Ten Great Novels on Legal Issues

(Originally published in The Writer, September 2013)

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (1960)
None of us will ever be Atticus Finch, but we’re better for trying.

snow fallingSnow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson (1995)
Trial and prejudice, with brilliant courtroom dialogue.

The Firm, John Grisham (1991)
A newbie with a dog named Hearsay outwits his wily bosses.

Rumpole of the Bailey series, John Mortimer (1978-2009)
Taught me everything I know about the British legal system.

Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
The epitome of the legal thriller.

AnatomyAnatomy of a Murder, Robert Traver (1958)
A classic by a Michigan judge, basis of the fine and fiery movie.

Every Secret Thing, Laura Lippman (2003)
A castoff Barbie, a missing baby, and two young girls—a heart-breaking look at juvenile justice.

If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him, Sharyn McCrumb (1995)
Domestic violence is nothing new.

The Trial, Franz Kafka (1925)
Still gives me the chills.

indian lawyer


The Indian Lawyer, James Welch (1990)
A tale of anger and revenge, beautifully told.

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5 thoughts on “Ten Great Novels on Legal Issues

  1. What? No Perry Mason? (insert proper emoticon here). I’ve read several of these and will look for the rest. My husband loved Snow Falling on Cedars but I never got around to it.

  2. Excellent choices, Leslie. I’d be curious to know what you think of the courtroom tactics Parnell Hall dramatizes in Anonymous Client, written under the pen name J.P. Hailey. I have two of his Steve Winslow series from the 1980s & 90s, o-o-p now, but I believe Parnell was getting them reprinted. Hope you can find this one, which I got a real kick out of!

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