Paralegals Featured in Literature

Brian Craig, Online Paralegal Program Chair at Globe University, Minnesota School of Business and Broadview University follows up his Paralegals Who Have Become Successful Fiction Writers post from last week with another look at the career through literature.

Legal fiction has become one of the most popular genres in modern literature with popular authors including John Grisham, David Baldacci, Michael Connelly, and William Bernhardt. Grisham’s novels often appear on the top of the New York Times best seller lists and there are currently over 275 million John Grisham books in print worldwide.  Along with the portrayal of lawyers, paralegals have appeared in a number of books in the legal fiction genre as both primary and secondary characters.

In the popular Ben Kincaid series by William Bernhardt, Christina McCall works as a paralegal for lawyer Ben Kincaid. In Primary Justice (Ballantine Books, 2005), the first novel in the Ben Kincaid series, Christina McCall is an engaging, streetwise legal assistant. Christina McCall is a recurring character in the Ben Kincaid series which has 16 novels as of 2012.

In Mistress of Justice by Jeffrey Deaver (Bantam, 2002), Taylor Lockwood spends her days working as a paralegal in one of New York’s preeminent Wall Street law firms and her nights playing jazz piano anyplace she can. Taylor’s life becomes disrupted when attorney Mitchell Reece requests her help in locating a stolen  document that could cost him not only the multimillion-dollar case he’s defending but his career as well.

In Hide and Snoop, the latest book in the Odelia Grey series by Sue Ann Jaffarian (Midnight Ink 2012), Odelia Grey work as a law firm and a merger at the firm has put her job in jeopardy, and her new icy-cold boss, Erica Mayfield, has it in for her.

In The Parallel World by D. M. Henry (AbbottPress, 2012), paralegal Alexandra Cayhill works at a Baltimore law firm where she puts in grueling sixty-hour work weeks, isn’t appreciated, and needs a raise. When Alexandra’s firm is retained to defend suspected war criminal General Joseph Kimbala at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Alexandra joins the defense dream team and moves to The Hague for what is supposed to be a routine, if high-profile, case.

In 2011, the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal established the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, a literary award to be given annually to published fiction that “best exemplifies the positive role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change” based on the character Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. For his best-selling novel The Confession, Grisham became the inaugural winner for the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction in 2011. Michael Connell received the 2012 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction for The Fifth Witness with the character Mickey Haller. The character Mickey Haller was also featured in the movie The Lincoln Lawyer starring Matthew McConaughey. Along with lawyers, paralegals and legal assistants can have a positive role in society and have the ability to effect change.