Law Stories

Gary Bellow and Martha Minow, Editors
Accounts of law problems and the way they were handled, written by the responsible lawyers


"War stories" is the phrase used by academic lawyers to disparage the ways practicing lawyers talk about their experiences. Gary Bellow and Martha Minow in Law Stories have gathered a group of stories that explore the actual experiences of clients and lawyers in concrete legal contexts.

The essays in Law Stories are all first-person accounts of law problems and the way they were handled, written by lawyers involved in the problems. They offer the voice and insight of the self-reflective practitioner. As such they provide us with a dimension missing from many third-person accounts of cases, a layer of emotion and perspective on legal institutions experienced by people caught or working within them.

Focusing on cases arising in public interest practices, the stories deal with problems arising from child custody, parental rights in a Head Start program, the consequences of large corporate bankruptcy for the corporation's retirees, juvenile crime, unemployment benefits, the rights of a victim of crime, the rights of welfare recipients, and the rights of small shareholders. These stories raise a variety of questions, including the nature and extent of the lawyer's role, the way the system listens to certain kinds of stories told in certain ways and refuses to hear other stories, how participation in the legal system affects the identity of those who are involved in it and how the popular image of law and legal processes differs from the reality depicted in these cases.

This book will appeal to both practitioners and teachers of law as well as social scientists interested in studying the role and place of law in the system.

The contributors include Anthony Alfieri, Gary Bellow, Lenora M. Lapidus, Alice and Staughton Lynd, Martha Minow, Nell Minow, Charles Ogletree, Abbe Smith, Lynne Weaver, and Lucie E. White.

Gary Bellow and Martha Minow are Professors of Law, Harvard Law School.

Praise / Awards

  • "Law Stories is a work of social criticism by recognized scholars who also happen to be dedicated and imaginative teachers. As scholars and teachers, Bellow and Minow have collected from legal practitioners nine stories designed to provoke interrogation of commonplace and taken-for-granted assumptions about legal practice, including the lives of impoverished clients, the prerogatives of wealth, and the marriage of law and power. Self-described as a teaching tool, Law Stories will, however, enlighten not only law students but the general and professional public who will find these accounts as compelling as any work of popular fiction. Unhappily, these accounts of law's inadequacy as a vehicle for social justice are not fictions. . . . Without specifically announcing a systematic political program, the editors nonetheless invite the reader to take a closer look at the ways in which law contributes to subordination and to inequality. . . . Telling these particular law stories may be a way to learn about how the law works and of what legal practice consists, but it is also an act of resistance to conventional legal practice and scholarship."
    Law and Politics Book Review

News, Reviews, Interviews

Review Law and Politics Book Review | 4/1/1997

Product Details

  • 248 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2009
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02288-5

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