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Ivy Briefs: True Tales of a Neurotic Law Student

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A lighthearted true account of a woman student's experiences at the Columbia University School of Law describes how she overcame her insecurities in her development of a competitive outlook throughout the course of her education, which she shared with a host of eccentric fellow students and professors. 40,000 first printing.

276 pages, Hardcover

First published May 15, 2007

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5 stars
51 (14%)
4 stars
120 (34%)
3 stars
120 (34%)
2 stars
49 (14%)
1 star
6 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews
4 reviews3 followers
June 29, 2010
I am a law student, and I laughed out loud throughout this book. It captures a lot of the characters of law school, a lot of the elitism at Ivy League law schools in particular, and some of the real experiences you may endure which help you realize how different professional school (and law school friends) are from your undergraduate friends. I notice many of the reviews seem to be from non-law-students. This is absolutely a book that you will enjoy more if you are in law school. Consider it a great beach read for your post-finals vacations.
Profile Image for Kichi.
99 reviews5 followers
September 13, 2015
I absolutely love how Martha mocks the lofty 'legal profession' personae that some people feel so vainglorious about. She makes them look incredibly cheap. An accomplished Ivy League litigator herself, she casually brings home the point that you don't have to be a high rolling a-hole or a self-absorbed bish to actually be a lawyer. Seriously, you don't have to.
Profile Image for Dina.
580 reviews133 followers
August 25, 2007
Law School would not be for me. :(
Profile Image for Melissa (Catch Up Mode).
4,576 reviews1,882 followers
May 22, 2019
Excellent memoir about a woman's experience in law school. It would have been even better had she provided an epilogue with "the rest of the story" about her life.

Ivy Briefs is a fascinating and insightful look into law school and beyond. Author Martha Kimes takes the reader on a journey with her through admittance to law school, three years of schooling, and all of the ups and downs in between. In this funny yet very true to life and entertaining memoir, Kimes shows readers the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of becoming a laywer.

A Midwesterner with a penchant for standardized testing, Martha Kimes aces the LSAT and ends up admitted to Columbia law school, one of the top-ranked schools in the country. She and her husband move to New York City, a huge change itself, and embark on a three-year, 24-hour-a-day, brain-taxing ride. The reader gets to experience life right along with the author, from her professors to the awe-inspiring amount of studying to the cut-throat world of interviewing, internships, and job hunting.

Ivy Briefs is an entertaining read. It moves at a fast pace, keeping the reader involved and intrigued throughout. I am sure that those who have experienced law school firsthand will really identify with the incidents and people she describes. For those like me, who have never even considered law something remotely interesting, she makes her experiences so universally applicable that the story is good anyway.

One thing that missing is “the rest of the story.” It’s obvious from her author bio that she doesn’t keep the job she got right after law school graduation. It would have been nice to know the journey her life has taken since the end of the book. Maybe she’s planning a sequel, but still, a couple of paragraphs of follow-up would be appropriate.

