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The Litigators

The Litigators

3.8 1125
by John Grisham

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The partners at Finley & Figg—all two of them—often refer to themselves as “a boutique law firm.” Boutique, as in chic, selective, and prosperous. They are, of course, none of these things. What they are is a two-bit operation always in search of their big break, ambulance chasers who’ve been in the trenches much too long making way too


The partners at Finley & Figg—all two of them—often refer to themselves as “a boutique law firm.” Boutique, as in chic, selective, and prosperous. They are, of course, none of these things. What they are is a two-bit operation always in search of their big break, ambulance chasers who’ve been in the trenches much too long making way too little. Their specialties, so to speak, are quickie divorces and DUIs, with the occasional jackpot of an actual car wreck thrown in. After twenty plus years together, Oscar Finley and Wally Figg bicker like an old married couple but somehow continue to scratch out a half-decent living from their seedy bungalow offices in southwest Chicago.

And then change comes their way. More accurately, it stumbles in. David Zinc, a young but already burned-out attorney, walks away from his fast-track career at a fancy downtown firm, goes on a serious bender, and finds himself literally at the doorstep of our boutique firm. Once David sobers up and comes to grips with the fact that he’s suddenly unemployed, any job—even one with Finley & Figg—looks okay to him.

With their new associate on board, F&F is ready to tackle a really big case, a case that could make the partners rich without requiring them to actually practice much law. An extremely popular drug, Krayoxx, the number one cholesterol reducer for the dangerously overweight, produced by Varrick Labs, a giant pharmaceutical company with annual sales of $25 billion, has recently come under fire after several patients taking it have suffered heart attacks. Wally smells money.

A little online research confirms Wally’s suspicions—a huge plaintiffs’ firm in Florida is putting together a class action suit against Varrick. All Finley & Figg has to do is find a handful of people who have had heart attacks while taking Krayoxx, convince them to become clients, join the class action, and ride along to fame and fortune. With any luck, they won’t even have to enter a courtroom!

It almost seems too good to be true.

And it is.

The Litigators
is a tremendously entertaining romp, filled with the kind of courtroom strategies, theatrics, and suspense that have made John Grisham America’s favorite storyteller.

Editorial Reviews

Louis Bayard
…if you're a Grisham apostate, now might be the time to get reacquainted. And this snappy, well-turned novel might be a good place to start…Grisham brings his usual nuanced understanding of tort law and civil jurisprudence, but he seems just as interested in the non-experts…At the risk of making Grisham sound pretentious or—worse—boring, I would argue that his true subject—now that he has the luxury to explore it—is how the law serves as both accessory and antagonist to our dreams.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Grisham's entertaining modern-day legal thriller offers a bitingly farcical look at lawyers at the bottom of the food chain. David Zinc, an associate at a Chicago mega-firm who's sick of the sweatshop he's been laboring in for five years, flees the office one morning and ends up spending all day in a bar. Soon after the bartender finally kicks him out, Zinc spots an ad on a city bus for a firm of ambulance-chasers, Finley & Figg, and resolves to join their hapless practice. Meanwhile, Wally Figg, one of Finley & Figg's two partners, thinks he's found a goldmine after learning that a client who died recently was taking an anti-cholesterol drug called Krayoxx. Zinc, who has zero litigation experience, aids Finley & Figg, who likewise lack litigation experience, in filing suit against the huge pharmaceutical company that produces Krayoxx. Grisham (The Confession) makes Zinc's personal transformation more convincing than his professional one. Some readers may feel the fairy tale ending clashes with the dark humor of the opening. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“Brilliant . . . Superb . . . the kind of grab-a-reader-by-the-shoulders suspense story that demands to be inhaled as quickly as possible.” —Washington Post

“One of Grisham’s best efforts in many seasons . . . a rous­ing return to his dexterous good-guy-faces-corrupt-system storytelling.” —People magazine

