One L - Scott Turow

One L

By Scott Turow

  • Release Date: 2010-08-03
  • Genre: Law
Score: 4.5
From 104 Ratings


One L, Scott Turow's journal of his first year at law school introduces and a best-seller when it was first published in 1977, has gone on to become a virtual bible for prospective law students. Not only does it introduce with remarkable clarity the ideas and issues that are the stuff of legal education; it brings alive the anxiety and competiveness--with others and, even more, with oneself--that set the tone in this crucible of character building. Turow's multidimensional delving into his protagonists' psyches and his marvelous gift for suspense prefigure the achievements of his celebrated first novel, Presumed Innocent, one of the best-selling and most talked about books of 1987.

Each September, a new crop of students enter Harvard Law School to begin an intense, often grueling, sometimes harrowing year of introduction to the law. Turow's group of One Ls are fresh, bright, ambitious, and more than a little daunting. Even more impressive are the faculty: Perini, the dazzling, combative professor of contracts, who presents himself as the students' antagonist in their struggle to master his subject; Zechman, the reserved professor of torts who seems so indecisive the students fear he cannot teach; and Nicky Morris, a young, appealing man who stressed the humanistic aspects of law.

Will the One Ls survive? Will they excel? Will they make the Law Review, the outward and visible sign of success in this ultra-conservative microcosm? With remarkable insight into both his fellows and himself, Turow leads us through the ups and downs, the small triumphs and tragedies of the year, in an absorbing and throught-provoking narrative that teaches the reader not only about law school and the law but about the human beings who make them what they are.

In the new afterword for this edition of One L, the author looks back on law school from the perspective of ten years' work as a lawyer and offers some suggestions for reforming legal education.


  • Necessity to law students

    By D.W. 94
    This was an excellent account of a law students struggles even if it is difficult at times to relate to someone who attended HLS. I was disappointed in the end as it seemed to preach more than describe, but the author has reserved the right to do so. Still a necessary read for any future or current law student. I would recommend any young man or woman who so much as thinks they might attend law school read this book.
  • A Must-Read for Would-Be Law Students

    By aschine
    As a law student hopeful, I already feel indebted to Turow moments after finishing "One L". The book sheds light on what is an otherwise occult world, that of a Harvard law student. The book is an entertaining yet informative balance of autobiography, general information on law, and in the end, pedagogical analysis of law schooling. Written in 1977, the world Turow describes and the one we live in today differ almost in every facet. For example, Turow writes with incredulous fascination that big corporate law firms could bill their clients up to $200 per hour. I balked at the number, thinking it low, until I calculated for inflation and realized that the number would have been 898 in 2015 dollars. Artifacts of social changes such as this are prevalent throughout the book, but Turow argues that law education, predominantly, is immune to the same cultural shifts. Real estate law, he writes, requires an understanding of medieval legislature to be fully absorbed as a student. The methods of teaching the courses, the Socratic method, is a centuries old tradition. While the prudent applicant will seek further reading for more current accounts of law school, I doubt they will find one more honest, transparent and power as Turow's.
  • Nailed the emotions of 1L year

    By Header765567
    I found myself nodding in recognition at many passages in this memoir. I amp reading it in a break of my second year, at a lower tiered law school, and I found much still the same as described, especially the emotional reactions to bully professors and gunners (Kyle) in the story. But there are indeed some of the changes he suggests fully integrated in my law school, especially the practical. Also being a lower tiered school, most of the focus is on immediate practice skills. The assumption is you have to eat first right out of school and you don't have 4 years to be an anonymous associate at a huge firm,,for a high salary. Our grads hang their shingle immediately or work for the DA or Legal Aid or similar.
  • Highly Recommended

    By G. Penman
    As a current 1L, this book has been a life saver for me. If for no other reason than that in the candid recounting of Turow's fears, disquietudes, frustrations, and uncertainties I found myself no longer feeling like the only one struggling, I highly recommend this work as a rescue ring on the tumultuous 1L sea.
  • Awesome

    By Nateh90
    Great read for all aspiring lawyers
  • Love it!

    By Allison D. F. Ball
    I don't have this in my digital library but I did very much enjoy reading this book. :)