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The Firm () Top 100 Books of the Millenium

    Why are so many lawyers dabbling in fiction? The question is a timely one in light of the current
    rash of legal suspense novels. In the last nine months my agent alone has received 117 unsolicited
    manuscripts from lawyers. He liked one of them.

    There are several reasons, I think. First, every lawyer has a good story. We lawyers get involved
    with people who have messed up their lives, and their mistakes make fascinating stories. Street
    lawyers see the underbelly of society. Corporate lawyers see high-stakes shenanigans. And since law
    school and bar exams require some measure of talent with the written word, lawyers think they can
    add a twist here and a subplot there and produce a real thriller. Second, most lawyers would rather
    be doing something else. The profession is overcrowded and the competition is fierce. Most of the
    work is terribly boring. There is tremendous dissatisfaction within the profession, and almost every
    lawyer I know is looking for a way out. Third, lawyers dream of big, quick money. A gruesome car
    wreck, an oil spill, a fat fee for a leveraged buyout, a large retainer from a white-collar defendant.
    It just goes with the turf. A nice advance against royalties, some foreign rights, maybe a movie
    deal, and suddenly there's cash galore.
           -John Grisham (The Rise of the Legal Thriller, New York Times Book Review)

There are so many reasons to hate John Grisham that one hardly knows where to begin.  Let's see:  he's a plaintiff's attorney, a politician, a Democrat, a relative of Bill Clinton, a sanctimonious ass, and so on.  But worst of all, he's a stunningly mediocre novelist who also happens to have sold more books in the 1990's than any other author--I think the estimate is 60 million books.  Most of that stuff he can be forgiven, but think of all the hours that were wasted reading those 60 million books.

The Firm is fairly a typical: a young man who is so stupid as to not realize he's just joined a Mafia-front law firm, is still smart enough to outwit the Mob and the Feds.  The only interesting issue that I can think of here is that we're supposed to overlook things like his greed, infidelity and general callowness because he's the little guy going up against the big guys.  This seems to capture Grisham's essential view of life: little guy good, big guy bad.

Sadly, it is also pretty much the basis for modern legal practice.  Lawyers find someone to say that some deep pocketed entity did some kind of damage to their client and then hope that either a jury will resent the big guy enough or the big guy will want the suit over with enough to hand the client a big cash settlement, which, by the way, the lawyer gets one third of, plus expenses. For forty years now these attorneys have had a compliant Press and collusive Lawmakers (since most of them are lawyers too) to aid them in demonizing the big guys and so the system has pretty much worked to their advantage, with companies paying off for almost wholly imagined harms from stuff like breast implants and Agent Orange (see Orrin's review of A Civil Action (1995)(Jonathan Harr) (Grade: C+)).  Of course, the unspoken consequence of these suits is that effective products get removed from the market or have their prices driven up, but what the heck, it makes for a nice story when John Q. Public gets a $50 million award from those nasty pharmaceutical companies, doesn't it?

Try this for me; the next time you're reading a John Grisham (or one of his many imitators) or watching one of the movie versions, root against the hero.  Two things make this particularly rewarding--if you really invest yourself in rooting for the bad guys, you can create some artificial suspense, the same way you can convince yourself that the Red Sox have a chance if you're a Boston fan.  Also, almost without exception, the bad guys are more interesting and likable anyway.  Just consider the movie version of this book--asked to choose between Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman for the fourth man in your golf foursome, who would actually pick Cruise?


Grade: (D)


Book-related and General Links:
    -John Grisham (Random House)
    -ESSAY:  CRIME/MYSTERY; The Rise of the Legal Thriller: Why Lawyers Are Throwing the Books at Us (John Grisham, NY Times Book Review)
    -INTERVIEW: (Ellen Kanner, Book Page)
    -INTERVIEW with John Grisham (Jesse Kornbluth, The Book Report)
    -INTERVIEW: (PHIL MCCARTY, Cavalier Daily)
    -PROFILE: Grisham reflects on death penalty,  faith's influence on novel writing (Mark Wingfield, Baptist Standard)
    -PROFILE: Grisham's Gospel: This time out, the best-selling king of legal thrillers finds adventure and salvation in Brazil. (Malcolm Jones, Newsweek)
    -MWP: John Grisham (1955-)(Mississippi Writers Page)
    -Mississippi State University: John Grisham
    -John Grisham (The Mississippi Writers and Musicians Project of Starkville High)
    -Howard Barich's Page about John Grisham
    -John Grisham (
    -John Grisham Book Reviews (Fan site)
    -John Grisham (Book Browse)'s special John Grisham feature
    -ESSAY: Romantic Racialism: A Comparison (William Wesley)
    -ESSAY: Using Change to Beat "The Grisham Factor"  by Herbert E. Cihak and Judith Morgan    (Volume 12 Number 4, June 1998, Marketing Library Services)
    -ESSAY: John Grisham's Rudy Baylor and Some Reflections on Legal Education ( Professor James R. Elkins College of Law, West Virginia University)
    -ESSAY: Grisham's Laws: Bad legal fiction drives out the good.  (Steve Chippendale, Hudson Institute)
    -ESSAY: When jet sets into a Firm formula (Andrew Billen , Friday October 29, 1993, Books Unlimited)
    -ESSAY: The Death of an Honorable Profession  (Carl T. Bogus, Indiana Law Journal)
    -ESSAY: FRED RODELL'S CASE AGAINST THE LAW (KEN VINSON, Florida State University Law Review)
    -ARTICLE: CNN - Grisham ranks as top-selling author of decade - December 31, 1999
    -ARTICLE: THE MEDIA BUSINESS: Publishing; Forget Those Legal Briefs: Novels by Lawyers Pay Off (Esther B. Fein, NY Times)
    -ARTICLE: BOOK NOTES; Nobody Can Keep Pace With John Grisham (MARY B. W. TABOR, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Firm (Law4U)
    -REVIEW: of The Firm, by John Grisham (Brian Bogart)
    -REVIEW: of The Firm (Chelsea, SmartGirl)
    -REVIEW: of THE STREET LAWYER By John Grisham (1998)(Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of THE RUNAWAY JURY By John Grisham (1996)(Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of THE RAINMAKER By John Grisham (1995)(Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Chamber By John Grisham (1994)(Walter Goodman, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of THE PELICAN BRIEF By John Grisham (1992)(Frank J. Prial, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Pelican Brief By John Grisham  (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)

