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The Street Lawyer Mass Market Paperback – January 5, 1999

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Reprint edition (January 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440225701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440225706
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,293 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #947,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

John Grisham is back with his latest courtroom conundrum, The Street Lawyer. This time the lord of legal thrillers dives deep into the world of the homeless, particularly their barely audible legal voice in a world dominated by large, all-powerful law firms. Our hero, Michael Brock, is on the fast track to partnership at D.C.'s premier law firm, Sweeny & Drake. His dream of someday raking in a million-plus a year is finally within reach. Nothing can stop him, not even 90-hour workweeks and a failing marriage--until he meets DeVon Hardy, a.k.a. "Mister," a Vietnam vet with a grudge against his landlord--and a few lawyers to fry. Hardy, with no clear motive, takes Brock and eight of his colleagues hostage in a boardroom, demanding their tax returns and interrogating them with a conviction that would have put perpetrators of the Spanish Inquisition to shame. Hardy, a man of few words and a lot of ammunition, mumbles cryptically, "Who are the evictors?" as he points a .44 automatic within inches of Brock's face. The violent outcome of the hostage situation triggers an abrupt soul-searching for the young lawyer, and Hardy's mysterious question continues to haunt him. Brock learns that Hardy had been in and out of homeless shelters most of his life, but he had recently begun paying rent in a rundown building; that means he has legal recourse when a big money-making outfit such as Sweeny & Drake boots him with no warning. When Brock realizes that his profession caters to the morally challenged, he sets out on an aimless search through the dicier side of D.C., ending up at the 14th Street Legal Clinic. The clinic's director, a gargantuan man named Mordecai Green, woos Brock to the clinic with a $90,000 cut in pay and the chance to redeem his soul. Brock takes it--and some of the story's credibility along with it; it's hard to believe that a Yale graduate who sacrificed everything--including his marriage--to succeed in the legal profession would quickly jump at the opportunity for low-paying, charitable work. However, Brock's search for corruption in the swanky upper echelons of Sweeny & Drake (via the toughest streets of D.C.) is filled with colorful characters and realistic, gritty descriptions. In the The Street Lawyer, Grisham once again defends the voiceless and powerless. In the words of Mordecai Green, "That's justice, Michael. That's what street law is all about. Dignity." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

America's most popular author is arguably its most popular crusader as well, tilting his pen against myriad targets, including big law (The Firm, etc.), big tobacco (The Runaway Jury), big insurance (The Rainmaker) and now, in perhaps his sweetest, shortest novel, against anyone, big or little, who treats the homeless as less than human. The expected powerhouse opening involves the hostage-taking?by an armed, homeless man who calls himself Mister?of nine attorneys of a huge law firm headquartered in D.C. Among the nine is narrator Michael Brock, an antitrust lawyer who receives a faceful of blood when a police sniper blows away Mister's head. "I'm alive! I'm alive," Michael cries like Ebenezer Scrooge, but, like Scrooge, this greedy hotshot is ripe for a moral awakening. The next day, Michael visits the shabby offices of Mister's attorney, Mordecai Green, who explains that Mister and others had been illegally evicted from makeshift housing on orders from a real-estate development company represented by Michael's firm. Inspired by Green and shaken by his firm's complicity, Michael volunteers at a homeless shelter. When a family he meets there dies on the street, and turns out to have been among the evictees, Michael quits his job, goes to work for Green and, using as evidence a file he steals from the firm, aims to sue his former employer on behalf of the evictees. In turn, the firm places Michael in its crosshairs, pressuring him to give up the file through legal maneuvers, having him arrested and hints of darker means. The cat-and-mouse between Michael and the firm is vintage Grisham, intricately plotted, but the emphasis in this smoothly told, baldly manipulative tale is less on action and suspense, which are moderate, than on Michael's change of heart and moving exploration of the world of the homeless. Dickens would be well pleased, and so will Grisham's fans. 2.8 million first printing.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

