Reviewed by Kshitij K. Viswanath, Batch of 2025, Kirit P. Mehta School of Law Mumbai
John Ray Grisham Jr., popularly called John Grisham, is a lawyer by profession and a writer by passion. The fusion of the two incites a feeling of thrill when you read it with the intensity that the feeling lingers months after your first reading. The book in question is a blend of ambition, street thinking and hope, yet is confined to the restrictions of reality, that can be related among most of us as it captures the frustration of a professional in its essence. Hope supersedes all the monotony of life in general with everything falling in place in the end.
Through the reading, one can capture the essence of the legal profession in its entirety, with some lawyers making it big, while others struggle to make ends meet, haggling for business as though it is a cut throat business, with no ethics and plain materialism. The book also captures more general problems such as alcoholism, poverty, failed relationships and professional burnouts which are an everyday sight, not differentiating on the basis of profession or class. However, the startling resemblance to reality is the exploitation of the poor and their vulnerability; false promises and battles too big to fight are centric to this book.
The book also brings about a feeling of dedication and loyalty towards one’s career and the justice that one does in his practice. In the humdrum of evil and self-centres voices, one can hear that goodness and righteousness is still living and beating. The idea of good friendships, loyal dogs and an angry receptionist are all inclusive in this package offered by the author, lightening the contents of the book, making it a delight to read.
False alliances, personal enmity and lawsuits are the addition to the thrill that this book offers with people using means, both legal and illegal to achieve what they want to, eerily resembling the life on the streets.
The book also depicts the spirit of bringing change to one’s life and making a difference, one moment at a time. It also shows us the risk one takes in life and the fear in doing so, yet there are vast benefits if one overcomes fear for a minute
The concept of ethics binds the entire book together and makes you question whether the lawyers indulge in dirty business out of choice or by force, and the stories of the characters put that into perspective, with a picture into their past, their dreams and their expectations, all of which collapsed and a choice had to be made. The pragmatic stayed pragmatic and the optimistic stayed optimistic, believing in their opinions till the end, regardless which way it swayed.
The essence of ‘5 minutes of fame’ also is very well pictured here as when cornered, the channelled desperation baffled all those observing, giving a glimmer of hope once again.
Yet, the text is one of realism with no flowery bits in between, making it an absolute delight to read as it provides a change from the conventional legal fiction, which does not accurately depict the idea of the real world, rather just glorifies the profession.
Personally, ‘The Litigators’ is a book I would recommend to all those interested to look into the legal field and what lies beyond the well-dressed lawyers and the million-dollar lawsuits. The larger reality includes lawyers advertising divorce settlements and haggling over the commission that they would earn on clearing a dead man’s will, which is essential to understand. The fact that the writer is an attorney as well as a writer is very evident, almost as though it was him recalling his personal experiences, rather than it being a piece of fiction. In my opinion, ‘The Litigators’ is a piece that is a must read.