When I have time to read for pleasure nonfiction works (other than history books) usually rank way down on my priorities. This was not the case however, when I picked up the book "A Civil Action" by Jonathon Harr.
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This book is truly a page turner! The story evolves around Jan Schlichtmann who's character is an egotistical yet accomplished tort lawyer. Schlichtmann is the typical fork tongued, good looking attorney type that is portrayed so often in the movies. He works at a three person Boston lawfirm. When Schlichtmann is not out driving his Porsche or picking out expensive clothes, he represents clients against large corporations or insurance companies. He is careful about his clientele and crafty in the courtroom.
When on a routine assignment Schlichtman stumbles upon a career opportunity in the form of a multi-million dollar toxic tort case. In a small town called Woober, Schlictman discovers about 12 people who have a class action lawsuit against Beatrice foods and W.R. Grace chemicals. They claim that the water have caused several deaths (including children) in the area.
Once Schlichtmann accepts the case the race is on as he fights a multitude of lawyers and a multitude of debt. Outgunned and outspent Schlichtmann eventually loses all he has (except his tailored clothes) until eventually he must come to grips with his own mortality.
As a law student who has worked in a personal injury firm I have some experience in this area and I found this book captivating. Truly, law can be one of the most rewarding or the most stressful jobs around. There is no other excitement quite like a trial. It can captivate a spirit. Perhaps that's why filmmakers glamourize lawyers.
I wholly recommend this book. I couldn't put it down and read it in about 2 days. That's a good sign that the story is well-done.
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