Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “One L: An Insider's View of Harvard Law School” as Want to Read:
One L: An Insider's View of Harvard Law School
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

One L: An Insider's View of Harvard Law School

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  4,527 ratings  ·  373 reviews
Becoming a first-year law student--a "One L"--at the oldest, most esteemed law school in the U. S. threw Scott Turow into a physical, emotional, and intellectual combat zone. An ultimate test by fire of his honesty and principles, in a time of hazings, betrayals, challenges and triumphs--a law school primer.
Paperback, 271 pages
Published September 28th 1978 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1977)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about One L, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about One L

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bi ...more
Apr 24, 2008 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone thinking about law school
Not that I was ever considering going to law school, but Scott Turow's account of his time as a "One L" at Harvard Law School in 1976 squashed that inkling of mine that it might be fun to try.

It's a well-written book, though, and certainly a must for anyone headed down that path. Turow doesn't sugarcoat any of it -- the unyielding professors, the cattiness between students. And just because the story itself is 30 years old doesn't mean it isn't valid: Very few law schools have changed dramatical
Apr 28, 2008 Aaron rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone anyone anyone but law students
Recommended to Aaron by: A bad lawyer
This book is fine, except how people keep insisting it has anything to do with the actual common experience of law school. A good read for anyone who does not want to go to law school, who has already gone to law school and wants to read a book that does not correspond in any way with their own experiences, those lawyers who persist in thinking that law is "really hard" and not just a terminal degree for the aimlessly clever, or those who will find confirmation of their existing prejudices about ...more

Before I started law school, I was repeatedly told to buy best selling author Turow’s version of his first year at Harvard “if for no other reason than everyone else there will have read it”.

Well, I’m one week into law school, and no one has mentioned it, thanks. Still, it wasn’t a totally waste of time. Reading how horrific Turow’s professors were to him steeled me for my first day of class. I was totally ready for someone to cry. No one did. I was almost disappointed at how nice all my profess
Not really a fan. Problems:

- I thought Turow, in protecting the identities of many students and professors, distilled them all into way less interesting, one-note caricatures. The urbane, wealthy aristocrat who makes a diligent but unremarkable student. The nervous basket case who constantly sandbags himself yet gets great grades every time. The scrappy Italian kid from Jersey who balks at authority and likes to make his own way. The pretty blonde with crying outbursts whose frequency serves as
Now, granted, I didn't go to Harvard Law, but I DID attend a fairly high ranked law school and, from my experience, Turow protests FAR too much. It makes for a good story, but oh, the drama! I only wish that William and Mary had been that exciting and filled with academic intrigue!
Jarrod Jenkins
Turow paints a largely accurate picture of the life of a first year student at a top American law school. He describes his gifted, high-achieving, and insufferably competitive peers and professors to a tee. Those who have survived the ordeal will immediately recall their own struggles to comprehend the first few cases they read and briefed, the hours, the jargon, and generally navigating unknown waters--should I buy a hornbook or stick with the thousands of pages of assigned casebook reading, is ...more
Rebekah ODell
Dear Dad,

Thanks for giving me One L to read! You rarely impress upon me the need to read any one book in particular, so when you put this book in my hands I actually put down the book I had recently started and instantly began devouring Turow’s memoir about his first year of law school. I don’t do that often. It stresses me out to put a book aside unfinished in favor of another book (which is also ironic considering the content of One L — it’s all about stress!). One L was also a little unusual
Whiney recounting of Turow's first year at Harvard Law School.
For lawyers, it's a fond look back to a wonderful, occasionally harrowing time. For prospective law school students this book is a wake-up call as to what the study of law will demand of you. If you're entering law school at a time when you're married, have a family, or even a set of very close friends - reading this book will help them understand why you've suddenly disappeared and, on the rare times you do see them, are unable to discuss current events or popular culture.

It submerges you into
The traumatic experiences of Scott Turow at Harvard veneered in not-so subtle fiction. Read it years ago and loved it. My brother, who went to Harvard Law School says it's very true to reality. I was reminded or it by a scene from The Abbey in which Detective Sergeant Ashraf Rashid's cell phone goes off during law class. The professor in The Abbey, who bears a likeness to One L's Professor Perini/Kingsfield admonishes

Scene from The Abbey: “ 'And I’m sorry we allowed a clearly unqualified applic
Feb 26, 2013 Trishé rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aspiring law school students
Shelves: 2013-reads
I really enjoyed reading this first-hand account of Turrow's life as a Harvard Law School 1L. It terrified as well as invigorated me in my yearning to attend law school in the fall. I doubt that this account will be close to my own experiences (though perhaps maybe I'll be inclined to comment on the subject further once I finish my time as a 1L), but I enjoyed taking the journey with him.

