Glorified in The Paper Chase and One L for its intellectual rigor and brilliant students, Harvard Law School receives less deferential treatment from Eleanor Kerlow, author of Poisoned Ivy: How Egos, Ideology, and Power Politics Almost Ruined Harvard Law School (St. Martin’s Press, 340 pp., $22.95). Writing in a breezy, anecdotal style, Kerlow describes an institution that is far more juvenile than judicious. Liberal and conservative professors feud like Hatfields and McCoys over the school’s intellectual focus; the equally fractious students spend more time squabbling and picketing about faculty diversity than they do cracking their casebooks. Kerlow, managing editor at Of Counsel, a D.C.-based legal newsletter, believes the ivory tower that trained Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis Brandeis, and most of the current Supreme Court justices has crumbled, perhaps irreparably, during the past decade. “Harvard Law is like a dysfunctional family,” she says. “It still exists, but it is not in very good shape….It has been the beacon of legal scholarship, but it has lost its allure.” She reads from Poisoned Ivy at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at Vertigo Books.

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