The Street Lawyer by: John GrishamPage by: Kyle Ernst


Author Background
John Grisham was born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He was the second oldest of five siblings. John Grisham was actually John Grisham Junior because his father was also John Grisham (Senior) and was a construction worker and a cotton farmer. His mother, Wanda Skidmore Grisham, was a homemaker. When Grisham was four years old his family started moving around the South and was soon residing in Southaven (DeSoto County, Mississippi). After graduating high school he went on to attend three colleges before completing a degree. The trio of colleges were (from first to last) Northwest Mississippi Community College (Senatobia, Mississippi), Delta State University (Cleveland, Mississippi), and finally graduating from Mississippi State University in 1977 with a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting. Deciding he wanted more he enrolled at the University Of Mississippi School Of Law and graduated with a Juris Doctor Degree specializing in criminal law (1983). While in law school Grisham married Rennee Jones on May 8, 1981 and happily have two children together (Ty and Shea). Grisham set out to practice in the law for about a decade. During 1984 to 1990 he served in the House of Representatives in Mississippi. In 1984 Grisham began writing what would be the start of a new career, A Time To Kill, and had it published in 1989. The book went on to sell two million copies making Grisham one of three authors to do so on their first printing (the others being Tom Clancy and J.K. Rowling). After great success of his first book Grisham decided there was a better business for him, writing. He officially became a full-time writer in 1996 when he won his biggest and last verdict of $683,500.

Major Characters


Michael Brock-Main character, works at Drake & Sweeney law firm in Washington D.C. Becomes startled after a homeless wanting to make a point holds Michael and nine other lawyers hostage. When they are rescued by a sniper from S.W.A.T. team the brains and blood are spilled onto Michael. He becomes more concerned on why the man held them hostage and decides to go searching for reasons. He begins helping at homeless shelters and meets, the director of the 14th Street Legal Clinic, Mordecai Green. Swiftly Michael finds himself and changed man with new morals that didn’t involve climbing his way up the ladder for a partnership at Drake & Sweeney. Just a week after his ordeal Brock is routinely volunteering at local homeless shelters and caring for the people he used to walk over on the sidewalk oblivious to their beg for some pocket change. He not only drifts his motive from partnership but decides to dig up evidence about the homeless man who held him hostage and finds a lawsuit involving what would now be his former firm Drake & Sweeney, and new firm being the 14th Street Legal Clinic and his new acquaintance and mentor being Mordecai Green. While all this is taking place he is also divorced by his neurosurgeon wife having no arguments to stay together either.

DeVon “Mister” Hardy-Homeless man who takes Michael Brock and his fellow colleagues as hostage. He was also evicted from a warehouse building just a month from holding hostages at Drake & Sweeney.

Mordecai Green- Director and Lawyer at the 14th Street Legal Clinic for the homeless. Becomes Michael Brock’s friend and is his new colleague.

Claire Brock- The wife of Michael Brock and soon to be ex-wife who is an aspiring neurosurgeon.

Arthur Jacobs- Senior partner at Drake & Sweeney who’s never thought a bit about the homeless. In the very end he opens up to Michael Brock and decides to require the lawyers at his more than 400 strong firm to handle at least one case volunteering for the rights of the homeless a month. He also requires them to volunteer for the local soup kitchens once a month too.

Braden Chance - Real Estate Lawyer at Drake & Sweeney who hides the mess he creates from the rest of the firm and Michael Brock.

Hector Palma- paralegal for Braden Chance who slips evidence to Michael Brock. Has four kids and is shipped to the firm’s establishment in Chicago after the missing evidence is noticed.

Lontae Burton - a homeless woman with four children; Ontario, Alonzo, Dante, and Temeko. They all die of asphyxiation when snow blocks the exhaust pipe of their car. They were victims of the eviction, which indirectly resulted in their deaths. Michael meets her and her children at his first volunteering at one of the soup kitchens.
Abraham Lebow- Street lawyer at 14th Street Legal Clinic. One of four who work for the clinic.

Sofia Mendoza- Social worker at 14th Street Legal Clinic. One of four who work for the clinic.

Tillman Gantry- Former owner of the warehouse that “Mister” and many other homeless were evicted.

Ruby- Homeless women addicted to crack. Shows up at the Clinic one day and seeking help to be able to see her son once again who was taken under the custody of a former family who employed her as their maid. She becomes Michael’s case and interest to help her from her addiction in order to see her son.

Megan- Director at Naomi’s (shelter for women). The same shelter Ruby attends. She watches over Ruby once Michael takes her into his interest to help her become drug-free. She becomes Michael’s new love interest at the end of the book.


