Rick Lax sent me a pre-publication copy of his new book, "Lawyer Boy," which was released today (July 8). After reading it, I first considered hunting him down in order to eliminate further competition in the legal-humor department, but decided instead to post a review of the book.
Hunting people down can be really tiring (unless they are elderly, which this guy is not), and it's expensive to have someone else do it.
This is a very funny book, and that starts with its premise, which is pretty much summarized in the book's first sentence: "I always wanted to be a magician, but my father, a tax lawyer, never considered magic a 'viable career path.'" Neither was political science, which Lax had studied in college. So, really, what other option is there in that situation but law school?
I also majored in "political science" -- which, Lax notes, really doesn't exist -- with a focus on the Soviet Union, which now definitely doesn't exist. My other major was in ancient history, which by definition is the study of things that no longer exist. So, while I was never a magician, my options other than law school were also pretty illusory. Why this kind of background might lead people to legal-humor writing is beyond the scope of this piece, which after all is supposed to be a goddamn book review.
"Lawyer Boy" is, more or less, a memoir of Lax's first year in law school at DePaul University in Chicago. It's a lot more entertaining than that might sound, though, even if you are not a lawyer, because the writing is clear and funny, frequently laugh-out-loud funny. No, not eyebrow-lift or even appreciative-nod funny, but the laugh-out-loud kind.
There are also diagrams, comic strips, and other asides like bogus law-school-admission-denial letters and numerous comical footnotes explaining various legal concepts that have no business being funny. (You can also learn at least three magic tricks, although it is possible that the instructions are set up so that you will fail in some comical fashion.) This is all mixed with highly entertaining stories about Rick, his friends (or friend-composites), and his relationship problems (or relationship-problem composites).
The book also shows how law school can result in legal thinking slowly and insidiously creeping into every aspect of your life, including (as related in the book) your internal dialogues, relationships with non-lawyers, and possibly even incidents involving the homeless. This is something that every new lawyer must struggle with, and it can be a real challenge to keep it from swamping the personality (if any) that you had before you went to law school. And then the law itself can be a stressful pursuit that frequently is not funny at all. I hope this blog shows that that's not always the case. I know this book does.
You should buy it.