I have to make a few comments however on how outdated some of this is, most notably the monetary figures inc
Scott Turow tells his experience as a first-year student at Harvard Law School where freshmen are dubbed One Ls. I first heard about this book when it was recommended by one of our speakers during our orientation as first year law students in a premier university. But I was only able to read it when I was already in third year, or after I got kicked out and transferred to another school. Still, it was not a totally waste of time. I came to understand where I failed or what I lacked in my freshma ...more
The single most read book by people contemplating law school. There are clear pros and cons to this. On the pro side, Turow is a good writer who structures even this supposed transcript of his memoir with a fair amount of novelistic suspense. Our hero must confront good and evil personified by his various professors (seriously, there are times when you'd think you were reading Harry Potter). Ultimately, as in a good modern novel, he must face the true nemesis that lies within (his capacity to cr ...more
Chris Wolak
I never, ever had a desire to go to law school, but for some reason this book called me to it. I heard it mentioned somewhere and then kept running into it at the store where I work. It was on sale for $3.99, so that was another bonus. I haven't read any of Turow's legal thrillers, yet, but I may now. One L is the story of Turow's first year at Harvard Law School in 1977. He covers the emotional ups and downs of that first year and how and why he and his peers changed for the better and how some ...more
When my daughter started law school, a friend of mine who is an attorney recommended I read this book.

Scott Turow wrote this based on his journal of his first year of Harvard Law School. He wrote and published it soon afterward. One L is the term used for first year law students. That is just one of many things I learned about law school and the rigors thereof.

At first I thought "Oh no! What is my daughter in for?" But ultimately it made me think "Wow, when she gets through this she will reall
Mary JL
Mar 28, 2009 Mary JL rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with interest in the law
Recommended to Mary JL by: Familiar with Turow's work
Shelves: non-fiction
Since I have often read legal thrillers, I was interested in how the lawyers are trained. Scott Turow's book about his firt year at Harvard Law School I found very, very interesting.

Some of the technical data may have changed--prices for lawyers; people use laptops now not typewriters and so on. But human nature changes slowly if at all. The pressure, stress and competitiveness that Turow describes no doubt still fairly accurate even after all these years.

I recommended it for any interested in l
An exciting yet nerve-wracking (for an entering One L) account of the first year of law school. Although the harrowing pedagogical methods described by Turow have fallen out of common use in law schools, this is a valuable introduction to how the One L year is structured as well as some of the basic legal concepts discussed. It does not deal much with the substance of the field of law, but is nevertheless valuable for law students, if for no other reason than to know that you are not alone in th ...more
Charles Clymer
I have often heard that any student interested in a legal career should read this book, and although I cannot be an authority on that account, I will say that as someone who is considering law school, "One L" is an engrossing read, marking the ups and down, triumphs and tragedies, and complex psychology of a student's first year at Harvard Law School, considered one of the most demanding academic programs in existence.

This is not at all a boring read. Turow gives enormous life to his experiences
"They're turning me into someone else," claims Turow's classmate Gina, in a lament about the effect of Harvard Law School. "They're making me different" (72). The essence of Turow's memoir seems to be fear: the undermining of identity, the shaking of certainties, the challenging of purpose. The confident superachievers in the HLS student body can stand to be made to feel some of the uncertainty that the rest of us mortals know, but it's no more pleasant to watch them twist and scratch, although ...more
David Greenberg
I am about to be a OneL, so this book meant a lot to me. I can imagine a lot has changed in 35 years, but the emotions have not. I am nervous, and I know my colleagues are too. We will face a different set of challenges than the protagonist, but it is nice to know what I am feeling is normal. Here is to the year!
After making many trips to the local Barnes and Nobles (and reluctantly refusing to buy new books ever since I bought a Nook), I was finally able to finish reading One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year At Harvard Law School. The book is told in a narrative style and follows the author, Scott Turow during his first year at Harvard Law School (thus the title!)