Overall, Ivy Briefs is compulsively readable and should appeal to a wide variety of people—lawyers and non-legal-types alike.
Profile Image for Michael.
11 reviews
April 5, 2008
I absolutely loved this book...set from the perspective of a young law student, Ivy Briefs provides a humorous yet gritty account of the trials and tribulations of a modern day law student. If you're interested in Law or the legal process, buy this book. Now.
Profile Image for Sara.
25 reviews4 followers
July 11, 2010
I am about to begin my law school journey in August and thouroughly enjoyed this book. I cannot review the book based on accuracy but it is similar to OneL. I enjoyed that it depicted her entire law school career rather than just the first year.
44 reviews4 followers
July 11, 2012
Meh. Definitely makes me happy that I never went the law school route. Although, I will say, after having spoken to lawyer friends I know who have experienced life in a mega law firm in cities like NYC and Chicago, apparently Kimes's own experience/depiction is very accurate.
7 reviews
August 18, 2008
Entertaining, but overall pretty shallow. I read it in a night, but was never too caught up in the story- the insider stuff is interesting, but it reads like one long blog entry.
Profile Image for Scott.
185 reviews7 followers
May 23, 2013
The "best book of its kind since One L"? Give me a break. I'd rather just re-read One L.
Profile Image for Heather.
3 reviews1 follower
July 7, 2013
A fun, easy read for the aspiring law student.
1 review
August 20, 2014
Clever and I learned a bit, though it was sometimes hard to identify with the protagonist
Profile Image for Stephanie Cianci .
103 reviews1 follower
September 11, 2017
As a recently Law School grad, I found this book to be 100000% accurate and anyone who wants to go to LS should read it. It doesn't matter, seemingly, if you go to Columbia or to XYZ Local Law School, there are some timeless parts of law school that never change. The writing was accurate, witty and easy to read.
Profile Image for Whitney.
62 reviews
January 5, 2018
Every 1L student should be required to read this book during winter break. The relief that comes from hearing the self-depriciating humor of a former student of law, for a student right in the midsts of it all, is an absolute necessity for any self-worth left after surviving the first semester.
48 reviews
August 12, 2020
A quick, witty read. I found the author/main character infinitely more relatable than that of One L. Would definitely recommend Ivy Briefs over One L for any incoming or prospective law students, though both are well-written and worthwhile.
Profile Image for Robert.
Author 1 book38 followers
December 28, 2007
A number of people have written about this book as a portrait of law school and its depiction of the unique experiences of law students. It would be a mistake, however, for the potential reader to consign this entertaining and irresistible work to the niche of legal anecdotes.

Martha Kimes has written a memoir of her days in the high pressure world of Columbia Law School that transcends its specific setting. You don't have to be a law student to identify with her persistent feeling that she is in over her head and doesn't belong, nor to appreciate her tenacious pursuit of her goal despite her lingering self-doubts. Ultimately, Kimes has penned a quest story, a journey through hallowed halls peopled by characters familiar to anyone who has ever studied with the best and brightest and most competitive of their chosen field.

In the end, Martha Kimes finds success without pretention, and no one seems more surprised by that than herself. The book is like that as well. It's a fun and compelling journey through a lofty world most of us will never experience, guided by the girl next door.
Profile Image for Topher.
1,432 reviews
June 25, 2021
Not a bad read, light entertainment about what it would be like to be in Law School. I took the LSATs my senior year of college and did well. I really thought about it at the time, but, I was pretty sure I was going to be getting married (and I did) and wouldn't be able to support a family (which, thankfully, was a non-issue) if I was in law school. From time to time, I ponder this decision. Its one of many that I can't decide if I made the right choice or not.

Personally, I think it sounds a heck of a lot easier than the PhD - in some ways, temptingly so. Would a JD / PhD in Geology lead to interesting employment? And, I find myself in the same shoes I wore 12 years ago. Law school would be 3 more years of school after the PhD is done, 3 more years before I'd want to get married and have kids. I'd be pushing 40 at that point. And, unlike grad school (at least in the sciences), it'd be 3 years of tuition and no stipend or other sort of pay. Do I want to be 40, trying to start a family, and 100-150K in debt?

So, like I said, can't really say if I made the right choice or not when I chose to look for employment after college.....
Profile Image for DJ.
43 reviews1 follower
February 11, 2010
on the one hand, it's a relief there's something out there other than One L (or The Paper Chase... or Legally Blonde), and written by a married woman & U Wisconsin alumna. at some points her sense of humor really brings to light the loss of perspective that I've been told grips most law school students - at least at Ivy League schools. (I haven't been to law school myself though)

on the other hand... her values differ so vastly from mine that it was hard to maintain interest and finish the book. the message seems to be that material wealth and social status should be the primary focus not just of the law school student, but of every human being! she essentially scoffs at those who enter law school for any other reason.

I think readers should know what happened to her after the book ends. she became an attorney in the 90's, it's 2010. she no longer lives in NYC, she's raising two sons with her husband. according to a 2007 interview, she's Assistant General Counsel to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. I'd be interested to know to what degree her experiences after law school (or after finishing the book) may have changed her perspective. follow-up book? I'd buy it.
Profile Image for Debby.
28 reviews8 followers
November 30, 2007
Read this if you're going or have been to some law affiliated educational institution. It's funny but I think it'd be boring or lost on anyone without knowledge of law and how it is taught/studied.

