what I’m reading: biglaw by lindsay cameron.

biglawI put this book on my To Read list after I saw it reviewed on a couple of legal sites and was intrigued. A book about a lawyer – count me in! It’s gotten a lot of good reviews so I was excited to read it for myself.

But after finishing the novel, I have to question – did we read the same book?

Mackenzie is a second year associate at a BigLaw firm in New York. You know she works at a BigLaw firm because the author only mentions it about once every 5 pages (but that’s a whole different thing). Mackenzie has a boyfriend that she hardly ever sees and a mentor whose idea of mentoring is making snide remarks about Mackenzie’s work and her leaving early. When Mackenzie is offered the chance to work on 2 big deals at the firm, she knows it could be ticket to getting noticed and getting on the coveted partner track. However, when she finds herself the focus of a serious investigation, she realizes she could lose everything she’s worked for.

I couldn’t really tell what genre this book is supposed to be. Is it humor? Satire? It didn’t really seem to be a romance. Was it chick lit? Fiction? I couldn’t tell you.

Many of the people and things in this book seemed over the top and extremely exaggerated. The partners and other lawyers were portrayed as crazy, unhinged people who spend all day yelling at their subordinates. The other characters seemed almost cartoonish as there were multiple descriptions of people thundering down the hall and their faces turning purple from screaming.

Needless to say, I found the characters to be completely unbelievable and over-dramatized and the majority of the characters seemed to have no redeeming qualities. Perhaps I found the characters and scenarios to be so far-fetched because I’ve never worked at a BigLaw firm before. The law firms I’ve temped at have been large law firms, but they weren’t what you would consider BigLaw. Still, I’ve never seen anybody rant or yell at someone, or call someone stupid in front of other employees, or give someone the side-eye because they went home at 9pm.

Additionally, it was hard to believe that someone as smart as Mackenzie was supposed to be, would fail to notice the abundance of hints and clear foreshadowing that occurred regarding a major plot point. To me it was obvious as I easily guessed what was going on and it seemed like the only person who couldn’t figure it out was Mackenzie.

Honestly, with all the verbal abuse that Mackenzie is subjected to, I found myself yelling at the character to just quit already. For instance, when the partner emails her at 2am asking for a document and then gets mad because she’s sleeping or when a different partner gets angry because Mackenzie wants to take Christmas Day off to see her family and then emails her anyway and tells her to fax a 200 page document to another partner who is on vacation, I found these scenes unreasonable. But then again, I’ve never worked in Biglaw. These incidents could be fairly common.

There was plenty of brand and designer name-dropping, which I gather is supposed to show why Mackenzie stays at her job – so she can buy those $600 shoes from Saks. I rolled my eyes more than once at the overindulgence depicted by Mackenzie. For instance, instead of wasting time walking to the subway, Mackenzie has a towncar drive her home and sit outside her apartment while she sleeps so that it will be there when she is ready to go back into work in the morning.

Clearly I was not the intended audience for this book. Perhaps someone more familiar with BigLaw could relate to this novel, but it just did not work for me.


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