Summary and book reviews of The Street Lawyer by John Grisham

The Street Lawyer

by John Grisham

The Street Lawyer
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  • First Published:
    Feb 1998, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 1999, 464 pages

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Book Summary

Michael was scrambling up the ladder at a giant D.C. law firm, but a violent encounter with a homeless man stopped him cold.  Who was this man? Michael did some digging and found a dirty secret.

Michael was in a hurry. He was scrambling up the ladder at Drake & Sweeney, a giant D.C. law 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.

The fast track derailed; the ladder collapsed. Michael bolted the firm and took a top-secret file with him. He landed in the streets, an advocate for the homeless, a street lawyer.

And a thief.

Excerpt
The Street Lawyer

The man with the rubber boots stepped into the elevator behind me, but I didn't see him at first. I smelled him though - the pungent odor of smoke and cheap wine and life on the street without soap. We were alone as we moved upward, and when I finally glanced over I saw the boots, black and dirty and much too large. A frayed and tattered trench coat fell to his knees. Under it, layers of foul clothing bunched around his midsection, so that he appeared stocky, almost fat. But it wasn't from being well fed; in the wintertime in D.C., the street people wear everything they own, or so it seems.

He was black and aging--his beard and hair were half-gray and hadn't been washed or cut in years. He looked straight ahead through thick sunglasses, thoroughly ignoring me, and making me wonder for a second why, exactly, I was inspecting him.

He didn't belong. It was not his building, not his elevator...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Chicago Sun-Times

"An entertaining read with an important theme."

Chicago Sun-Times

"An entertaining read with an important theme."

San Francisco Chronicle

The plot surges forward, pulling us along as we turn those pages a mile a minute.

San Francisco Chronicle

The plot surges forward, pulling us along as we turn those pages a mile a minute.

Entertainment Weekly

;Compelling...if there's any justice, The Street Lawyer will be his biggest hit yet.

School Library Journal

Michael's transformation from greedy attorney to a sympathetic social worker is gradual and credible. Other characters are not as well developed. As Grisham includes many statistics and other relevant information on the homeless, this is an good choice for sociology students.

Reader Reviews

Caroline

From Highs to Lows,
I was required to read this book, for my senior AP English class, and of the other books that I had read so far were very boring and mostly non-fiction. When my teacher announced we were reading a Grisham novel, I was excited. I've read a few ...   Read More

Whittney Williams

Fast Track to the Streets
John Grisham does an elaborate job at provoking responses from one's sense of humanity, and drawing on the compassion within a given society. He shows us how easy it can be to do the right thing and help the less fortunate. I loved this book, for ...   Read More

gary

although this was not one of john grishams best books...it was still very interesting. i believe that his book The Client starts out great but then dies out as with The Street Lawyer. I do, though, recommend this book for people of all ages to read...   Read More

Christina

i am in the tenth grade and i thought this book was very interesting. it kept my attention and was always drawing me back for more. i think the street lawyer was an excellent book.

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