Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Yale-Law-School-Room-127I consider Supreme Ambitions to be a “commercial” rather than “literary” novel, and I wanted it to be a fun, quick read. It seems that the average reader finishes it in about two days, which I take as a sign of success.

At the same time, I do believe Supreme Ambitions is a book of some substance. It explores important themes, including ambition, prestige, various “isms” in the legal profession (including sexism and elitism), law versus politics, and ethics.

In fact, the main ethical dilemma in the book has actually given rise to an interesting debate between two legal academics: Peter Conti-Brown, a fellow at Stanford Law School and future professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and Will Baude, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

You can read Conti-Brown’s and Baude’s pieces via the links below. Please note: they do (by necessity) contain plot spoilers, so I’d refrain from reading them until you’ve read Supreme Ambitions. My thanks to the good professors for engaging so thoughtfully with the book.

Book Review – Supreme Ambitions: A Novel [Notice & Comment / Yale Journal on Regulation]
When, if ever, should law clerks betray their bosses? [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]
Law Clerks and Duties of Loyalty: More on David Lat’s Supreme Ambitions [Notice & Comment / Yale Journal on Regulation]

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I woke up this morning to find myself next to a half-naked Bradley Cooper.

I woke up this morning to find myself next to a half-naked Bradley Cooper.

Today’s New York Times contained a great feature story by Alexandra Alter about Supreme Ambitions and its publisher — Ankerwycke, the new trade imprint of the American Bar Association devoted to legal fiction and more accessible nonfiction. As the Times observes, Ankerwycke is a noteworthy departure for the ABA, “whose publishing arm is known for handbooks like the 1,400-page Compendium of State Certificate of Title Laws.”

The Times notes that Supreme Ambitions has been eagerly anticipated within legal-nerd circles: “[F]or an elite niche — consisting largely of federal judges and their clerks — Supreme Ambitions has become the most buzzed-about novel of the year.”

Here are some additional highlights from the article. There are some kind words about me:


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Supreme Ambitions cover high resolutionProfessor Will Baude, writing about Supreme Ambitions over at the Volokh Conspiracy, issued what might just be my favorite verdict on the book so far: “I still can’t decide whether this is a ridiculous book or an insightful one. It might be both.” As you might expect from me as the creator of Underneath Their Robes, a site that I like to think was both ridiculous and insightful, I took this as high praise indeed — an even greater compliment than Baude’s calling Supreme Ambitions “the best quasi-fictional account of law school that I have read (even though much of it is immediately post-law school).”

One thing I’ve enjoyed about reading book reviews is noticing how different reviewers pick up on different things. Rosemarie Yu, reviewing the book for the New York Law Journal, clearly sensed — and shared — the great affection I feel for Judge Christina Wong Stinson, the judicial diva who is my favorite creation. Yu quite aptly described Judge Stinson as “the charming, silver-tongued villainess that you secretly root for.”

Supreme Ambitions is now making its way into the hands of people other than reviewers. Folks who have ordered the book through Politics & Prose, Powell’s, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon have reported receiving their copies or notifications that their copies are about to ship.

If you’re a reader of Supreme Ambitions with feedback on the book, or if you’d like to contact me for any other reason, please don’t hesitate to email me.

Book Review: ‘Supreme Ambitions’ by David Lat [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]
Book Review: Supreme Ambitions [New York Law Journal]

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Writing in the National Law Journal, Tony Mauro has warm words for Supreme Ambitions. He praises the book as “a thriller that captures the law clerk experience masterfully, with all its intensity, competitiveness, big-bucks allure and prestige.” Mauro also unpacks some of the backstory behind the book, situates it within the larger context of “clerk lit,” and picks up on some of the little details in Supreme Ambitions aimed at SCOTUS obsessives.

Considering that Mauro is one of the nation’s leading Supreme Court correspondents and a longtime chronicler of the SCOTUS clerk phenomenon, I am especially grateful for his praise. Check out his full article via the link below.

David Lat Channels Law Clerk Experience in ‘Supreme Ambitions’ [National Law Journal (reg. required)]

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Yale Law School

Yale Law School

As the release date for Supreme Ambitions approaches, a few more reviews and other mentions of the book have appeared in the media.

Most recently, Professor Ilya Somin reviewed Supreme Ambitions for the widely read and highly influential Volokh Conspiracy. Professor Somin praised the book as “an engrossing page-turner that focuses on the seemingly unlikely subject of federal judges and their law clerks…. an impressive first novel, one of the best that has ever been written about the federal judiciary. It is a great read for anyone interested in the world of federal judges and their sometimes overly ambitious clerks.”

Over at Above the Law, the legal website that I founded and still edit, outside columnist Mark Herrmann also wrote a positive review. Herrmann — a former clerk for the Ninth Circuit, the court where the book is set — commended the book for its realism: “Does Supreme Ambitions ring true to me? Absolutely.”

Finally, in an article for the Yale Daily News, reporter Phoebe Kimmelman used Supreme Ambitions as the jumping-off point for an interesting exploration of the current state of clerkship hiring. According to Kimmelman, “[f]or Yalies, the book hits close to home. But it also delves into a topic that both drives and haunts many students at Yale Law School and beyond — judicial clerkships.”

David Lat’s Supreme Ambitions [Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]
Do You Harbor Supreme [Court] Ambitions? [Above the Law]
YLS students give mixed reviews of clerkship process [Yale Daily News]

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