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In the Shadow of the Lawby Kermit Roosevelt
Synopses & Reviews
Morgan Siler is one of Washington, D.C.'s most powerful K Street law firms, its roster of clients stocked with multi-billion-dollar corporations. Through the obsessive efforts of its founder's son, Peter Morgan, his father's old-fashioned business has been transformed into a veritable goliath, embracing bankruptcy and merger divisions that Archibald Morgan had deemed ungentlemanly. As Peter reaches the pinnacle of his career, his firm is embroiled in two difficult cases: a pro bono death-penalty case in Virginia, and a class-action lawsuit brought against Hubble Chemical of Texas after an on-site explosion killed dozens of workers.
Assigned to these cases is a group of young associates and seasoned partners struggling to make their way in the firm. Mark Clayton, fresh out of law school, is beginning to loathe his dull workload, and to be frightened by the downgrading of his personal life, when he is assigned to the pro bono case. Assisting him is the mercurial Walker Eliot, a brilliant third-year associate whose passion for the law is as great as his skill at unraveling its intricacies. The aggressive, profane, and wildly successful litigator Harold Fineman is leading the Hubble defense, assisted by first-year Katja Phillips, whose twin devotion to productivity and idealism intrigue him, and Ryan Grady, another first-year, whose quest to pick up girls is starting to interfere with his work.
In this complex, ambitious, and gripping first novel, Kermit Roosevelt vividly illustrates the subtle and stark effects of the law on the lives not only of a group of lawyers, but also on communities and private citizens. In the Shadow of the Law is a meditation about the life of the law, the organism that is a law firm, and its impact on those who come within its powerful orbit.
"This outstanding debut goes behind the scenes at Morgan Siler, one of Washington, D.C.'s most powerful K Street law firms, as several lawyers become embroiled in two difficult cases: a pro bono death penalty case in Virginia and a class action suit brought against a Texas chemical corporation after an explosion kills dozens of workers. Assigned to the pro bono case is the earnest, rumpled first-year associate Mark Clayton, who wonders, as he struggles with sleep deprivation and trying to reach his billable-hours target, if he hasn't made a terrible career choice. Also on the case is the brilliant, cocksure young lawyer Walker Eliot. Leading the Hubble Chemical defense is the ferocious litigator Harold Fineman, and lording over them all is Peter Morgan, the supremely confident, never-satisfied managing partner of the firm. Though the novel features plenty of satisfying twists and turns, the book transcends the legal thriller genre. Roosevelt, who practiced and teaches law and who once clerked for Justice Souter, offers a fascinating insider's look into the culture of a high-stakes firm, while also presenting a considered meditation on the law itself and its potential to compromise those driven to practice it. Most of all it's the vividness and complexity of the characters — drawn with the precision and authority of a winning legal argument — that heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice. Agent, Tina Bennett. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In this complex, ambitious, and gripping first novel, Roosevelt vividly illustrates the subtle and stark effects of the law on the lives not only of a group of lawyers, but also on communities and private citizens.
A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year
Winner of the Philadelphia Athenaeum Literary Award
In the Shadow of the Law is the story of Morgan Siler, a powerful Washington, D.C., law firm that has transformed itself from a traditional practice serving those most in need into a shrewd giant serving the interests of the wealthy. Through the intertwined stories of a pro bono murder case and a class action lawsuit brought against a large chemical company, we meet the fascinating, engaging, and conflicted characters that make up this world: Mark Clayton, the rookie; Walker Eliot, the prodigy; Katja Phillips, the idealist; and Harold Fineman, the brilliant and burned-out partner, leader of the chemical company's defense team. With a thorny and breathtakingly paced narrative, In the Shadow of the Law marks the arrival of a writer who "stakes a firm claim to the literary territory of Scott Turow" (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans).
About the Author
Kermit Roosevelt is an assistant professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Having worked at law firms in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Roosevelt is a former clerk to a U.S. Supreme Court justice, a graduate of Yale Law School, and a member of the Human Rights Advisory Board of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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