Masquerade

masqueradeThe theme of the last few days for me, at least in regard to some small corners of the law blog world, has turned out to be the failure of anonymity.

Item one: Someone has apparently worked out who Pupilblog is.
Item two: I’ve been reading Anonymous Lawyer, the book, in which the difficulty of anonymity is an engine of the plot.

[Disclaimer. I was contacted by Jeremy Blachman of Anonymous Lawyer fame to ask would I like a free copy of the book with a view to its publicity. I said yes, but editorial comment, if any, is mine. I’m a sucker for a freebie.].

To take item two first, Anonymous Lawyer is a blog turned book, an increasing phenomenon. Most people are likely to know the blog, purportedly the outpourings of a hiring partner at a large US corporate firm (now flagged as fictional). Mirabile dictu, the blog’s author was neither anonymous, nor a lawyer, although some people clearly wanted to believe in the fictional author.

As a satire on the meat grinder of corporate firms and their mentality, the blog is often very funny. And the book is… often very funny. By the nature of the novel, though, which apparently requires such things as plot, confrontation, resolution and character development, the satire tends to require a greater weight of significance – Making a Comment on the Way We Live Now or somesuch.

I’m not sure the book quite suceeds in this regard. There are some passages that give the unreliable narrator a real depth of character and also passages of genuine pathos, but, aside from the fact that big corporate firms do very little for the life of the spirit, I’m not sure what the point is. But then again, maybe I’m just trying to read too much into it.

Law or the practice thereof, plays little to no part, leaving the odd sense that this could equally easily be Anonymous Accountant or Anonymous Management Consultant. This may, of course, be entirely intentional.

That said, the book is thoroughly entertaining and certainly kept me reading with enthusiasm. It handles the blog to book transition better than others I have read, integrating the blog’s bon mots into the narrative development smoothly, rather than with an audible copy and paste. And dammit, the whippersnapper is only 28 (which may account for the suggestion that life is effectively over in terms of achievement by one’s mid 30s).

Anonymity and unmasking is a major plot device in Anonymous Lawyer. I sincerely hope that Pupilblog’s personal narrative is not so dramatically affected by being discovered.

Pupilblog wisely doesn’t say what had given the game away, luckily only to a sympathetic individual, but it is a reminder for the anonymous law blogger that each area of law is a pretty small world and that anything about cases, individuals, workplaces etc. must have all non-salient points changed – not just for personal protection but at times from professional duty. Not easy to do in a diary format like Pupilblog’s, but necessary, I think.

Whether Pupilblog continues in its existing form or not, the writer should certainly keep something going. The writing is very engaging and this is a voice it would be a pity to lose.

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Various (non-housing) and tagged , .

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