TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, August 14, 2017

'America's Worst One L': How Jeremy Burnside Went From Being The Worst Student In America's Worst Law School To A Successful Lawyer

Look to Your LeftJeremy M. Burnside, Look To Your Left:  A True Story of Law School Survival in the Face of Impossibility, Murder, and an Appalachian Apocalypse (2015):

Forward (by Judge Mark Painter):

Most Lawyers look back on their law school days with a sense of horror and relief.  As Jeremy Burnside reveals in this soul-searching book, law school is a testing ground that forces us to grow and ultimately, we hope, to become capable, caring lawyers. ...

Jeremy Burnside ... struggled with grades and had squabbles with roommates and romantic interests.  But he was far from home, friends, and family.

In what could only be called an Appalachian Apocalypse, the college town was afflicted with an explosion, which destroyed his apartment on the eve of final exams, and a flood.  And three people, including the Dean, were murdered on campus.  These horrendous incidents came on top of his failure to make grades in his first semester. 

Jeremy was enrolled in America’s newest and presumptively worst law school, the Appalachian State Law School, in rural Virginia, which was working toward accreditation.  It had to have a worst student.  Jeremy’s grades were so low the first semester that he was placed on academic probation.  But since he didn’t totally flunk out (by a hair), he was still technically a law student.  But his grade report said it all.  He was America’s worst One L

With an amazing burst of determination, creative study techniques, and self-discipline, Jeremy learned to “think like a lawyer,” and removed from almost certain expulsion.   He became a first-rate law student, graduated, and passed the bar in Ohio and Kentucky.  Burnside is now an outstanding trial lawyer in Portsmouth, Ohio.

As Jeremy tells us in this engaging story, he was faced with an almost impossible situation.  Burnside’s ability to go from academic probation to Dean’s list in one semester was near miraculous.  His experience, as related here, is a true story dramatized by fictional characters and conversations.  It is a classic young man’s coming-of-age tale set in an Appalachian “Paper Chase” environment.  Jeremy’s ordeal is alternately hilarious and perplexing, but ultimately heart-warming and inspiring.

In my thirty years as a trial and appellate judge, I observed thousands of people engaged in the practice of law.  A few are brilliant and some are lacking — but most are sincere in their efforts to effect the best possible outcome for their clients.  They struggle valiantly, drawing upon the resources they acquired in the stressful environment of law school.

The law is a demanding mistress, but she promises a meaningful life of service to those who survive the rigors of law school and studying for the bar.  The young men and women who pursue careers in the law deserve our gratitude and respect.  In a world of declining standards, the law remains one of the last true professions, and lawyers are guardians of our individual rights and liberties.  Yes, some lawyers try to pervert the law and serve sinister interests.  But they are the exceptions. 

Lawyers like Jeremy Burnside exemplify the positive side of law — seeking justice for people, sometimes against long odds.

Publisher's description:

Jeremy Burnside's law school ordeal was much much worse than most. In what could only be called an Appalachian Apocalypse, his college town of Grundy, Va. was afflicted with an explosion, which destroyed his apartment on the eve of final exams, and a flood. And three people, including the Dean, were murdered on campus. These horrendous incidents came on top of his failure to make grades in his first semester.

With an amazing burst of determination, creative study techniques, and self-discipline, Jeremy learned to think like a lawyer, and avoided almost certain expulsion. He became a first-rate law student, graduated, and passed the bar in Ohio and Kentucky. Burnside is now an outstanding trial lawyer in Portsmouth, Ohio.

As Jeremy tells us in this engaging story, he was faced with an almost impossible situation. Burnside's ability to go from academic probation to Dean s list in one semester was near miraculous. His experience, as related here, is a true story dramatized by fictional characters and conversations. It is a classic young man s coming-of-age tale set in an Appalachian Paper Chase environment. Jeremy s ordeal is alternately hilarious and perplexing, but ultimately heart-warming and inspiring.

The law is a demanding mistress, but she promises a meaningful life of service to those who survive the rigors of law school and studying for the bar. The young men and women who pursue careers in the law deserve our gratitude and respect. In a world of declining standards, the law remains one of the last true professions, and lawyers are guardians of our individual rights and liberties. Yes, some lawyers try to pervert the law and serve sinister interests. But they are the exceptions.

Lawyers like Jeremy Burnside exemplify the positive side of law seeking justice for people, sometimes against long odds.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/08/americas-worst-one-l-how-jeremy-burnside-went-from-being-the-worst-student-in-americas-worst-law-sch.html

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Comments

"The law is a demanding mistress, but she promises a meaningful life of service to those who survive the rigors of law school and studying for the bar." Really? Had no idea the law was either female or a mistress.

Posted by: Ann Bartow | Aug 15, 2017 6:39:13 AM

Thanks for the share, Professor Caron. Hope you get a chance to read it. - Jeremy

Posted by: Jeremy Burnside | Aug 23, 2017 5:47:57 PM