The plot was a little too contrived.
Sure, people have life-changing experiences, but this guy would never exist in real life.
Kaitlin Kelly
This book kept me interested from page one to the very end.
Harold L. Laroff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By K. Johnson VINE VOICE on December 7, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Was this written in a mansion?
Another enjoyable quick read by Grisham. The scenario is predictable and the general themes are known to the reader by page 30. And with Grish that's OK. Michael Brock is a young lawyer living in Georgetown and working for the prestigious law firm of Drake & Sweeney: the ambitious climb up the corporate law firm ladder, a high income, a wife he never sees in an unhappy dysfunctional marriage and 80 hour work-weeks, are broken up by martini lunches billed to clients. Grisham again presents the "lawyerly atmosphere," with layman descriptions of legalese and strategies, in an interesting and intriguing way as the story unfolds. The descriptions of the District of Columbia are true-to-the-heart, and bring you to its Victorian townhouses, bad parts of town, popular night-spots, "lettered" streets, and DC's restaurants and cafes.
Even though he's a lawyer who lives in D.C., Brock goes through a personal, professional, and spritual metamorphosis after a traumatic incident--but all in 32 days? Now, Acknowledging a boring existence in life, through introspection, he has a series of conscious-raising revelations as the result of event.
He then ventures out to fight for the needy. Those who don't have a voice. Those who have multiple self-induced problems, make mistakes in life, and screw-up on a regular basis. Illegitimate children, dependence on drugs and the habitual inability to keep a job: these are the people who are the victims. And, these are victims who need justice. These people need a voice in society for theirs' is muted in the mahogany and oak halls of justice. And, Brock will be the man: risking his freedom, life, high income, career, and a certain future as a million-dollar-partner in his law firm that he leaves.
He chucks it.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on August 4, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
My first Grisham novel was The Testament, so I walked into this novel, expecting more of the same. Unfortunately that expectation was mis-placed.

The concept was good, and the topic was riveting. The problem, however, lay in the narrative. The character of Michael Brock was almost wishy-washy. I couldn't identify with him - in fact I related and liked far better the character of Mordecai Green, Director of the 14th Street Legal Clinic which Brock starts working for.

The novel is billed, essentially, as a thriller. However it didn't have the feel of a thriller. Sure, I was intrigued by the developments, however I wasn't feverishly turning the pages at 3am to finish it.

In a way, I'm disappointed. The topic is hot, and one deserving of much attention in this, the richest nation of the world. I often wonder how many millions are given to foreign nations, while thousands of its citizens sleep on our streets, including children? A disturbing thought.

I'm glad that Grisham brought it to our attention, but felt that he could have done so much more with the material. It's an enjoyable read, don't get me wrong, but not Grisham at his best.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By snapanther on July 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Many people say this book was not Grisham's best, but I do believe they missed his point of the story. This book actually moved me to the awareness of the homeless. Most of us sit in a comfortable chair reading and say, "Entertain me now!" I do highly doubt that an attorney would leave his prized job to do what he did, but it is possible. Some would say to stay put with the firm and use that income to save the homeless. In this story, Michael Brock decides to hit the pavement, dodge personal attacks on him and make a difference in D.C. This book moved me to be aware of the less fortunate in my own community, and I will do more to help others who need it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Barry Mitchell on May 13, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
John Grisham takes the lawyer who is hungry to remember his conscience on a ride worth experiencing in Street Lawyer. Although the author consistently denies writing his legal thrillers with a social motive in mind, me thinks he doth protest a bit too much. You cannot read this book and remain comfortably barricaded on the upper floors of some skyscraper, awaiting the next billable hour report. Grisham's characters clearly show that The Law Hurts, and does so deliberately blind to the consequences of actions taken by those who are "just doing their jobs." As the novel unfolds, the reader cannot help but question whether professional set apart for special recognition and privilege in our society ought ever be able to say, "I was just doing my job." The people for whom the law exists are out there on the street, waiting for you to remember why you went to law school in the first place. The pace and action are more plausible than most outside the bar will think - and hopefully Grisham's treatment of homelessness and social justice will impel more than a few within the bar to do more than think. The book is a must read for the lawyer who still can recall his or her calling, and an excellent adventure for everyone else.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By GLG100@Net-Link.Net on April 8, 1998
Format: Audio Cassette
Somewhere along the line, Mr. Grisham toppled off his storytelling ladder deciding that the social statement was a more compelling exercise than the entertainment of his readers. I suppose we should have been forewarned with his recent engagements with the tobacco and insurance industries, but our continued purchases in hopes of another 'Firm' or 'Client' seems to have stimulated him to continue in this (moralizing) direction. Surely, the pharmaceutical industry is next, followed by professional sports then Bill Gates and company. If you revel in moralizing lecture/statements on (name the subject), you'll want to read this and all subsequent Grisham books. Me, I prefer stories and entertainment. I'm sticking with P.D. James, Louise Erdrich, Larry Bond and Patrick OBrian. I want my money back.
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More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel. Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.That might have put an end to Grishams hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller. Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, and The Appeal) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man.

Photo credit Maki Galimberti

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