February 26, 2007

Up A Creek Without A Lawyer

Today is the anniversary of the Buffalo Creek Flood of 1972, in which a dam owned by the Pittsston Coal Company in Logan County, West Virginia burst, sending a wall of water downstream that killed 125 people and wiped out a mining town.

I remember that as part of law school orientation we were compelled to read a book called The Buffalo Creek Disaster, written by the lawyer who represented the victims and their families in going after Pittston. I'm not sure whether this exercise was meant to instill in us newbie 1-L's a sense of rah-rah public spiritedness (plucky Little Guy vs. Snidely Whiplash) or else to expose us to the ins and outs of front-line legal practice (all the cases settled for a modest wodge of dosh). I'm afraid all it really instilled in me was a fear that it would turn up on some final exam somewhere.

I have to admit that although I'm a lawyer and I love to read, I hate reading lawyer books, whether they be memoirs by people like Dershowitz or David Bois, or fiction by people like Grisham or Turow. People keep giving them to me, but they all wind up on the "not gonna bother" shelf. The only exception to my bar on books-about-lawyers-or-the-law is, of course, the great John Mortimer. (And yes, I hate movies and tee vee shows about lawyers, too.)

Posted by Robert at February 26, 2007 02:01 PM | TrackBack

What about songs: "Lawyers in Love" by Jackson Browne and "Lawyers, Guns and Money" by Warren Zevon, for starters?

Posted by: Jeff at February 26, 2007 03:47 PM

Okay, Zevon I'll grant you. Good point.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at February 26, 2007 03:57 PM

What bothered me about the book was the top lawyer's justification that he made out better than any of the victims: sometimes you do well by doing good. And I know he only got a percentage of everyone else's settlement. Still, $12K for losing your house, attorney rakes in $1 mil.

Posted by: rbj at February 26, 2007 03:59 PM

You dislike Rumpole and the Irish R.M.?

Posted by: John at February 27, 2007 08:05 AM

No, I love both. I mentioned an exception for John Mortimer. And I don't consider the Irish R.M. to be a "lawyer" book, since Major Yeats' professional occupation is really just a backdrop to most of the stories.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at February 27, 2007 08:59 AM