A Lawyers Life: Six Decades in Celebration of Some of America's Most Remarkable Entrepreneurs, Artists and Adventurers
by Tony Curto
An attorney reflects on a life working with immensely talented clients, the result of his magnetic attraction to inventive
artists, in this memoir.
Curto was “born into the Golden Age of lawyerdom”—New York City in 1936—and enjoyed a career at least sparked by a measure of luck.
While attending the New York Law School, the dean, Daniel Gutman, asked the author if he was related
to a friend with the same name. Curto was not, but as a consequence of that brief exchange, he was then known to the dean, a relationship
that ultimately led to his first legal position at Buhler, King & Buhler. The firm represented a “roster of star clients,” among them
Jane Pauley and Garry Trudeau. That early professional experience turned out to be decisively influential,
and his career became driven by a profound attraction to creatively fertile types. That allurement is the thematic spine of this memoir:
“All these stories have a common thread, which was unseen to me as I was living through them. The
thread is the unique individual whose goals captured my imagination and compelled me to support them. It was these people who have defined
my legal life.” The author’s remembrance is structured around these wide-ranging encounters
and features anecdotes about an eclectic group, including author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, film star Linda Lovelace, football
player Freeman McNeil, and journalist Harrison Salisbury.
Curto writes with admirable lucidity—even potentially forbidding questions about legal technicalities are rendered fully accessible to
the layperson. While the author’s vivid stories focus on celebrities, it is not their fame per se that sets them apart for Curto—this
remembrance is not the expression of infatuation with stardom. In fact, the author poignantly limns an
homage to creativity in all its forms: “Simply stated, I was attracted to these special people whom I saw as ‘creators,’
fashioning their own worlds. I have always thought that artists and entrepreneurs, like God, create, while explorers and scientists
discover. The difference to me is profound.” Furthermore, some of the tales the author relates intersect with grand world history.
In one of the most memorable of his anecdotes, Curto “played a pivotal role in a high-risk,
international scheme that secretly conveyed the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to the West,” specifically two literary
classics, The First Circle and The Gulag Archipelago. Despite Curto’s obvious success and talent, this is an astonishingly unpretentious work,
free of any self-congratulation. The author’s abiding aim is to highlight the virtues and accomplishments of
others—his principal role is as a kind of witness to greatness. This is a breezy read that delivers more
entertainment than edification, and doesn’t challenge readers deeply. In addition, many of the luminaries discussed in the book will be
obscure to a younger readership. Almost no one born after, say, 1980, will be familiar with singer/songwriter Harry Chapin.
But since the memoir is about the author’s serendipitous encounters with innovative genius, that familiarity hardly matters; the
point isn’t to gawk at the glitterati, but rather to appreciate the nebulous wellsprings of creative
fecundity. Curto’s reminiscence is a delightful experience, easy though intriguing, a rare literary combination.
A captivating tour of a lawyer’s encounters with creative genius.
Release Date: 11/1/2022