Archive for July, 2011

Book Review: Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned

Book Review: Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned.  Farrell, John A.  Doubleday, 2011.  Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0-385-52258-8, $32.50.  564 pages.

Sometimes I wish I had majored in history instead of any of the five majors I went through in college, culminating in broadcasting.  If you’re rolling your eyes at my poor choice, I assure you my parents did too, just as I am now.  Not only is everything I learned in broadcasting obsolete, but I’ve missed out on reading a lot of biographies of fascinating historical figures.  Now that I’m a law librarian (a few careers later), I eagerly await every chance to read and evaluate legal biographies and other relevant history books.  Historian John A. Farrell’s meticulously-researched Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned was one of the most entertaining and insightful histories I’ve enjoyed in a long time.  I think this story of America’s most famous (and infamous) trial lawyer is a necessary purchase for law school library collections, but it’s comprehensive enough to recommend it for undergraduate libraries, and interesting and accessible enough for public libraries as well.

Clarence Darrow was born in 1857 and raised in pastoral Kinsman, Ohio, the fifth of eight children.  His father Amirus was a furniture maker and shopkeeper by trade, but also a well-read scholar and anti-authoritarian idealist.  His tendencies rubbed off on Clarence, who attended the University of Michigan school of law in 1877, but despite his gift for oratory, he only lasted a year.  In that era, most lawyers did not attend law school, but learned the trade clerking for other attorneys and studied for the bar exam on their own.  (Law students will be fascinated by that part!)

Darrow eventually moved to Chicago, the bustling center of late-19th Century America, and quickly built a reputation as a shrewd trial lawyer and ally to oppressed, unpopular underdogs.  He defended penniless petty criminals, notorious Chicago gangsters, controversial labor leaders like Eugene V. Debs and “Big Bill” Haywood, and even the insane Patrick Prendergast, who assassinated Chicago mayor Carter Harrison.  Darrow made money where he could, representing wealthy and respectable clients, and all the while navigated through Chicago’s heavily corrupt political scene as a populist and a progressive, a Democrat and a fiery radical.

Through all of this, Darrow married twice, but was a known rake and philanderer throughout both marriages.  He was witty and debonair, intellectual and flamboyant, and believed strongly in free love (and sex) without consequences.  In that regard, like so many others, Darrow was decades ahead of his time, allying himself with fellow radicals, socialists, union leaders, suffragists, feminists, anarchists, atheists, anti-Prohibitionists, hedonists, muckraking journalists, loose women, and other bohemian types throughout the Gilded Age.  He had black friends and helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and also played a role in founding the organization that became the American Civil Liberties Union.

Darrow’s career, fortune, and reputation faltered in his 50s when he defended the McNamara brothers, who bombed the anti-union Los Angeles Times building, and was indicted for bribing two jurors (which he most likely did).   A staunch enemy of the death penalty, Darrow was willing to do anything to save his clients’ lives, regardless of legal ethics.  However, the strenuous back-to-back trials in California ruined his Chicago-based law practice, exhausted his meager savings, diminished his physical health, and sent him spiraling into a deep depression.

Fortunately, Darrow rebounded, and argued some of the most famous trials of his career later in his life: defending (and saving the lives of) homosexual spree killers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, and then defending the high school science teacher John Scopes, who dared teach Darwin’s theory of evolution in heavily Christian Tennessee.  In this, the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial,” the cynical atheist Darrow triumphed over his old political rival William Jennings Bryan, a fundamentalist Christian and outspoken critic of evolution, when both men were in the twilight of long, illustrious careers.

I definitely think law students and other non-history majors (like me) will appreciate having access to a book like Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned.  Darrow was far from perfect, but his heroism, honor, and heart outweigh his flaws.  His triumphant life should be an inspiration to anyone entering the practice of law, and the way Farrell presents his story is certainly worth owning, reading, and sharing.

Louis Rosen is a Reference Librarian and Assistant Professor of Law Library at Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida.

Peter Groves. 2011. A Dictionary of Intellectual Property Law. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. 352pp. $155.00.

Although Peter Groves’ dictionary on intellectual property (IP) is not as thick as a typical dictionary, it packs of lot of information in its pages. It is an accessible and interesting reference work that belongs in collections relating to UK and international IP law. Researchers looking for a dictionary solely consisting of U.S. terms should look elsewhere.

