The Street Lawyer

by John Grisham

Hardcover, 1998



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.… (more)

Library's rating


(1459 ratings; 3.5)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ozzieslim
John Grisham is one of my go-to guilty pleasures. When I want a fast read with a reasonably good story that I can read quickly, I often choose a Grisham. Like all his books, this one stands the test of what a ripping yarn should be like.

This book starts out with a bang. A group of corporate, well
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off attorneys are held hostage at gun point by a homeless man and quizzed on their generosity. The homeless man is quickly taken out by a sniper but the issues raised launch the rest of the story. I had to admit to wanting to know more about the man but it is really only touched on in the rest of the story.

The main character becomes deeply disillusioned with corporate law. Many of his colleagues try to convince him to take time out and do some public interest work and then come back and continue to greedily line his pockets. Throughout the book, except for about three characters, no one can understand why someone would walk away from making a lot of money because they find it soul destroying. This was one thing in the book I found eminently understandable. I have walked in those shoes (miles) and the one good thing to come out of re-reading this is that it made me think about what I did before to make my own life more meaningful.

At any rate, the story revolves around the homeless: their invisibility, their resilience, their vulnerability and their facelessness. There are a few red herrings that I wish Grisham would have followed to a more logical conclusion and explained a little bit better. The reality is, life is often inexplicable so maybe it's better to just embrace what's written and enjoy the rest of the story without diving too deep - after all, Grisham books are more about entertainment than a deep examination of life.

This is a decent book for a two day read. It's fun, enjoyable and easy on the brain and eyes. It stimulates a little bit of thought without driving you crazy. It's summer. Grab this one and park yourself with a beverage in a comfy chair and read. Preferably while on a great vacation somewhere.

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LibraryThing member csayban
Have you ever had déjà vu? Well I did as I read John Grisham's novel The Street Lawyer. The book was among the shelves of books that I have not yet read so I pulled it down and started reading it. The story seemed vaguely familiar, but I didn't remember any details or the ending so I figured I
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must have read a similar book at some point. Similar, as in exactly the same. It wasn't until I was about twenty pages from the end that I realized that I had, indeed, read the book before and now remember it all clearly. I guess the one consolation is that it is a very good book and I did enjoy reading it the second time. It is a great book - an engrossing story of a big-time lawyer who's near-death experience forces him to come to grips with his sudden choice to pursue helping people rather than the pursuit of money. This choice puts him in direct confrontation with his old firm, but even as his marriage and career crumble, his spirits are lifted. A great read that is light on legalese and heavy on the pursuit of right-and-wrong over money. Check it out if you get the chance. It's not preachy - it's just good. (
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LibraryThing member Anagarika-Sean
Another good one by Grisham. I've enjoyed all of his books so far.
LibraryThing member gilroy
Even lawyers can develop consciences. This novel is written from the point of view of a lawyer who is confronted with the evils of the world and decides to do something to change it. While it didn't fit all of the wonderful writings that Grisham has put out in the past, it does follow a good
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pattern, an enjoyable story. While certain plot points are predictable (a divorce, which seems to always show up somehow in a Grisham novel) it remained the journey that Grisham placed before the reader that I enjoyed.
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LibraryThing member Othniel
My Favorite Grisham.

John Grisham takes the lawyer who is hungry to remember his conscience on a ride worth experiencing in Street Lawyer. Although the author consistently denies writing his legal thrillers with a social motive in mind, me thinks he doth protest a bit too much. You cannot read this
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book and remain comfortably barricaded on the upper floors of some skyscraper, awaiting the next billable hour report. Grisham's characters clearly show that The Law Hurts, and does so deliberately blind to the consequences of actions taken by those who are "just doing their jobs." As the novel unfolds, the reader cannot help but question whether professionals set apart for special recognition and privilege in our society ought ever be able to say, "I was just doing my job." The people for whom the law exists are out there on the street, waiting for you to remember why you went to law school in the first place. The pace and action are more plausible than most outside the bar will think - and hopefully Grisham's treatment of homelessness and social justice will impel more than a few within the bar to do more than think. The book is a must read for the lawyer who still can recall his or her calling, and an excellent adventure for everyone else.
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LibraryThing member peeweeke
Michael Brock is billing the hours, making the money, rushing relentlessly to the top of Drake & Sweeney, a giant D.C. law firm. One step away from partnership, Michael has it all. Then, in an instant, it all comes undone.

A homeless man takes nine lawyers hostage in the firm's plush offices. When
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it is all over, the man's blood is splattered on Michael's face--and suddenly Michael is willing to do the unthinkable. Rediscovering a conscience he lost long ago, Michael is leaving the big time for the streets where his attacker once lived--and where society's powerless need an advocate for justice.

