Modern Lit: The Litigators, by John Grisham

The Litigators

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How to describe The Litigators? Think of the Broadway version of The Producers, with Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, and, perhaps, Jon Lovitz. Lane and Lovitz would be perfect in the roles of the aging Oscar Finley and the somewhat younger Wally Figg, a pair of Chicago ambulance chasers. Broderick would be perfect as David Zinc, a thirty-something lawyer who burns out of and ditches his position at a high-powered firm, and following drinking spree, finds himself employed by Finley and Figg. It’s another -world, where there are no ethics, few clients, little income, but plenty of sleaze. When Wally latches on to a get-rich-quick lawsuit against a major pharmaceutical company, all three attorneys are in over their heads – way over.

Veteran writer John Grisham reveals his funny side in this book, which approaches the farcical. The action takes place on the seamy streets and in the high powered courtrooms of mass tort litigation, i.e., where thousands of claimants sue major corporations, and the biggest winners are their lawyers. Think of all those TV commercials, in which an earnest attorney assures viewers that “it’s not about the money, it’s about accountability.” This book is populated by dozens of colorful characters: Finley and Figg’s street smart office assistant, the obligatory bimbos, the punk who tries to torch their office and then sues them, and the gorgeous shark of a corporate litigator who never loses a case. But there are also characters such as the Burmese immigrants whose child nearly dies from lead poisoning. Best of all, there’s a young lawyer who finally finds his niche.

The Litigators is a sharp, smart, amusing novel. It’s slow to take off, but once it does, it provides its readers with quite a ride. Once, again, Grisham comes through.

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