John Grisham’s 25th legal thriller centers on three law students, Todd, Mark and Lola, who are about to enter their final semester. Unfortunately, their law school, Foggy Bottom, is a bottom tier school charging top tier prices, and once they graduate into a saturated market their degrees may be nearly worthless while their debt will be astronomical. When a shared personal tragedy causes them to rethink their life choices, they abandon their plan to graduate for one of assumed identities and ‘unauthorized legal practice’ in criminal and personal injury law. The benefits to the new plan are twofold: no requirement to pass the bar (for which their school has inadequately prepared them) and no student loans to pay back.
This was a fun, quick read, even if the lawyer in me was appalled at the risks they were running in practicing without insurance. I also liked that Grisham pulled the background events from several real life news stories: the for-profit law school scams (inspired by the Atlantic article on the same) and the Wells Fargo scandal about shady account practices. I don’t think this read was on par with some of his other legal thrillers (leaving aside the classic A Time to Kill, I’m a big fan of the Firm and The Pelican Brief) but it makes a nice beach read.
Sadly, for me there is no beach this year- especially sad as part of the novel takes place in tropical Senegal and its relaxed beach town, St Louis. As it will likely be close to home staycations for the foreseeable future, I’ll just have to travel to the beach in my dreams, imagination stoked with gorgeous photos of beach towns near and far.