In his entry on “intellectual property,” Groves notes that IP is “not a unitary area of law: it is a combination of several areas of law that had existed for years, and had often been practiced by the same people and which have long been studied together, but which did not form a single body of law.” (p. 162) This reality is evident throughout the book—for instance, the “Machine-or-Transformation Test,” a part of U.S. patent doctrine, appears barely a page away from “Magill,” a European Community case on competition in the use of IP rights. The entries are arranged alphabetically and irrespective of area of law, so browsing through the book one sees an interesting assortment of terms relating mostly to patent, trademark, and copyright law. Even concepts less commonly thought of in relation to IP appear, such as traditional knowledge, trade dress, indications of origin, and special protections for markings of the Olympics and Red Cross.

Each clearly and concisely written entry ranges from a couple sentences to just over a page. Occasionally Groves lightens his explanations with witty remarks (he notes that “Yorkshire Relish,” the sole entry under Y, is “useful for anyone trying to compile an alphabetical collection of expressions used in intellectual property law [.]” (p. 334)) In addition to discussing major terms of art, Groves covers important IP treaties, cases, and legislation.

The book focuses on European and international IP terms, though entries relating to other countries show up from time to time. Groves generally selects one definition for each term, even if that term has different meanings in different jurisdictions. For example, “format shifting” is described using UK law. Whether the term has different meanings in other jurisdictions is not noted. This is a minor quibble—including every possible sense of every term would surely balloon the book’s word count—but researchers should know that further searching may be needed if Groves does not mention the desired jurisdiction.

Groves includes many citations to both primary and secondary sources in the entries, such that a table of authorities would be a nice addition to a future edition. A companion website ( collects entries for terms that may be added in the next edition. Some entries relate to U.S. law, but Groves’ dictionary will be most useful to researchers interested in non-U.S. and international IP systems.

Reviewed by Benjamin J. Keele, Reference Librarian at the Wolf Law Library, College of William and Mary.

© 2011 Benjamin J. Keele. This work is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Learn to Create Effective Employee Manuals

Your staff procedure manual and staff policy manual provide the foundation for good communication throughout your organization. Join Holly Anne Lakatos, law librarian at the California Court of Appeal – 3rd District, for the August 17 AALL webinar, Documenting Your Success: Creating Employee Manuals, at 11 a.m. CDT, and learn how to maximize this important documentation in your library. Topics will include: workflow descriptions, policy alignment, consistency, and specific language for difficult problems.
Register by August 10.

Book Review: Research Handbook on the Economics of Property Law, edited by Kenneth Ayotte and Henry E. Smith

Kenneth Ayotte and  Henry E. Smith, eds.  Research Handbook on the Economics of Property Law. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2011 399 pages); $210.00 hardcover edition.

Research Handbook on the Economics of Property Law, edited by Kenneth Ayotte and Henry E. Smith, is a collection of new essays on the expansive subject of the interrelations of property law and economics.  This volume discusses new directions that are being taken in the economic analysis of property law (1).  Edward Elgar’s website asserts that “legal scholars, economists, and other social scientists interested in property will find this handbook an often-referenced addition to their libraries,” and this seems as if it could prove to be accurate.  It would also be an excellent acquisition for law school libraries as well as pertinent for practitioners specializing in property law.

According to the publisher’s website, this collection features “leading scholars in the field of law and economics [contributing] their original theoretical and empirical research…on property law from an economic point of view.”  Lending fresh perspectives to the current body of literature, contributing authors are primarily American law professors who are widely published in the field of law and economics, including professors from such prestigious schools as Yale, Harvard, and Columbia.  The book contains 17 chapters covering such topics as marital property, bankruptcy, intellectual property, and servitudes.  Of particular interest are the chapters discussing the topic of open access to public resources and the
issues that can arise.  The volume includes an extensive index that includes both specific topics and relevant cases.  Each chapter is also complete with references for further reading and research.  For the price, this book is well worth the investment.

 Reviewed by Stacy Fowler, Technical Services Librarian at the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library, St. Mary’s University School of Law.

July 2011

Share this blog


All ads appearing on the AALL Spectrum Blog are generated by WordPress.