The Street Lawyer

The Street Lawyer

Large Print - 1998
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Michael was in a hurry. He was scrambling up the ladder at Drake & Sweeney, a giant D.C. firm with eight hundred lawyers. The money was good and getting better; a partnership was three years away. He was a rising star with no time to waste, no time to stop, no time to toss a few coins into the cups of panhandlers. No time for a conscience. But a violent encounter with a homeless man stopped him cold. Michael survived; his assailant did not. Who was this man? Michael did some digging, and learned that he was a mentally ill veteran who'd been in and out of shelters for many years. Then Michael dug a little deeper, and found a dirty secret, and the secret involved Drake & Sweeney
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 1998
ISBN: 9780385491006
038549100X
Branch Call Number: LP F Gri
Characteristics: 348 p

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m
maiki69
Nov 14, 2019

In the Author's Note, John Grisham states that prior to writing THE STREET LAWYER (Dell Publishing, $7.99) he hadn't given much thought to homelessness. Well, he is from Mississippi where they don't appear to give much thought to social issues (the state didn't officially ratify the 14th amendment until 2013). However, the confession seems inexcusable coming from a writer with a law background in a nation that propels the myth we are all equal under it, and points out in glaring fashion faults within the legal system.

STREET LAWYER opens inside the elevator of swanky Washington, D.C. law firm Drake & Sweeney. The novel's protagonist (Michael Brock) is sharing the lift with a homeless person and has the typical urbanite response to such street urchins: He doesn't really look at him, but he smells him. Homelessness, Grisham drives home in this scene, is a faceless nuisance best ignored.

Unbeknownst to Michael, the homeless man has an axe to grind with the firm. He follows Michael into the law offices where he draws a gun on him and eight of the firm's bulldog litigators, and a hostage situation ensues:

"Eight hard-nosed and fearless litigators who spent their hours chewing up people. The toughest was a scrappy little torpedo named Rafter, and as he yanked open the door saying 'What the hell?' the barrel swung from me to him, and the man with the rubber boots had exactly what he wanted."

Twenty-two pages later, the booted man is shot dead by a SWAT sniper. Michael, having been standing directly behind him at the time of impact, is covered in blood and pieces of bone and flesh. It's a harrowing experience for the young lawyer, and one that over the next few days evolves into an epiphany. He's not fulfilled in his marriage, the promise of materialism isn't feeling the void, and the question of why Mister (the name he gives the dead homeless guy) did what he did pervades his every waking hour. He needs answers, and he needs them fast.

Michael hits the pavement for answers. His search brings him to the 14th Street Legal Clinic, a bare knuckled law office that specializes in pro bono work for the disenfranchised. Their only requirement: You have to be homeless. Enter Mordecai Green.

Mordecai is chief counsel at the clinic. Not taken to titles, in the eyes of this law practice social workers have equal bearing to lawyers. Through Mordecai, Michael learns the reason behind Mister's hostage scenario. The federal government wants to buy a structure being used as a pay-to-stay homeless shelter. the landlord jumps at it and illegally convicts the tenants, Mister included.

Whether from intrigue or the yearning to practice law that makes a real difference in people's lives or just plain old-fashioned WASP guilt - probably all three - Michael jumps ship. He becomes the 14th Street Legal Clinic's newest partner.

As the facts of the eviction reveal themselves, things get interesting as the case involves Michael's former well-heeled law firm. After some twists, turns, and an attempted cover-up, justice is finally served in STREET LAWYER, but it sure takes a meandering, eye-opening course to arrive there.

Grisham, at his best when he's writing about the counselors he's fought in the trenches with - whether they be hawks or doves - lands a solid punch with STREET LAWYER. And for a guy who never gave much thought to homelessness, it marks a watershed.

t
tuprecious
Jun 06, 2019

The plot,the charactors, and especially the moral tone of the book are garbage. The title charactor isn't a hero, he's a disillusioned fool. He leaves his position of power and influence to work the streets where everyone he encounters seems full of great wisdom and courage as long as they are homeless or working for social services.

e
Eil_1
Jan 17, 2019

An engrossing theme of the homeless and helpless by Grisham. He is the ultimate story-teller of the thousands of people who are left in the trenches by the rich and powerful. Grisham gives a face to the poverty-stricken people who live in the streets. This is a sociological drama the subjects of which are grounded into loss and despair. We, in our blessed states, have no need to bother with the lost souls.

c
cluhowy
Jul 28, 2017

You just can't go wrong reading John Grisham. This book shines a light on corporate greed, social injustice and homelessness. It grabs your attention from the very beginning. Excellent read.

b
Bookworm1562
Mar 03, 2017

John Grisham accurately describes what is like working with the struggling and the homeless. Personal satisfaction rarely comes from improving a person's life or personal situation. It comes from knowing you showed a fellow human being the dignity and compassion they deserve.

j
johnholan
Jul 22, 2016

The Street Lawyer
Review by John Holan

During my first two weeks of my summer I read The Street Lawyer by John Grisham, The story follows Micheal Brock and lawyer who works at the law firm of Drake & Sweeny in Washington working close to a partnership which in Law means millions of dollars.

