gym (pp. 260-62) could only be written by a law student or lawyer.
Given these personal flourishes and the constant comedy, his book will appeal to those who haven’t gone to law school equally to those who have.