"As it turned out, I hadn't really left Wisconsin for the Big City. I had left Wisconsin for what turned out to be a place just like my small town all over again." Reduction of the new to the old.

"...those people from the 'lesser schools' had been learning actual, practical, useful, bar-exam relevant law...While I had been learning how to think like a lawyer, they had been learning how to be lawyers. And that put them in far better shape then me." Rankings are propaganda, American education is a racket. Congratulations you've earned a degree in regurgitation and that pays zero. Can you walk the walk?
Profile Image for Lesley.
182 reviews
June 5, 2009
When they say neurotic, they're not kidding around. What they don't tell you is that it's a little insightful but also quite humourous. Was an enjoyable read but I'm not sure if I was wanting to go to Law School (especially Columbia) that it would do anything but make me a little neurotic. At the end when she's sitting around in the LSAT prep course with others from Tier 4 schools, I had a huge grin on my face. Read it and find out why. It just goes to show that all colleges and universities AREN'T created equally.
Profile Image for Brian Hofmeister.
11 reviews2 followers
April 3, 2008
This book gives real insight into not only law school, but the culture of ivy-league law school. My feelings are that there's probably a top-down effect and what's true for the ivy-league level is probably also true for the lower echelons, so I think this would be a good book to read for those in pre-law or people deciding if they want to go into law.

Also, it was just written well and kinda cute and funny and I laughed aloud a couple times. I also read it very quickly, probably over a week (for me that's really quickly).
586 reviews15 followers
August 1, 2009
We got this as a dollar book at Borders. And that was about right. It was definitely a dollar's worth of entertainment, but it wasn't anything particularly fantastic. It was definitely fun to see this woman go through all the craziness of law school--obnoxious professors, other psychotic students, and all. And it sure made me glad that I decided early not to go into law. No matter how cool I think it would be to be some bigwig lawyer.

It was a while ago, but I seem to recall some swearing and not much else problematic.
Profile Image for Ashley.
42 reviews1 follower
May 5, 2008
I'm not a law student, and after reading this book I never want to be a law student. However, it was a highly entertaining book, and I could relate to Kime's in my work and graduate school experience. She divulges her insecurites in a real and hilarious way that made me laugh while thinking "Yes! I know exactly what you mean!"

I would not recommend this book to anyone who takes offense at language, however.
4 reviews
June 20, 2009
The title is very accurate. Neurotic completely describes the author. The read is very entertaining, and very quick. I consumed the entire story in one sitting, and enjoyed every page. From my perspective of a prospective law student, I wish it had focused on a few things more than others, and I wish that it had extended further than it did into her career. However, it is a very entertaining read.
Profile Image for Scottsdale Public Library.
3,225 reviews214 followers
February 1, 2017
A lighthearted companion piece to Scott Turow's One L, this look at a first year law student's emotional roller coaster ride ranges from the first notification of acceptance by the Columbia University law school to the satisfying conclusion of the year. The self-doubts, the mind games, the hierarchies of power, and the casualties experienced and examined by Kimes lead her to a stronger belief in herself and her abilities.
--Chris H.
1 review
July 10, 2007
I hate to be cynical, but I was kind of dissapointed with this book. After having read Jen Lancaster's Bitter is the New Black, this book pretty much pales in comparison. (Which is interesting...because apparently Jen reviews and works with Martha on her book...perhaps they're friends?!) There are parts that are amusing, and it did offer decent insight on what law school is really like.
Profile Image for Maureen.
294 reviews2 followers
March 24, 2010
A fun and quick read that I suspect may be lost on those not familiar with the legal profession (much like the exact level of outrage and shock that Legally Blond truly deserved). It was definitely entertaining enough, but not something I would particularly re-read or give to some random person on the street.
72 reviews8 followers
June 26, 2007
I hve been reading Martha Kimes' blog for a while now. When she said she had a book coming out, I knew I would be buying it.

A humorous look at life in law school. I'm pretty sure her husband is a saint! Great read.
Profile Image for Sara.
64 reviews1 follower
October 18, 2007
This book was above average. Often I got lost in the law vocab, but that was expected (given the title). I would really like to see a second book come from this author to talk about how Columbia affected her life after she was out for good.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 48 reviews

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