One day at Drake and Sweeny a Homeless man by the name of Mister takes the same elevator as Micheal, and once he gets the floor he pulls a gun out and the Lawyers and Litigators and Basically shames them for not giving enough to the homeless.

After this happens Micheal goes into a pre-midlife crisis and decides to leave his opportunity to have millions and go into street law at The Street Law Clinic with his fellow friend Mordecai then after transferring some files from his old firms he finds something very curious.

An unauthorized destruction of a homeless shelter by River Oaks and Drake & Sweeny Micheal and Mordecai go into beast mode and try to hunt down Micheal’s old Law firm and River Oaks. Having the case pretty much being brought into their hands it’s still a nasty job, while Micheal was trying to photocopy and unauthorized file, he got into and Accident and forgot the file in his car. Once Drake & Sweeny noticed that the file was missing they charged Micheal with fraud and theft and it doesn’t help that the Judge was a criminal lawyer who highly respect the privacy of another Lawyers file.

After Micheal was charged with fraud this made the case less accomplishable and they couldn’t succeed as much as they had hope. Drake and Sweeny, scrambling to make a case because they know that if Micheal succeeds, it’s not just their money that’s being ruined, it’s their reputation.

Micheal was charged with fraud and was put in prison for twenty-four hours until Mordecai was forced to bail him out. After a trip the other Law office of Drake and Sweeny in Chicago he comes back with an airtight case in the bag. However the Judge is still in discontent about the thievery of the file but after a month of trials, paper work, arguing with the secretary, Micheal and Mordecai seal their case and come to an agreement that Drake and Sweeny will deliver ten million dollars to the damage of the unauthorized destruction of the shelter almost completely going broke.

j
JILLYJELLY
Jun 10, 2016

Good read--not too many tedious courtroom details.

r
RicardoEdm
Jun 21, 2015

Grisham is too good a writer to put out a bad book but it's easy to forget that not every single book he writes can be a stelar. This one was good but I don't think one of his best

s
sinclair29
Jan 20, 2014

I really enjoyed this book. Does not have its usual fast pace, twist and turn, but it's a well-written story about homelessness, how society disregards it and how it could be helped by having a different attitude about it.

a
apollard18
Jun 24, 2012

Though Grisham's dialogue and description remain crisp, the plot and character development in this book is lacking. In his attempt to convey the plight of the homeless, Grisham pummels his characters into two-dimensional caricatures and leaves his suspense plot by the wayside.

http://cafereads.blogspot.com/2012/06/house-blend-street-lawyer.html

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m
maiki69
Nov 14, 2019

THE STREET LAWYER (Dell publishing, $7.99) opens inside the elevator of swanky Washington, D.C. law firm Drake & Sweeney. The novel's protagonist (Michael Brock) is sharing the lift with a homeless person and has the typical urbanite response to such street urchins: He doesn't really look at him, but he smells him. Homelessness, Grisham drives home in this scene, is a faceless nuisance best ignored.

Unbeknownst to Michael, the homeless man has an axe to grind with the firm. He follows Michael into the law offices where he draws a gun on him and eight of the firm's bulldog litigators, and a hostage situation ensues:

Twenty-two pages later, the gunman is shot dead by a SWAT sniper. Michael, having been standing directly behind him at the time of impact, is covered in blood and pieces of bone and flesh. It's a harrowing experience for the young lawyer, and one that over the next few days evolves into an epiphany that changes his life.

Michael hits the pavement for answers. His search brings him to the 14th Street Legal Clinic, a bare knuckled law office that specializes in pro bono work for the disenfranchised. Their only requirement: You have to be homeless. Enter Mordecai Green.

Mordecai is chief counsel at the clinic, and a bulldog in his advocacy for the homeless Michael discusses the case with him, and after a bit of investigating learns the shooter had a beef with the law firm Michael is employed by. Whether from intrigue or the yearning to practice law that makes a real difference in people's lives or just plain old-fashioned WASP guilt - probably all three - Michael jumps ship. He becomes the 14th Street Legal Clinic's newest partner.

As the facts of the case come out, Mordecai sees a pattern of lawlessness he can't let alone. Though his clinic be small , he and Michael file suit which pits them against the well-heeled counselors of his former employer. David is taking on Goliath.

Grisham's background in law provides a fascinating look at the process of the American justice system. At times the reader wants to look away - there's a naive wish, I think, by everybody that the system is just. And, often it is, depending on one's perspective. In the end, justice is served in STREET LAWYER, but it takes a meandering, eye-opening course in arriving there. Grisham, at his best when he's writing about the counselors he's fought in the trenches with - whether they be hawks or doves - lands a solid punch with STREET LAWYER.

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m
maiki69
Nov 14, 2019

The toughest was a scrappy little torpedo named Rafter, and as he yanked open the door saying 'What the hell?' the [gun] barrel swung from me to him, and the man with the rubber boots had exactly what he wanted."
-John Grisham, THE STREET LAWYER

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