The Street Lawyer

By: John Grisham

Rating: 68%

Brief Summary: A lawyer suffers from a guilty conscience and takes less money to represent the homeless.

The Street Lawyer was a bad idea. Even people who like these type of preachy novels would question Grisham's choice for writing this story. Yes, homeless life is a tragic situation, there is no doubt about that, and given the right situation it might be an interesting story. This novel, however, is not one of them.

The book begins with a homeless man walking into a firm, holding all the lawyers hostages. Well, by chapter two, he is dead and everything is back to normal. Except for one lawyer, Michael Brock. He seems to suffer a guilty conscience after the event that he witnesses first hand.

A high profile person, is he, who keeps the money rolling in. However, because of this situation, he suddenly beings to think about all the homeless people and their sad plight. After meeting a man who takes minimum wage, at least for a lawyer, to represent the street people (hence a "Street Lawyer"), Michael decides this is the life for him. All the while he begins to notice dirty looks from everyone - including his own wife, for giving up his material riches and glory. Well, as it turns out, Brock's prior firm was up to no good. He finds evidence of a particular crime and holds it against them. They try to ruin his reputation where it all goes down to a court case at the end of the book. The ending is very flat, mind you, so don't expect too much.

This book does begin strong, like most of Grisham's novels, but it suffers from details that force the story to, at times, become rather sluggish.

It also suffers by coming off to "preachy". While we recognize that the homeless life is not fair, there is just a way that Grisham presents it that seems insincere.

The main characters are anything but memorable. Even the first person dialogue that worked so well in The Rainmaker failed here. In fact, the story would at times go back and forth between whose perspective we were actually reading through.

Basically, you will like the The Street Lawyer if you can appreciate the main theme of "helping out the homeless wherever you can", if you are a social worker and dedicate much of your life to this as Michael Brock did. While I appreciate the concept, it did not translate into a well told story. At the very least - it was easy reading like the rest of Grisham's books; so I was able to read through the drudgery faster.

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