But there's one break Michael can't make: from a secret that has floated up from the depths of Drake & Sweeney, from a confidential file that is now in Michael's hands, and from a conspiracy that has already taken lives. Now Michael's former partners are about to become his bitter enemies. Because to them, Michael Brock is the most dangerous man on the streets....
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LibraryThing member MsBeautiful
Legal mystery/novel, interesting premise of a lawyer growing a conscious
LibraryThing member foovay
John Grisham turns his fine story telling skills to highlighting the plight of the homeless in stark contrast to the lifestyles of the affluent lawyers in this book. One lawyer, piqued by curiousity about the homeless man who held him at gunpoint, stumbles onto a problem in his own firm and becomes
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a crusader.
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LibraryThing member wixwife
Great book, couldn't put it down. Read it in August 2008.
LibraryThing member Talbin
Meh. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Mediocre writing, mediocre plot.
LibraryThing member mcollier
I didn't find this book at all thrilling. It was more like a Law and Order episode.
I did NOT like Megan or Michael. (Or them together, for that matter!) I think both are a little shallow. Michael has this big and bad attitude that is slightly annoying. Megan was just too goody goody for
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me. However, I did like Ruby, Mordecai, and Mister (DeVon Hardy). Ruby "cracked" me up. (Ruby is a crack addict.)
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LibraryThing member Livana
Another good John Grisham book. I liked it more then "The King of Torts".

The main character is very likable as an ex big-shot, big lawyer firm who quits his job after being held hostage by a homeless man. He sudenly "sees the light". He decides to become a "street lawyer" and helps the least
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LibraryThing member ague
10/10. I could not put it down. I lost sleep over this book. Grisham has perfected his writing style in this one. I'd like to discuss of the politics more.
LibraryThing member FieryNight
Slow to get going, but intriguing so far. Losing my interest actually. It's August 26th today, and it's sitting in my mother's car, neglected for more interesting books.
LibraryThing member bribre01
A decent book, but not as good as other Grisham books that I have read. Too preachy and predictable, and the ending felt rushed.
LibraryThing member traciragas
I haven’t read a Grisham book for a long time, so I wasn’t sure what to expect and if I would still enjoy the genre. I didn’t have to worry too much, since I found a good storyline with an engaging character whose life changes drastically after being taken hostage in his law firm’s
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conference room by a homeless man. Michael's next few moves were unexpected, uncharacteristic, and surprised everyone in his life. I was impressed and cheering for this new cause and his new goal. Enjoyable read.
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LibraryThing member creighley
Not your usual Grisham fair...slow to develop and never really gets going....mediocre ...As the story of Michael Brock, a fast-moving lawyer within a premier law firm in Washington, D.C., is forced to look more closely at the condition of the poor and homeless in the city.
LibraryThing member nEtVolution
Very predictable and not very exciting. Grisham books generally keep you interested with pent up excitement, but in this case it just seemed to passivle progress from one state to another with the odd spark in an attempt to liven things up
LibraryThing member melorem
Michael is a lawyer who is young and about to make partner any time now. In the safety of his law offices he is taken hostage by a homeless man who asks about evictions from a recent apartment. His interaction with this man changes the course of his life and his career. He can no longer focus on
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his expensive dinners and his lavish office when he knows that there are people out there starving and dying in the streets. What will he do with his law degree now? I liked how Grisham developed Michael. He allows us to see how this young man thinks as he makes big decisions that affect himself and the ones he loves.
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LibraryThing member Djupstrom
Yet again the same plot by Grisham. Ho-hum.
LibraryThing member sunnydrk
I am not sure how I missed this Grisham book. Excellent. Mr. Grishman is a storyteller who somehow always weaves a life lesson into his books.
LibraryThing member Dadbrazelton
One of his best works. I enjoyed it very much.
LibraryThing member JaimiTaylor
Interesting read, when you are a lawyer yourself.
LibraryThing member sail7
I read this during December, when homelessness becomes more visible. The book is very fast-paced (whole story takes place in about a month) and covers the social justice awakening of a corporate lawyer, who quits a promising career in a big firm to work as a lawyer for the homeless. Of course a big
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court case is involved. There is at least one more novel possible for these characters, the book ended with me wanting to learn how the next phase of the protagonist's life would go.
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LibraryThing member elmoelle
I know that John Grisham's legal thrillers shouldn't be approached expecting literary fireworks, but nonetheless, I was very disappointed in this book. The street lawyer presents a dichotomy in the legal profession between big firm lawyers who bill at $300 an hour, interact with only corporations
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and lust after money and poverty lawyers who don't care about money and are selfless advocates for the poor. This leaves out the large majority of small to medium firm attorneys who help people with mundane tasks like divorcing, writing a will, adjusting child support or getting reparations for an injury. This type of lawyer wants to help people, but also has to make some money to support themselves and their families. I felt like the two categories Grisham sets up in this book felt false. Also false, I felt, was the main character's continual dwelling on his whiteness when interacting with the poor and homeless. He was always referencing his fear being the only white face or his feeling of being out of place. I understand that Grisham was trying to reflect the thoughts of someone who had lived a relatively cushy existence suddenly being thrust into a world different from his own. However, I found it unbelievable that someone who has gone all the way through law school and lives in the very mixed city of Washington D.C. would have never before reflected on issues of race.
Usually the one thing that you can depend on in a Grisham book is an interesting plot that speeds along. Even that was lacking in this book. A lot of the threads never seem to come together and the climax that resolves the conflict between the main character's two legal worlds fizzles. If someone is looking for a Grisham book that reflects a more realistic portrayal of the law and still offers a zippy plot, I would recommend The Appeal.
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Doubleday (1998), Edition: 1st Printing, 348 pages

Original publication date





0-385-49099-2 / 9780385490993


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