Kennerly nails why I enjoy Grisham’s novels:
Surprisingly, I liked it, for the same reason I thought Boston Legal was the best of the TV lawyer dramas: Grisham doesn’t try for pure realism and fail, instead he satirizes mass torts (and injury litigation as a whole) by taking real themes and then exaggerating them. There are various inaccuracies and far-fetched plot devices, but they can be forgiven because the book rings true as it lampoons the field…..
The life of the two-bit lawyer is then contrasted with the apparent prestige of big firm work, often just a façade for soul-sucking hours and work that is ethically permissible under the standards of the profession but largely immoral under the standards of basic human decency.
I laugh out loud every time a Grisham novel lampoons attorneys using traditional lawyer stereotypes. The most recent Grisham book I read (The Partner) had a paragraph about lawyers gossiping that really cracked me up.
But my favorite scenes from Grisham’s books are the ones playing up the pressure on plaintiff’s lawyers to find cases–which sometimes leads to ambulance chasing or, as in The Litigators, fighting off other lawyers at an accident scene. From The Rainmaker to The Litigators, Grisham captures to underlying dilemmas that plaintiff lawyers face–often in a hilarious light.
Yea, Grisham’s books may not be totally realistic–but thank God for that. Most cases are excruciatingly boring for all but the lawyers and parties involved in the case. When I want to be entertained I want an entertaining story–I don’t care if it’s true. But as Kennerly points out, Grisham’s portrayals of the profession ring true.
Here is something lawyers may want to think about. In general, there are two kinds of lawyer war stories: (1) funny ones; and (2) bad ones. If people aren’t laughing at your war stories, which kind do you think you tell?