I realized lately that all I really know about law and courtrooms and lawyering is what I’ve seen, heard, and read about through criminal trials (both real and imagined). True crime and crime fiction is generally my scene, but when given a chance to expand my knowledge, I’m game.
Big Law is about a different side of the justice world. One where lawyers from big name firms make boatloads of money working all the time on cases representing big syndicates and companies who are probably in the wrong and have done horrible things, like spill oil all over the habitat of a bunch of poor birds or force people to work in an unhealthy environment that led to early lung cancer related deaths.
Somehow, those corporations seem to skive off without much damage and it’s always Big Law lawyers who are seen skulking away.
Welcome to the world of totally unfair bullsh!t. Oh, wait, I think you’ll recognize it since we are all currently living there for the next four years.
Anyway, back to the story. Big Law follows an up-and-coming newly minted partner, Carney Blake, who is pretty fresh from law school and still rosy-eyed and a bit idealistic about the whole law game.
When he’s given a case fighting against the corporation, for the plaintiff, the people who have been wronged, it seems a bit fishy, but he figures his company is just turning over a new leaf.
The story is told from a point in the future, so the reader gets bits of Carney’s more hardened, mature narration throughout and we can’t help but wonder, where is he telling this story from? The top of his own executive office in a crisp Armani suit? Or a jail cell in a nice orange D.O.C. jumpsuit?
Because things don’t seem to be going so well for Carney. Not in his personal life, where his father is an alcoholic mess and his brother is a drug addict, and not at his job, where every decision he makes for this case seems to send it spiraling out of control—and right into the hands of the firm’s biggest enemy.
This is an extremely fast-paced novel that spins out the world of corporate law in a way that is not only intelligible, but exciting and effortless. It drew me in and I didn’t feel like it stopping to explain every step of the process to me—instead the book treated me like an equal while still giving me all the information I needed. The mark of an experienced and great writer.
I think it definitely helps that this book is written by someone very much in the know: Ron Liebman is a former top litigator himself.
Interestingly, this book has some very clear lines demarcating good and bad, with only one surprise character (who I had a sneaking suspicion about anyway). People who the narrator thinks are bad (and are therefore cast in a bad light throughout) invariably turn out bad, through and through.
No real grey area in law, I guess.
Though the book definitely wraps up with a nicely tight bow, a bit neat for my taste, the story is definitely satisfying and gave me a buzz to read. It puts you right in the action of making the decisions with Carney and floods your brain with just a small bit of the constant wave information that lawyers’ brains must deal with.
Can’t say I’m envious of that life, but it’s nice to take a peek inside for one heck of a wild ride.
Get your copy of Big Law
Find out more about the author, Ron Liebman
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Find out more about the publisher, Blue Rider Press (Penguin Random House)
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Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.