Stracher, Cameron

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Stracher, Cameron

PERSONAL:

Married; wife's name Christine; children: Simon, Lulu. Education: Amherst College, graduated; Harvard Law School, graduated; Iowa Writers' Workshop, M.F.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—New York, NY. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, novelist, memoirist, educator, legal consultant, and attorney. New York Law School, New York, NY, professor of law and codirector, program in law and journalism; Institute for Information Law & Policy, faculty member; Center for Professional Values & Practice, faculty member. University of Iowa College of Law, former instructor in legal writing; Covington & Burling (law firm), Washington, DC, former attorney; Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz (law firm), New York, NY, former partner; CBS Television, former litigation counsel; served as a commercial litigator. Acts as a legal consultant for media outlets.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Ames Moot Court Competition winner, Harvard Law School; New York Foundation for the Arts fiction fellowship, 1998.

WRITINGS:

The Laws of Return (novel), William Morrow (New York, NY), 1996.

Double Billing: A Young Lawyer's Tale of Greed, Sex, Lies, and the Pursuit of a Swivel Chair (memoir), William Morrow (New York, NY), 1998.

Dinner with Dad: How I Found My Way Back to the Family Table (memoir), Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

Author of the blog Dinner with Dad. Contributor to periodicals and journals, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and American Lawyer. New York Law School Law Review, publisher.

SIDELIGHTS:

Author and attorney Cameron Stracher is a memoirist and novelist. He is a graduate of two of the most prestigious programs in their respective fields—Harvard Law School and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. A professor of law and the codirector of the program in law and journalism and the New York Law School, Stracher teaches classes in legal scholarship and in newsgathering and the law, reported a biographer on the New York Law School Web site. Among his other academic duties at New York Law School, he holds workshops and conducts tutorials on topics in writing and editing for students involved in the school's law review. He also serves as the publisher of the New York Law School Law Review, where many of the students practice the skills learned in Stracher's writing and editing classes.

Stracher has worked as an attorney in a number of law firms, as a commercial litigator in New York and, until 2004, as a partner in the New York City firm of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz. He worked as litigation counsel for the CBS television network, where he "specialized in First Amendment litigation and other legal issues facing the media," reported the biographer on the New York Law School Web site. Stracher also works as a consultant, advising a variety of media clients on the legal risks, liabilities, and obligations involved in newsgathering and reporting.

Stracher's novel, The Laws of Return, follows the conflicted life and ultimate redemption of Colin Stone, a young Jewish man who grows up in the suburbs but is nonetheless haunted by the Holocaust and his Jewishness because of his family. His father is a scientist and his mother a Ph.D. student, and to more easily fit in with their ideas of American society, they have largely abandoned their Jewish traditions. Despite this, the weight of Jewish history still sits heavily in their household, and their messages to the young Colin are contradictory. He is, for example, forced to attend Hebrew school and prepare for his Bar Mitzvah. As Colin grows and matures, he falls in with other outsiders who have difficulty reconciling their lives with their religious identities. He attends college and law school, and is later persuaded to accept a demanding but high-paying job in a high-profile law firm. There, his religious identity is further battered as he finds he must conceal his Jewish heritage from an anti-Semitic boss. As he becomes more and more involved with the people around him, Colin soon realizes that he must come to terms with his identity and decide, once and for all, whether he will consider himself a Jew.

Throughout the novel, "there's no denying the author's enthusiasm for his material," observed Joanne Wilkinson, writing in Booklist. Stracher "has a sharp, irreverent eye for the hypocrisies and contradictions of his protagonist's life, which he describes in prose that snaps with staccato one-liners and resonates with insight," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor.

Stracher is also the author of two memoirs that draw extensively on his experiences as an attorney. The first is Double Billing: A Young Lawyer's Tale of Greed, Sex, Lies, and the Pursuit of a Swivel Chair. In the book, Stracher describes the jolting experience of joining a large law firm fresh out of Harvard Law School. He reports on the high-stress assignments; the long and grueling hours doing sometimes menial and unnecessary work that is nonetheless billable to the client; the palpable sense of hierarchy and caste that separates everyone from the new hires to the seldom-seen partners; and the ferocious competition for attention from above and the possibility of a coveted partnership position. Somewhere in the legal turmoil he witnesses, concepts of justice and fairness are buffeted and sometimes forgotten. Library Journal reviewer Jim G. Burns called the book "entertaining and smoothly written." Stracher's "characterizations are vivid and humane, his criticisms are convincing and his observations of workaday lawyering are as sharp as the corners of a legal brief," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

After many years in the legal arena, Stracher began to see quite clearly the effects that a high-powered job and a workaholic's intense schedule had on his family. He found himself not only spending at least four hours a day commuting from his Westport, Connecticut, home to his office in New York, he was also routinely clocking eighty-hour work weeks. His long hours away from home were resulting in his children losing touch with him and as likely to expect him to be away as not. Dinner with Dad: How I Found My Way Back to the Family Table describes how Stracher worked to reforge a connection with his wife and children using the kitchen and the dinner table as the vehicle for doing so. He formulated a plan whereby he pledged to be at home for dinner with his family for five nights a week; he also vowed that he will be the one to cook half of those meals. He describes his efforts to renovate his professional life so that he can spend irreplaceable time with his young children. He reports on his efforts to please their palates and how he discovered that the gourmet meals he whips up are not as pleasing as simple macaroni and cheese. His wife begins to feel crowded and complains of too much togetherness, even as Stracher himself begins to get frazzled and show signs of anger and stress. Eventually, however, he begins to realize that it is not the dinner or its ingredients that matters, but the togetherness he has forged by being there for his family. Stracher's story is a "sincere and witty account of his family and his struggle to get them to the table," commented a writer in Publishers Weekly.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Stracher, Cameron, Double Billing: A Young Lawyer's Tale of Greed, Sex, Lies, and the Pursuit of a Swivel Chair (memoir), William Morrow (New York, NY), 1998.

Stracher, Cameron, Dinner with Dad: How I Found My Way Back to the Family Table (memoir), Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 1996, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Laws of Return, p. 323; November 1, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of Double Billing, p. 456.

Entertainment Weekly, May 18, 2008, Warren Cohen, review of Dinner with Dad, p. 71.

Environmental Claims Journal, winter, 1999, Michael Sean Quinn, review of Double Billing, p. 195.

Legal Times, February 1, 1999, Erwin Somers, "It's Hell, but the Money's Good," p. 54.

Library Journal, November 1, 1996, David Sowd, review of The Laws of Return, p. 109; November 1, 1998, Jim G. Burns, review of Double Billing, p. 112.

Los Angeles Daily Journal, January 4, 1999, Jennifer Lynn Orff, "Taking a Tour of Duty in Large-Firm Hell," p. 7.

New York Law Journal, January 15, 1997, Elaine R. Friedman, review of The Laws of Return, p. 2.

Publishers Weekly, September 9, 1996, review of The Laws of Return, p. 65; September 21, 1998, review of Double Billing, p. 34; March 26, 2007, review of Dinner with Dad, p. 81.

Recorder, August 31, 2007, David Schaefer, "Kitchen Tales from a Corporate Lawyer," review of Dinner with Dad.

Student Lawyer, May, 2000, Joseph L. Barloon, review of Double Billing, p. 18; November 1, 2001, "A Visit with Cameron Stracher," p. 26.

USA Today, June 10, 2007, Bob Minzesheimer, "Dad Savors Taste of Family Life," review of Dinner with Dad.

ONLINE

New York Law School Web site,http://www.nyls.edu/ (April 22, 2008), author profile.

Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (January 15, 1999), Yuunah Kim, review of Double Billing.