Yale Law Grad Credits 'Stolen' Law School Chair for Literary Success

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Looking at the chairs in the Yale Law School dining hall, Brandt Goldstein had to admit that the banged-up wood-and-leather chair left in the apartment he rented during his second year there was stolen property.

But it became an old friend as he realized, even before he earned his juris doctor degree, that he didn’t want to practice and, while l a student, began a writing career and started collecting rejection slips as he worked on his first short story and screen play and struggled to complete his first book.

“Fittingly, that book was, in large part, about Yale–the story of how my classmates took the U.S. government to court to free innocent refugees held at Guantanamo in the early 1990s,” writes Goldstein, of the law school’s Class of 1992, in the Yale Alumni Magazine.

“Part of my challenge was to recreate the atmosphere of the law school–and, sitting every day on the same chair I’d used back then surely must have helped me.”

Although he intended to return the chair to Yale at the end of his second year, and then, he told himself, when he graduated, it is still with him, two decades later, in his New York apartment, its torn seat patched with duct tape and cloth napkins from IKEA. In an effort to address his guilt, Goldstein says, he pledged an amount sufficient to purchase several chairs in a recent law school fund-raising campaign.

Meanwhile, perhaps thanks in part to the chair, he is a published author. His 2005 book, Storming the Court, which features his fellow Yale law students, is excerpted on Google.

Goldstein is now working on a novel and what the alumni magazine describes as a nonfiction legal thriller.

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