All the Justice Money Can Buy is Snigdha Prakash’s book about a Mark Lanier trial in the Vioxx litigation against Merck. I stumbled across the book on Amazon and decided to give it a read.

Lanier is a high-profile trial lawyer from Texas who has a very successful record. The book contains a quote that Lanier is one of the top 2–3 trial lawyers in the country—at worse. It is hard to argue with that statement. I will not try.  

One of the things that Lanier is well known for is developing his own unique courtroom style that heavily incorporates PowerPoint presentations. Prakash details how Lanier backs up his groundbreaking use of PowerPoint in trial with a stellar support team, meticulous planning, detailed organization and tireless work. It’s not unusual for Lanier to wake up at 1:30 a.m. to prepare for the day’s trial testimony.

But Lanier has a lot of help. I can’t imagine how nice it would be to have my own in-house jury consultant, an aid de camp who is an outstanding attorney and a team of support attorneys and staff. It sounds a bit like a military general going to trial.   

Here is the book’s Amazon description:

Mark Lanier knew he was facing an opponent willing to break every rule in the book, and each part of his case had to go just right for him to win. He had done it twice before. Could he do it again?

All the Justice Money Can Buy is the true-life story of a courtroom showdown between the man many consider the best trial lawyer of his generation and one of the nation’s richest and most-respected corporations.

Journalist Snigdha Prakash is embedded with the plaintiffs’ team for the seven-week trial, and takes us into the trenches of the tough—and dirty—battle between corporate interests and the individual that plays out in the courts. From early mornings when Lanier works in his hotel suite, to the daily post-mortems after court, and late nights in the plaintiffs’ “war room,” Prakash shadows Lanier and his team.

With its bird’s-eye view of the strategic thinking and meticulous planning that undergird Lanier’s seemingly unrehearsed performances in court, and of the well-oiled machine of lawyers and assistants that backs his every move, All the Justice Money Can Buy is a fast-paced, often funny journey behind the front-lines of a high-stakes, 21st century legal trial. Along the way, Prakash renders a piercing portrait of the challenges that await those who would take on corporate interests.

Part corporate expose´ and part legal thriller, All the Justice Money Can Buy is a gripping—and topical—read for our scandal-plagued times.

The trial was a New Jersey state court Vioxx trial on behalf of two plaintiffs. Lanier represented one of the plaintiffs and took the lead in proving liability in the trial, which bifurcated Merck’s liability for failure to warn and causation. That portion of the trial lasted two months.

Despite Lanier’s masterful work at trial, the jury found against Lanier’s client on liability. Lanier did not participate in the second phase of the trial, which resulted in a $47.5 million verdict for the remaining plaintiff.   

 The book is not a play-by-play of the entire trial. Instead, it focuses on opening and closing statements and the testimony of several key witnesses. This aspect of the book should make it more readable for non-litigators. As a litigation attorney, I would have loved it if the book was twice as long and covered in detail the entire trial and the pre-trial procedure.

It takes an enormous amount of time and work to get a pharmaceutical case to trial. Millions of pages of documents must be reviewed and appropriate expert witnesses must be hired and educated on the facts of the case so they can give testimony on the issues in the case. I can pretty much guarantee that the vast majority of that work on the plaintiff side was done by lawyers other than Lanier.

Those nameless lawyers are the unsung heroes of the Vioxx litigation. Lanier and other trial lawyers could not try a good case without that leg work having been performed by others. Of course, that work would not be very interesting to read about. Prakash understandably focused on the entertaining part: the trial.

I enjoyed this book. The story was an interesting read with some big characters on both sides of the case. This book should have widespread appeal for plaintiffs and defense lawyers, judges and members of the public who are interested in trials or the alleges corruption of the pharmaceutical industry. 

Trial lawyers can identify with Lanier’s plight in the case: trying a great case, but losing anyway.