John Osborn John Jay Osborn John Osborne Paper Chase Above the Law.jpgWe just got back from a most engaging luncheon talk at the NYLS legal writing conference by John Jay Osborn, a law professor at the University of San Francisco and author of the 1973 novel, The Paper Chase (which led to a movie and television series).
Here’s the Westlaw headnotes version of John Osborn’s talk:

Law students, you need to rediscover and take back your narratives. Law school is all about forcing you to give up your narrative and play by someone else’s rules. Don’t let them do that to you.

Osborn covered a number of topics during the course of his remarks — legal education, law and literature (especially Bleak House), the trajectory of legal careers, the genesis and evolution of The Paper Chase. Great stuff.
Here are a few money quotes. On Scott Turow’s One L, which someone raised in Q-and-A:

“One L is competent,” he sniffed. “But it doesn’t have a HEART.”

Osborn, a former associate at Patterson Belknap, left the legal world for a year to write. He encourages lawyers not to be afraid of trying new things or stepping off the treadmill:

“The nice thing about the law is you can go away and come back… Don’t be afraid to go off and do different things. They’ll ALWAYS take you back. They ALWAYS need associates.”

Finally, Osborn shared with us a great quote from John Houseman, the actor and producer who won an Oscar for his work in The Paper Chase.
Some folks wanted Houseman to perform a scene in The Paper Chase that he didn’t like. He refused, declaring: “I’m too old and too rich to put up with this bulls**t.”
Author of The Paper Chase Joins USF School of Law [USF School of Law]


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