College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Liberal Arts Matters

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The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presents

Recommended Readings

Litigators The Litigators

by John Grisham, Doubleday 2011

Reviewed by Larry Riggs

This is another in the long series of what I think of as Grisham's sociology-of-the-law novels. This one, though, is more comprehensive than any of the previous ones. David Zinc, a still-young graduate of Harvard Law working in one of Chicago's most prestigious law firms, melts down in the firm's elevator one morning and spends the day drinking in a seedy local bar. Thus begins an odyssey that leads Zinc, and us, through the labyrinthine world of the Law. From the top-drawer corporate and defense firm, where he has put in 5 years of 80-hour weeks as an associate, Zinc moves-drunkenly-to the store-front offices of a team of marginally competent ambulance chasers.

Zinc's involvement with what his new employers try lamely to pass off as a "boutique firm" leads him, and us, into contact with fabulously wealthy, and still rapaciously greedy, mass tort specialists; equally affluent and cynical tort defense practitioners; ruthless "Big Pharma" executives; a pompous, egomaniacal judge; and a horribly exploited Burmese immigrant family with a lead-poisoned child.

Grisham tells this story smoothly, and his denunciation of the pervasive greed and the paucity of truth or justice in the legal system never becomes a screed. The characters have some plausibility, and their motives are always recognizably human. I have found some of Grisham's novels too long, and they have not always held my interest. This one is engaging and readable throughout. It's a casual read with just enough serious social commentary.

- Larry Riggs is Professor of French at Butler University.