“Packed with tension, legal roadblocks, and shocking rev­elations.” —USA Today

Kirkus Reviews
A tight (in a couple of senses), unexpectedly comic courtroom saga from veteran legal eagle Grisham (The Confession, 2011, etc.). After an unhappy showing with last year's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer, Grisham is back in grown-up land. But grown-up is as grown-up does, and the characters who populate this latest are very, well, morally compromised—and on all sides of the law. One, David Zinc, cuts a formidable figure at the bar—and, once he's decided that, even though he's in his early 30s, he's done with practicing law at a huge corporate firm in downtown Chicago, he cuts a still more formidable figure drinking himself stupid at the nearest watering hole ("Do you serve breakfast?" "Yep, it's called a Bloody Mary"). A long bout of sucking down the sauce later, David has fallen far in the world, so far that he's now in cahoots with a practice that likes to call itself a "boutique firm," but that is in truth made up of a couple of dictionary-definition ambulance-chasers. Make that hearse-chasers: The brilliant legal minds at Finley & Figg like nothing better than to feed at the bottom, scouring the news and the obituaries for profit-inducing mayhem, for something, anything, to sue for. It's a hit-or-miss business, but with David on board, the partners' fortunes would seem to hold greater promise. Ah, but this is a Grisham novel, and the justice that's served up, as always, cuts both ways. There are a couple of holes in the plot (if David wants out of the law so badly, why does he so quickly fall right back into it?), but Grisham has a blast with all the righteous mischief in a tale with no real heroes and plenty of villains, with Big Pharma at the heart of the story. He writes with good humor, mostly, but with some calculating nastiness as well ("Oscar's perfect outcome would be breaking news of a pending settlement at about the same time his wife croaked on the drug"). Grisham's latest is a hoot—and, with its insider's view of jury selection and other dirty tricks, a very good reason to hope to steer clear of a courtroom.

Product Details

Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd.
Publication date:

Read an Excerpt

The law firm of Finley & Figg referred to itself as a “boutique firm.” This misnomer was inserted as often as possible into routine conver­sations, and it even appeared in print in some of the various schemes hatched by the partners to solicit business. When used properly, it implied that Finley & Figg was something above your average two-bit operation. Boutique, as in small, gifted, and expert in one specialized area. Boutique, as in pretty cool and chic, right down to the French-­ness of the word itself. Boutique, as in thoroughly happy to be small, selective, and prosperous.
Except for its size, it was none of these things. Finley & Figg’s scam was hustling injury cases, a daily grind that required little skill or creativity and would never be considered cool or sexy. Profits were as elusive as status. The firm was small because it couldn’t afford to grow. It was selective only because no one wanted to work there, including the two men who owned it. Even its location suggested a monotonous life out in the bush leagues. With a Vietnamese massage parlor to its left and a lawn mower repair shop to its right, it was clear at a casual glance that Finley & Figg was not prospering. There was another boutique firm directly across the street—hated rivals—and more lawyers around the corner. In fact, the neighborhood was teeming with lawyers, some working alone, others in small firms, others still in versions of their own little boutiques.
F&F’s address was on Preston Avenue, a busy street filled with old bungalows now converted and used for all manner of commercial activity. There was retail (liquor, cleaners, massages) and professional (legal, dental, lawn mower repair) and culinary (enchiladas, baklava, and pizza to go). Oscar Finley had won the building in a lawsuit twenty years earlier. What the address lacked in prestige it sort of made up for in location. Two doors away was the intersection of Preston, Beech, and Thirty- eighth, a chaotic convergence of asphalt and traffic that guaranteed at least one good car wreck a week, and often more. F&F’s annual overhead was covered by collisions that happened less than one hundred yards away. Other law firms, boutique and otherwise, were often prowling the area in hopes of finding an available, cheap bunga­low from which their hungry lawyers could hear the actual squeal of tires and crunching of metal.
With only two attorneys/partners, it was of course mandatory that one be declared the senior and the other the junior. The senior partner was Oscar Finley, age sixty-two, a thirty-year survivor of the bare- knuckle brand of law found on the tough streets of southwest Chicago. Oscar had once been a beat cop but got himself terminated for crack­ing skulls. He almost went to jail but instead had an awakening and went to college, then law school. When no firms would hire him, he hung out his own little shingle and started suing anyone who came near. Thirty-two years later, he found it hard to believe that for thirty- two years he’d wasted his career suing for past-due accounts receivable, fender benders, slip-and-falls, and quickie divorces. He was still mar­ried to his first wife, a terrifying woman he wanted to sue every day for his own divorce. But he couldn’t afford it. After thirty-two years of lawyering, Oscar Finley couldn’t afford much of anything.
His junior partner—and Oscar was prone to say things like, “I’ll get my junior partner to handle it,” when trying to impress judges and other lawyers and especially prospective clients—was Wally Figg, age forty-five. Wally fancied himself a hardball litigator, and his blustery ads promised all kinds of aggressive behavior. “We Fight for Your Rights!” and “Insurance Companies Fear Us!” and “We Mean Business!” Such ads could be seen on park benches, city transit buses, cabs, high school football programs, even telephone poles, though this violated several ordinances. The ads were not seen in two crucial markets—television and billboards. Wally and Oscar were still fighting over these. Oscar refused to spend the money—both types were horribly expensive—and Wally was still scheming. His dream was to see his smiling face and slick head on television saying dreadful things about insurance compa­nies while promising huge settlements to injured folks wise enough to call his toll-free number.
But Oscar wouldn’t even pay for a billboard. Wally had one picked out. Six blocks from the office, at the corner of Beech and Thirty- second, high above the swarming traffic, on top of a four-story tene­ment house, there was the most perfect billboard in all of metropolitan Chicago. Currently hawking cheap lingerie (with a comely ad, Wally had to admit), the billboard had his name and face written all over it. But Oscar still refused.
Wally’s law degree came from the prestigious University of Chi­cago School of Law. Oscar picked his up at a now-defunct place that once offered courses at night. Both took the bar exam three times. Wally had four divorces under his belt; Oscar could only dream. Wally wanted the big case, the big score with millions of dollars in fees. Oscar wanted only two things—divorce and retirement.
How the two men came to be partners in a converted house on Preston Avenue was another story. How they survived without chok­ing each other was a daily mystery.
Their referee was Rochelle Gibson, a robust black woman with attitude and savvy earned on the streets from which she came. Ms. Gibson handled the front—the phone, the reception, the prospective clients arriving with hope and the disgruntled ones leaving in anger, the occasional typing (though her bosses had learned if they needed something typed, it was far simpler to do it themselves), the firm dog, and, most important, the constant bickering between Oscar and Wally.
Years earlier, Ms. Gibson had been injured in a car wreck that was not her fault. She then compounded her troubles by hiring the law firm of Finley & Figg, though not by choice. Twenty- four hours after the crash, bombed on Percocet and laden with splints and plaster casts, Ms. Gibson had awakened to the grinning, fleshy face of Attorney Wallis Figg hovering over her hospital bed. He was wearing a set of aquamarine scrubs, had a stethoscope around his neck, and was doing a good job of impersonating a physician. Wally tricked her into signing a contract for legal representation, promised her the moon, sneaked out of the room as quietly as he’d sneaked in, then proceeded to butcher her case. She netted $40,000, which her husband drank and gambled away in a matter of weeks, which led to a divorce action filed by Oscar Finley. He also handled her bankruptcy. Ms. Gibson was not impressed with either lawyer and threatened to sue both for malpractice. This got their attention—they had been hit with similar lawsuits—and they worked hard to placate her. As her troubles multiplied, she became a fixture at the office, and with time the three became comfortable with one another.
Finley & Figg was a tough place for secretaries. The pay was low, the clients were generally unpleasant, the other lawyers on the phone were rude, the hours were long, but the worst part was dealing with the two partners. Oscar and Wally had tried the mature route, but the older gals couldn’t handle the pressure. They had tried youth but got themselves sued for sexual harassment when Wally couldn’t keep his paws off a busty young thing. (They settled out of court for $50,000 and got their names in the newspaper.) Rochelle Gibson happened to be at the office one morning when the then-current secretary quit and stormed out. With the phone ringing and partners yelling, Ms. Gibson moved over to the front desk and calmed things down. Then she made a pot of coffee. She was back the next day, and the next. Eight years later, she was still running the place.
Her two sons were in prison. Wally had been their lawyer, though in all fairness no one could have saved them. As teenagers, both boys kept Wally busy with their string of arrests on various drug charges. Their dealing got more involved, and Wally warned them repeatedly they were headed for prison, or death. He said the same to Ms. Gibson, who had little control over the boys and often prayed for prison. When their crack ring got busted, they were sent away for ten years. Wally got it reduced from twenty and received no gratitude from the boys. Ms. Gibson offered a tearful thanks. Through all their troubles, Wally never charged her a fee for his representation.
Over the years, there had been many tears in Ms. Gibson’s life, and they had often been shed in Wally’s office with the door locked. He gave advice and tried to help when possible, but his greatest role was that of a listener.
Excerpted from The Litigators by John Grisham. Copyright © 2011 by Belfry Holdings, Inc.
Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

JOHN GRISHAM is the author of twenty-three novels, one work of nonfiction, a collection of stories, and two novels for young readers. He lives in Virginia and Mississippi.

