Anonymous Lawyer puts satire in book

Ex-law student expands his fictional blog character to skewer The Man

March 23, 2006|By JESSICA BERTHOLD | JESSICA BERTHOLD,THE MORNING CALL

Everyone knows someone like Anonymous Lawyer (anonymouslawyer.blog spot.com). Maybe it's your tyrannical boss. Or the businessman in the SUV who cut you off in traffic. He's that guy you secretly love to hate, the whipping boy for all your minor frustrations. In a nutshell, he's what the hippies used to call The Man.

A partner at a large law firm in Los Angeles, Anonymous Lawyer is the kind of guy who compares his employees to incontinent dogs. He's a guy who runs over a cat and blames the owners for not taking control of their pet. A fellow so tactless, brash and clueless, with a self-importance so disproportionate to reality, he is somehow, strangely, humorous.

Thankfully, Anonymous Lawyer isn't real; he's Jeremy Blachman, a former law school student who outed himself as the site's creator last year. Though the blog has lost a bit of its intrigue now that it's known to be fictional, Anonymous Lawyer still balances humor and discomfort in a way that makes for some truly savory satire.

Blachman, 27, started his blog while a student at Harvard Law, from which he later graduated. The extent of his experience in the legal profession comes from one summer as an associate at a Manhattan firm and interviews with recruiters.

The Brooklyn writer just finished a book, due out this summer, based on his blog's character. He hopes to secure another book deal, or possibly pursue work in films or television. A career in law, he says, is not in the cards.

Is this purely a humor blog?

Well, there's definitely a truth to it in that law students do end up at places like this and maybe these places turn people into someone like Anonymous Lawyer. So if this convinces people to sort of take another look at what they want to do, I don't think it's a terrible thing.

Are your readers mostly lawyers?

I have to imagine they are, but I also get a lot of e-mails from spouses and former spouses of lawyers who say "This is what my husband was like and why we aren't married anymore."

What does Anonymous Lawyer like? He seems to hate everything.

He likes ... golf. He seems to like expensive lunches, and the lifestyle his salary allows him to have. And he likes being in charge.

Where do you get your material?

Most of it is from my imagination, or from my experience with interviews or as a summer associate. I do talk to friends who work in law, but most of them aren't having terrible experiences. Sometimes they'll tell me an anecdote, like about having to get up at 3 a.m. for a conference call with someone in a different time zone, and I'll embellish it for the blog.

So was your experience as a summer associate really awful?

No! They were actually really nice, and I got to do a fair bit of interesting work. The events were fun; the lunches were nice.

Why did you set Anonymous Lawyer in L.A.?

At first I just wanted to do a different time zone so it didn't match up with the posts on my other blog. I've never even been there, so any of the L.A. details are from the Internet or friends.

How will the book differ from the blog?

The blog doesn't have a story. The blog posts can be thrown in the air and fall down in any sequence; the character doesn't change. So the challenge for the book was to figure out something that would capture the readers so it's not just funny, but you care about this guy.

Is it cathartic in some way, writing a blog in the voice of a jerk?

I don't know, because it's not like I'm angry at these law firms. I'm just trying to be funny.

How has writing the blog changed now that you aren't anonymous?

Well, I had to remove the comments immediately because I didn't want someone to write the name of the firm where I'd worked. And since I started the book, the blog content has been a lot less subtle. Hopefully over the next six months, I'll be able to introduce more subtlety back in.

Why did you decide against going into law?

I think I went to law school knowing I didn't want to be a lawyer. I think I was doing it to buy myself three more years to figure out how to write, and what I could do to actually be a writer.

Jessica Berthold writes for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa.

ANONYMOUSLAWYER.BLOGSPOT.COM

In a word:

Caricatural.

E-candy for:

Poorly paid public interest lawyers who need affirmation about their career choice. Corporate attorneys who can laugh at themselves. Disgruntled employees of all stripes.

In sum:

Fictional diary of an egotistical lawyer at a big-city firm.

This blog as a person:

A meaner, more successful David Brent (from BBC's The Office).

Sample topics:

How summer associates should be forced to compete against each other, like on `'Survivor." The stupidity of daylight saving time, as it means the loss of one billable hour. How there should be a VIP line at the dentist's office.

Classic post:

"It's interesting how one or two students can make or break a school's reputation at a firm. Like just because a guy last summer from Chicago had stains on all of his shirts, I have this image of Chicago students as dirty and unkempt ... Penn lawyers are good at golf; Michigan lawyers are fat; NYU lawyers come into the office drunk ... Virginia lawyers look great in skirts, so they get offers. It's weird how all of this works." (Post: May 5, 2004.)

Making it happen:

Jeremy Blachman, 27, a Harvard Law graduate.

Created:

March 2004.

Updates:

About twice a week.

Writing:

Satirical and sometimes wickedly funny.

Design:

Adequate.

Comments allowed?

No.

Popularity:

About 4,000 readers a day.

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