I figured it out not very long after Anonymous Lawyer started up. It was clearly someone who was reading the same combination of blogs that I was -- someone who, like me, had watched the How Appalling satire site pop up, and who had watched the And What Thanks kerfluffle on Evan Schaeffer's blog. It was someone who was thinking creatively about the genre of the blog, and its potential. And it was pretty clearly a law student (who would see the hiring partner, rather than the managing partner, as the most interesting perspective within a fictional BIGLAW). Jeremy was writing his own blog, had just finished running the hiring gauntlet, and was not only guest-blogging at Crescat but was planning and conceiving a concept for a group blog at De Novo. I suspected Jeremy when I wrote this post, and sure enough I got a friendly email from him wondering who I thought Anonymous Lawyer's author was, which clinched it for me. He fessed up readily after I revealed my suspicions.
So since then I've been lucky enough to have glimpses into the sausage factory as Jeremy's been pulling this stunt. I even tagged along for a while, and wrote my own fictional blog, from the point of view of an associate at Anonymous Lawyer's firm, who may or may not have had a little affair with Anonymous Lawyer. Jeremy and I would coordinate a story line, or some details about the firm that we would both include on a particular day, from a different point of view. It was a fun little exercise in collaborative fiction, and fun to try to write in a voice different from my own, as a character I didn't like all that much. A few folks caught on -- I got a few emails from friendly associates warning the character that there was a partner in her firm who had a blog, too, and she should watch her back. But hardly anybody was reading Becky Turtle, even as Anonymous Lawyer's audience grew, so I killed her off after a couple of months by sending her overseas to the firm's London office.
Besides getting to watch Jeremy's formidable talents at work (and becoming good real-life friends with Jeremy over the spring and summer), I've learned a bunch from the Anonymous Lawyer phenomenon, about our profession and about blogs as a medium. But I don't feel like writing it all right now. Basically, the three big lessons for me are: 1) the blog as a medium has an inherent credibility. 2) Humans in general, and lawyers in particular, are amazingly susceptible to status and heirarchy -- Anonymous Lawyer's appeal was the perception of access to honesty from the upper stratus of the standard professional heirarchy, and the delicious way the author could make explicit all the power struggles and displays of status and power within a law firm. Jeremy can convey that in beautiful, elegant turns of phrase. 3) The profession really is draining talent, energy, and enthusiasm from a huge hunk of lawyers, which is a travesty. Anonymous Lawyer was fiction, but too many people recognized themselves in the mirror Jeremy held up. It makes me really sad.