One year ago, author Alex Wellen returned to Temple University to discuss his book, Barman. The novel chronicles Wellen’s years as a student in the James E. Beasley School of Law in the mid 1990s, from his decision to go to law school to his passing the bar exam.
On Thursday, Sept. 23, Wellen returned to address his alma mater once more, this time with new stories to tell and wisdom to share.
“It’s been an exciting year since the book came out,” said Wellen. “I spoke at more than ten universities last year, and I still get letters from the students at those schools and from young people all over the country who’ve really connected with my story and its coming of age theme.”
What is most intriguing is how Wellen’s journey to the bar began. As a freshman at the Rutgers School of Engineering, Wellen came up with an idea for a double-sided ping-pong.
“The prototype was two paddles with the handles sawed off and two of my little brother’s building blocks for spacers,” Wellen told a room full of law students in Shusterman Hall Thursday. “I thought it was ingenious. The patent attorney I talked to said it was crap.”
So Wellen opted to go to law school and become a patent attorney.
“I’d get the patent for the paddle and retire on the royalties,” he quipped.
Almost a decade later, Wellen is non-practicing lawyer with a hit novel on his hands and a patent on the ping-pong paddle that started it all. The recently released paperback edition of Barman even includes pictures of the actual patent.
Praise for Wellen’s memoirs has come from all kinds of readers, including some who have had an impact on the author himself.
“I’m thrilled and delighted that he has accomplished so much,” said JoAnne Epps, the associate dean of the Beasley School of Law. “I am proud of the fact that he’s done what he’s wanted to do with his life.”
With the success that he’s enjoying now, and the possibility of a Barman movie and television show, Wellen remains humble to the profession he set out to acquire.
“The law can really be an empowering experience,” said Wellen. “I think everyone should go to law school, even if they’ve got an undergraduate degree that doesn’t seem to segue into a career in law. I went to engineering school, and look what happened!”
Barman is available now in hardcover and paperback wherever books are sold. To learn more about Wellen and Barman, visit https://www.alexwellen.com.
Marta Rusek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.