Brief Biography

Oxford, Mississippi, and Albemarle County, Virginia
Date of Birth:
February 8, 1955
Place of Birth:
Jonesboro, Arkansas
B.S., Mississippi State, 1977; J.D., University of Mississippi, 1981

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The Litigators 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1125 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
John Grisham has done it again, in my opinion. The Litigators is a face paced, fun read. He develops the characters and plot well but doesn't let it drag. Unlike some of his past offerings he doesn't run out of gas near the end of the story and just wrap things up to say he did. I highly recommend this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Know that's not the usual comment for Grisham's books,but this one didn't pull any punches. Very witty and accurate descriptions of the TRUE way the legal world works. Some of the scenes had me literally laughing out loud. Guess he doesn 't care about offending anyone and I for one am glad! All of the characters were great. Bring it on!!!
KISKA777 More than 1 year ago
I was surprised after I finshed the book. It is not best, but it is not your regular riveting-Grisham, to which we've all become accustomed... The book gets a bit boring at times, but still, is an OK read...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not up to Grisham's usual standards. It is only a bestseller because it has his name on it. If it had been written by anyone else, it probably wouldn't have even been published.
jsandoval82 More than 1 year ago
What Happened here? With reading all of Grisham books it seemed to have stories of other books entangled into this one. I felt at times it was a condensed version of past books. It is a story about mass tort case, a lawyer, and the daily life of your standard mom and pop law firm. While the story was interesting, it became boring and mudane at times. After forcing myself through some chapters, I was had a feeling of accomplishment and a lack of understanding in how this played in. While he added a bunch of jargon that I found that was unrelated to this particular story line he seemed to rush though smaller cases that was brought up in the story and rushed through them. Although Grisham being such a great author he had his standard twists and turns as he does in other books, but it was very predictiable, and was not my favorite read by Grishma to date.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
coudnt put it down! read it and enjoy. grisham at his best
bookholiday More than 1 year ago
I've read all John Grisham's books and loved each, so can't wait to read the next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not one of Grisham best work.
western More than 1 year ago
This book starts out slow and when you get to the point of saying to yourself where is this going? Then it hits the road and your off on another JG thriller of the minds and hearts of men and women that touch the Law and are forever are changed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First i wondered if my taste was changing or if Mr. Grisham lost his zeal. But upon completing the book i have to say that it feels as if this book was rushed or that the author stopped caring. Kinda feels like a book written for contract puproses using name and name alone inspired this work of fiction. Halfway through i grew bored as it mutteled oger mundain matters nd used lots of words seeming to flill the blank spaces. By this time is was evident how the story would end but still, it continued to babble on and add nothing new and exciting. Also took too much time explaining itself and the characters. Im still a fan and am hoping abduction brings me back and reinvigerate me as king of torts, the firm. The partner and so on. Im hopping.......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book started off like a cozy. It has well developed characters, and, unusual in a Grisham book, it's actually funny.
JenniWickham More than 1 year ago
I give a 3.5 to this one. While this is not really a mystery per se (it has no murder or any other crime in it), it is definitely engaging legal drama in the civil litigation arena. What struck me most and made it a very entertaining read is the humour - the loveable (almost Dickensian) character Wally, the ambulance chasing pet dog AC, and the loud secretary Rochelle, paired with an occasional secondary character like DeeAnna, makes a colourful ensemble of characters that litters the pages with hilarious situations and laugh out loud humour. The plot is a bit predictable, but the character casting is superb. The narrative and the prose is what I call "utilitarian." I guess this is not supposed to be literary fiction. John Grisham pulls of a nice, very satisfying, though very predictable, ending in this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Grisham owns the genre of legal thriller. A+
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought the litigators was a little slow, and there weren't really any characters that I was rooting for. Didn't enjoy it as much as I usually like Grisham's novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Only grisham could put so many great laughs intoa story about lawyers
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had read some reviews that lead me to believe this might not be a typical GRISHAM GREAT. So wrong! Anotger great read. Glad I bought it ti add to my collection!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grisham delievers in this exciting,page turner book.the characters are interesting as well as the storyline.
deloFL More than 1 year ago
Although John Grisham books are usally exciting this one crawls along at a very slow pace.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a reviewer, a reader, and a retired lawyer, I enjoyed The Litigators immensely and wonder what more one can expect from a legal novel that is marketed to a wide audience.
LouFin More than 1 year ago
This book read like it was just written because Grisham wanted to write something because he needed money or? Not what I expected, no mystery, no plot, no real story. LouFinley
Anonymous 7 months ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is just not enough to the story. Expected more.