It would be hard to think of something more unfashionable than a book review, but book reviews perform a valuable service. The in-depth expertise required to tackle a demanding subject likely resides in books, but most of those looking to benefit from that expertise necessarily won’t possess the expertise required to evaluate that expertise. (Catch-22!) Book reviews can help people decide whether they’re willing to make the leap of faith necessary to rely on someone else’s expertise.
A handful of people did reviews of the fourth edition of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. Notable among them are this review by the Law Society Gazette and this opus by Casey Flaherty. I’m eager to have an assortment of reviews of the fifth edition, which will be available in mid-April (see this blog post).
I’m not looking for a breezy item on LinkedIn or Twitter saying “It’s great!” or “It sucks!” And I have in mind something more ambitious than a review on Amazon. (That wouldn’t even be an option initially, as the book won’t be sold on Amazon until late 2023.) MSCD5 is a big, technical book about a fundamental topic, so it would be nice to have reviewers apply some imagination and energy to the task. You could do a review that considers the strengths and weaknesses of MSCD5. (Largely out of discretion, I’ve done only one review of that sort, here.) Or you could consider MSCD5 in a broader context. (I’ve done one essay of that sort, here.) I can think of any number of angles you could explore: The role of lawyers versus people other than lawyers. The role of quality in legal work generally and contracts in particular. The role of expertise in artificial intelligence. Why the legal profession is in the grip of inertia. And so on.
I’d be interested to have reviewers from different constituencies. Students! Junior lawyers at law firms! Partners at law firms! Contract managers at companies! Lawyers at companies! Litigators! Judges! I’d also like reviewers from outside the United States.
You could publish a review in any number of places. Legacy media. A LinkedIn article. Your blog. A trade-group publication like the ACC Docket or WCC’s Contracting Excellence Journal. A social-media clearinghouse like Law Insider or Contract Nerds.
It’s not a condition that you say only nice things about MSCD5! If I got something wrong or could have done something better, I’d like to hear about it.
What’s in it for you? If I think you’re a likely candidate to do a review, I’d ask the American Bar Association to send you a review copy at no cost to you. The ABA has told me that if they incur the cost of sending someone a big, somewhat expensive book with the idea that they do a review, they would prefer it if the review actually materializes!
If you’re interested, please email me at email@example.com, message me on LinkedIn, or DM me on Mastodon or Twitter. Give me a general idea of what you have in mind and where you propose publishing the review. (If you’re unfamiliar with my work but think you might want to use a review as an opportunity to become familiar with it, first read some of my articles and blog posts to get a sense of what I’m about.) I’d look for a sign that you take part in the marketplace of ideas, or at least are keen to do so.