Summary

It was just another day at Drake & Sweeney for Michael Brock. He was on his way to the top of a partnership with the firm and literally on an elevator to his eighth floor office. It was just him and this pungent smelling man of smoke, cheap wine, and life of homelessness. Just another guy from the streets coming in to retreat for some warmth- at least that’s what Michael Brock thought. When Brock arrived to his destination and departed from the elevator along came “Mister” behind him with a gun. In an instant “Mister” now held nine lawyers at a top-notch firm. After hours of “Mister’s” ordeal and his guilt inflicting crusade about how the nine wealthy men never gave to him or other people like him; “Mister” was shot in the head and all were safe and sound. The crusade did stick with Michael, but not with the others. Just a week later while the other eight attorneys resumed life as usual at the firm Brock was going through a permanent divine intervention. He was going through a divorce with his wife; the marriage was not at all eventful of either fighting or happiness. It just wasn’t working out and his decision to leave the firm didn’t help either. He was moving out of his cushy apartment and into an unfurnished loft which didn’t have hope to be furnished by Brock. Michael also decided the big firm and hopes for a partnership were not his calling in the business of law anymore. He chooses to take a poorly paying position at the 14th Street Legal Clinic and decides to devote his knowledge of the law to the less fortunate residents of the street. Brock in his new life is accompanied by Mordecai Green, director of the street clinic, in all the new elements of being a street lawyer and venturing into the soup kitchens. Upon leaving Drake & Sweeney, he takes with him a file about an active real estate law suit involving the eviction of some homeless at a warehouse, and one of the homeless happen to be “Mister”. Without a day of the file being stolen the big law firm soon becomes Michael’s adversary, and pursues him to get the file back. After a thorough search of the file’s content and some street resources Michael and his new legal clinic finds out that the case involved the eviction many homeless people of a warehouse. The eviction was wrongful because the residents were paying rent monthly. Some of the evicted involved “Mister” and a woman named Lontae Burton who had four children under the age of five years old. The evictions of the Burton family indirectly resulted in the death of the family. This became the lead motive to sue the Drake & Sweeney firm for Michael Brock and his legal clinic. As Michael and the rest of the firm prepare to sue they are targeted in the press by Drake & Sweeney giving them a negative image. This really didn’t matter since the 14th Street Legal Clinic was basically only noticed by the homeless; who rarely could get the news. However when Michael and his new legal clinic returned the favor Drake & Sweeney didn’t appreciate it too much since their image did matter to them. This sped up the action for beginning the lawsuit and negotiating between the two firms. In the final verdict the 14th Street Legal Clinic found justice for the homeless victims of the eviction. The street legal clinic also won the help of 400 plus volunteers from Drake & Sweeney after the senior partner, Arthur Jacobs, felt guilty about his absence of help to the homeless and decided to make it mandatory for his associates and attorneys to volunteer by taking a case each month and helping out in a shelter. Michael did lose his ability to practice the law for nine months in the final agreement of the case, but would take in his hands the responsibility of organizing fundraisers and the Drake & Sweeney volunteers during his suspension.





Review
In the John Grisham novel, The Street Lawyer, Michael starts out the book to be another prospering young lawyer hoping to make it to a partnership in his near future. The change he goes through is quite remarkable within the next 32 days of his life. The stating day of this divine intervention is an awakening to Michael when he is held hostage with eight other of his colleagues by “Mister.” As I read through the story I noticed how much and how drastically the kidnapping changed ONLY Michael, but not the other lawyers. Out of the nine who were captured it seemed only Michael comprehended the message that was delivered by “Mister.” The message was as basic as any, help the less fortunate. Through the next month of Brock’s life he took action in response to the message, even! While going through a divorce. This Grisham classic made me wonder just how many homeless there are. It also made me ponder how many very fortunate and blessed people there are with plenty of money there are too. Why? Well, it seems that, for the lawyers at Drake & Sweeney they work religiously for money and hopes of becoming a partner. Yet, they don’t enjoy their hard earned money, because they work constantly. So instead they just hoard it up in their bank accounts to collect dust. While there are thousands of homeless who could just use a couple of bucks to get their next meal, because that’s what most worry about religiously. I’m impressed by how Michael takes a step down to practice his knowledge of the law by taking in cases of the homeless and also by how he volunteers RELIGIOUSLY at the local soup kitchens in the D.C. setting. Not only does he do these things but he also looks into the “Mister’s” life and why he decided to hold him captive. Michael also looked into the death of a family he just met on his first night of volunteering and worked vigorously to show them justice to the rest of world. The great thing about that is that it did show justice and paid off for Brock and his homeless clients. In the end Grisham shows the eye-awakening power that justice can have. The very last chapter paints this well too. Arthur Jacobs, the Drake & Sweeney senior partner, comes to Brock and confronts his guilt about how he has never really helped the homeless. It shows that even senior partners need help sometimes too. Help to open their eyes and see that there is a world around them. That money isn’t everything, and that it’s only humbling and strengthening to you to help the lowly. I have to say that I really don’t like to read at all, but I really enjoyed this book and Grisham’s writing style and perspective of difficulties in the world. There’s no doubt that I would rate this book a very good book and on a scale of one to five I’d give it a four-point-seven.

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Works Cited:
"John Grisham." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Grisham.

"Amazon.com: The Street Lawyer (9780440225706): John Grisham: Books." Amazon.com: Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & More. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. <http://www.amazon.com/Street-Lawyer-John-Grisham/dp/0440225701>.