Anyone who is a regular reader of the blawgosphere will be familiar with Mark Herrmann, former contributor to the Drug and Device Law blog (which is still capably run by Jim Beck) and current contributor to a regular column on Above the Law entitled Inside Straight. Herrmann’s work on that column attracted the attention of ABA Publishing, which collected many of Herrmann’s Inside Straight columns in a single bound volume, aptly titled Inside Straight. So, essentially you now have the privilege of paying $24.95 for something that you could get for free, legally, on the Internet. Why, you ask, should you do it? Within about one hour of having received an advance copy of the book, one of my partners absconded with it, and I haven’t seen it since. That might be a clue as to its value.
The subtitle of the book, Advice about Lawyering, In-House and Out, That Only the Internet Could Provide fairly sums up its subject matter. It’s a book about the stuff that you don’t learn in law school (sorry to have to break the news to all those law schools out there touting their “experiential learning” curricula), like how to impress partners and clients. Plus, the book is organized in a way that preserves the user comments from the original ATL posts, so it offers additional interactive content that only the Internet could have provided.
Herrmann’s book, and the column more generally (he’s still writing it), are an extremely useful resource for helping to answer questions of associates and young partners about the often murky dynamics of life in a big law firm, both in terms of dealing with other lawyers within the firm and in dealing with the in-house lawyers who tend to be our clients. I’ve been able to point lawyers to his column several times just in the last few weeks in answering a question about why I think an issue should be approached a particular way. Just this past Friday, I pointed an associate to Herrmann’s most recent column, discussing the need to provide actual legal advice rather than simply referring a client or partner to the source, in trying to explain my criticisms of portions of a legal memo. Unlike that conversation (for the associate at least), Herrmann’s column has the advantage of being engaging and funny, which actually makes it even more useful since it makes it more likely that the advice will sink in!
In short, I would encourage everyone to shell out the mere $24.95 it takes to get Herrmann’s insights in a glossy bound volume. At minimum, give his ATL column a try. If you do, it’ll be hard to resist ordering a copy of the book too.