Book review: The Litigators by John Grisham

The Litigators
by John Grisham
Hodder & Stoughton, 2011

The Litigators is a book of contrasts. Young lawyer David Zinc has had enough of the corporate grindstone and literally runs away from his job at a prestigious Chicago law firm and by chance winds up at Finley & Figg, a two-bit (or “boutique” as its owners call it) ambulance-chasing outfit where advertising is done on bingo cards. David helps his new friends snag a client in a car wreck, whereupon they offer him a job even though he’s never seen the inside of a courtroom. David’s new life contains no money and a constant reminder of what he’s let himself in for when he sees how his new colleagues operate (lower than low). But his new employment is refreshing compared with the evils he’s left behind, and everything begins to go right for him in his personal life.

As well as many wickedly funny contrasts between corporate greed and simple survivalist greed, this tale is one of two law cases. Wally Figg, always looking for the megabucks, gets involved in a massive tort action against a drug company. David, on the other hand, meets a friend of his wife’s whose maid’s little boy is in a coma, possibly a result of poisoning from lead toys. The differences in approach of Wally and David are extreme, leading to perhaps rather predictable outcomes (in both cases, a bit of an anticlimax after great build-ups).

The Litigators is a very easy read, full of fascinating insider legal details, crafty strategies, and glimpses of the horrifyingly corrupt life at the top of America’s big businesses and their legal “minders” as well as all their surrounding sharks – exactly the sort of book one would expect from John Grisham. The contempt lawyers have for their clients as people, from the top to the bottom of the barrel, is shocking. (The behaviour of clients is often not much better once they see the dollar signs flashing.) Less effective throughout is the characterisation, David and his wife being particularly bland.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Read other reviews of The Litigators at: The Observer, The Washington Post, Bookreporter, and Mysteries and More from Saschatchewan (by Bill Selnes, a lawyer).