    -INFO: The Firm (1993) (Imdb)
    -Reviews (Epinion)


Writing from the perspective of the "hunger of lust for power, money, prestige, and status-quo'", Grisham's projectory is really quite close to being accurate when it comes to the ambition of the white race. In most situations, factual or fiction, the blatant and flagrant behaviors rarely ever over shadow the out come of the events or acts.

Grisham's display of the nievate' of Mitch McDeere's character merely exposes the shallow thunder that seems to lie beneath the character surface of most pompous human beings whose life's purpose is to rule the world or at least to controll it. I should add the old cliche' we're all to familiar with, "MONEY TALKS AND BULL*#@*" WALKS!" Which is as true today as it was the day it was quoted.

In my opinion, the book speaks to the truths about most people. Yet, the movie plays down many of the major issues Grisham addresses, such as the racism, sexism, political sabatourge, the ideology of the "White Shadow-Big Brother is Watching You" syndrom, classism and segregation; while the movie presents McDeere as the skiddish poor white boy who has worked his way up the ranks of entitlement through his smarts, an adventurer who does what he does because it is the only way out, he doesn't forget the money; the book speaks to the natural nature of his characture's curiosity for the acid burn effect. You know and I know that even in the midst of the danger, most men would take on the challenge of trying to position themselves as the hero, but never without a price.

That is why when the rare inccidents of heroism and unconditional kindnesses occur, it makes for world news. Though the media doesn't focus on the subject matter for very long the deed is done. For example, the most recent lifesaving feat that took place in the subway in The Big Apple when a black man saved the life of a white bystander who had a seizure and fell on the railroad tracks infront of the speeding oncoming train. The man left his own children standing, threw himself over the man who was flaundering around on the tracks, held him down, until the train passed over the both of them and saved both their lives.

How many authors will write about him? (responses if any pls send to

The event was true but rare you must agree. He deserves an B Grade at least, after all the book became a best seller and the movie was a hit as well. DON'T HATE!

- P. Cason

- Apr-14-2007, 16:24


i really think Grisham is great and the plot of the firm tells me how intelligent he is.honestly i couldlnt even drop the book till i had finished reading.GOOD WORK GRISHAM!!!!MORE GREASE TO YA ELBOWS.


- Feb-22-2006, 17:17


Congratulations, you completely discredited your own review by 1)listing reasons to hate the author and not the novel itself and 2)Two of the reasons being that he is a democrat or has family ties to one that happened to become president. Running on that alone I am going to skip the battering of most of the review; however, suffice it to say that if you were offered a BMW, a low interest house loan, and a sufficiently high paycheck and given the same explanation that the character was (i.e. an extremely high-standards selection process and a very small number of employees to split the profits as well as extremely wealthy clientele) Some how I doubt the first words through your mind would be "mafia-front". Hell, I would've been duped.

- C.T.

- Jul-01-2005, 17:09


Please don't make such things to Grisham..I live in the Phil. Asian country and I reads a lot of him..he wites books Iliked and he really is great..this web is to be seen all over the world..I think you people should try first to read one of his works more briefly bfore naming him SUCH THINGS.



- Jun-10-2005, 04:34


I like John's he's great i think..reads a lot about him..well his writings i mean..the brethren and the a time to was the most intensifying the pelican brief...he's a great lawyer i think..wants to be lawyer someday too..

please do not think of anything buot him I LOVE HIM DEARLY.


- darby marquez

- Jun-10-2005, 04:29

******************************************************* you have a lot against Grisham for who he is...dont diss his books...he's a great author!!!

- kayekaye337

- Feb-27-2005, 16:26


i certaily hope that this is sarcasm. I find John grisham a great author and this web site can be seen all over the world. I live in PORTUGAL, and even I'VE read his books. I agree with the person that asked you if you were joking, because if anyone said this about me, (luckily they haven't or the sales would drop a lot! =P), I'd be PRETTY MAD...

- twelve-year-old phenomenon

- Feb-09-2005, 14:19


i don't think you guys are doing much good with this website. maybe you should expose some of the new york times reviews, or the daily news. sorry if my english is not so good... =P Peace and love and keep rocking

- moony

- Feb-09-2005, 14:11


Are you joking? I'm sorry if an ill-educated idiot such as yourself fails to see the literary integrity in John Grisham's novels. It's your loss. Perhaps you are jealous of Grisham's success? It's amazing that he's so successful since you seem to think that he is totally incapable of writing a shred of interesting prose. Everyone else is blind to his inabilities? I don't think so. And in case you haven't come out of the rock you've been hiding under, the Sox won the pennant less than four months ago.

- Michelle

- Jan-20-2005, 23:55


What if there were more truth to Gresham's fiction than you give him credit for? Reality can be stranger than fiction. Might have taken a lot of courage to even approach the topic in fiction. You just never know.

- Babe

- Jun-14-2004, 21:16


:) really helped me....thanx..!

couldn't agree more ;)

- Sigal

- Aug-03-2003, 13:40


not enough infomation, be more speacific on the book. this site sucks. it doesn't help meh at all.

- the one

- Apr-28-2003, 21:04