Street Lawyer: A lawyer on the way up has an unsettling event with a homeless man
Successful anti-trust attorney on the fast track to a partnership and big money has a dangerous and unsettling encounter with a homeless man that changes his life.
The Street Lawyer, John Grisham
Genre: General Fiction
Published 1998, 384 pages
In general, I find Grisham’s books very readable and this one was too. Michael and his surgeon wife Claire’s marriage is in trouble; they both work too many hours. While dealing with that issue in his life, Michael and several other lawyers at his big Washington D.C. law firm are held hostage at gun point by a homeless man. That event precipitates huge changes in Michael’s life as it makes him reevaluate everything he’s held dear. Michael goes after his former law firm who are responsible for the deaths of numerous homeless people when one of its attorneys deliberately buries paperwork that subsequently results in the eviction of those people.
“But I was no longer the same person I’d been a few weeks earlier. Nor could I go back, even if I’d wanted to. My past had been about money and possessions and status, afflictions that now disturbed me.”
Soon, he quits the law firm and joins a tiny, low-paying firm led by Mordecai Green (a colorful character that I really enjoyed) that helps the homeless, people in shelters, people living on the street. The stories and sadness of people barely getting by and the lack of help extended them by the majority of people can be heartbreaking and might make you think twice about how you treat people that you see in these conditions (if you are even exposed to that). It reminds you what sheltered, and lucky, lives so many of us live. That could so easily be me, this book makes you think, when you see how quickly things can go wrong in a life.
Some readers considered this book preachy, but I did not take it that way. It’s part human misery, part greed and excess in life, and part courtroom drama.
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