It may seem almost impossible to consolidate the experience of a 1L at HLS into a bound, two hundred page book, Turow does what he
It scared me and inspired me. Fortunately, law school at Wake Forest was hardly like this. It's much better than Harvard!
awfully whiny - makes one want to go to law school, if only to show up the pathetic author
I haven't read a bad Scott Turow story yet. This one is no exception. This story covers his first year at Harvard Law School as a One L. He came in not quite knowing what to expect from law school. He becomes critical of the Socratic method of teaching, but acknowledges that no one quite knows how to replace it and still get student participation.

Exams are a particularly stressful time, as they represent the only source of grades during that period.

One of the parts I liked is when he talked abo
Andrea Devinney
I have read so many bad reviews about this book. Several say that he complains too much. Others say their experience was different. I really enjoyed this book despite my experience being a but different than his.

I was recommended to read this book several times because I began my One L year. I chose to read it after my first year because I didn't want to scare myself off from law school. I go to a school that is WAY less competitive than Harvard, therefore, our experiences are different in some
I was drawn to this book out of a morbid sense of curiosity after completing two years of graduate school myself (though in social work, not law). I wanted to know if a student in a different program, some thirty-plus years earlier would have a similar experience. I was not disappointed. Turow describes how he was drawn to law school after spending some time being an English lecturer, and how some of his classmates and friends came from similar backgrounds and academic levels. He approaches the ...more
Annabel Krantz
“One L” is the story of Scott Turow’s first year as a law student, at the prestigious Harvard Law School (HLS). When I first picked up this book, with its contemporary looking cover, I was excited to finally find a book about a young person’s experience in law school. It took quite a while (and several references to the Korean war) for me to realize that the book had actually first been published in 1977. I was very surprised; other than outdated cultural references, the content relating to life ...more
Catherine Woodman
This is a harrowing tale. One of self inflicted injury--the tale of the first year of law school at Harvard--which is something that has been famously been told over and over again, but this one is told inmemoir style, and soon after the experience, so there is a rawness to it that some of the other law school horror stories lack.

It was written over 30 years ago, and of course the ability to abuse students in such a way has changed--you can still teach Socratically, but the bullying aspect of th
Sep 10, 2009 Jay rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people considering law school
I picked up this book because I've had some time off and I've always been curious about law school. For that, the book gives you an idea of the roller coaster of emotions and the anxiety involved in being a first year law student. However, the book gets repetitive and there are no surprises here. If you've been to college, you get it--just double it. I had a hard time finishing the book because there was nothing big really driving it...I didn't care if he got good grades, cracked up, or made law ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Law School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience: By Students, for Students
  • Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams
  • Gideon's Trumpet
  • A History of American Law
  • Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey
  • The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking about the Law
  • Plain English for Lawyers
  • A Civil Action
  • A People's History of the Supreme Court: The Men and Women Whose Cases and Decisions Have Shaped Our Constitution
  • 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor's Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School (Student Guides)
  • The Buffalo Creek Disaster: How the survivors of one of the worst disasters in coal-mining history brought suit against the coal company--and won
  • Ivy Briefs: True Tales of a Neurotic Law Student
  • Law 101: Everything You Need to Know about the American Legal System
  • Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges
  • Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality
  • School of Dreams: Making the Grade at a Top American High School
  • The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice
  • The Law of Torts: Examples & Explanations
Scott F. Turow is an American author and a practicing lawyer. Turow has written eight fiction and two nonfiction books, which have been translated into over 20 languages and have sold over 25 million copies. Movies have been based on several of his books.

* Kindle County Legal Thriller
More about Scott Turow...
Presumed Innocent (Kindle County Legal Thriller, #1) The Burden of Proof (Kindle County Legal Thriller, #2) Innocent (Kindle County Legal Thriller, #8) Pleading Guilty (Kindle County Legal Thriller, #3) Personal Injuries (Kindle County Legal Thriller, #5)

Share This Book

“The fundamental tension of the profession is the struggle between bold advocacy of the client's interests and the need to establish and hold to limits that prevent advocacy from leading to irrational and inequitable results; and thus the lawyer's job in practice is to be on one hand the impassioned representative of his client to the world, and on the other the wise representative to his client of the legal system, and the society, explaining and upholding the demands and restrictions which that system places on them both. ” 3 likes
“It was something like stirring concrete with my eyelashes.” 1 likes
More quotes…