Ten lawyers who became authors
If you have ever thought to yourself “the last thing we need is another lawyer,” here are a list of ten to change your mind:
1.Erle Henry Gardner
The Case of the Stuttering Bishop
Famed for creating Perry Mason, Gardner turned to writing for pulp magazines because he found being a lawyer so dull. He penned more than 80 novels about Mason, the lawyer-turned-sleuth, from 1933 until his death in 1970. Gardner wrote under various pseudonyms, including A. A. Fair who was listed as the author of a series of mystery novels about the Bertha Cool and Donald Lam private detective firm.
2. John Grisham
A Time to Kill
Now retired in order to count his millions, Grisham is famous for his legal thrillers including The Firm (1991) and The Pelican Brief (1992). After graduating from law school, he practiced general law in Southaven, Mississippi. In 1996, the superstar novelist came out of retirement to successfully represent the family of a railroad brakeman crushed to death between two cars. Grisham has penned 21 novels – The Associate being his latest.
3. Scott Turow
Still a highly successful practicing lawyer, Turow is well known for his legal thrillers such as Presumed Innocent (1987) and Pleading Guilty (1993), but his non-fiction book, One L, from 1977 is also very well regarded. One L is Turow’s journal of his first year at law school and has become an essential read for prospective law students. Ironically, Turow’s novels are set in Kindle County.
4. Meg Gardiner
Acclaimed by Stephen King, Meg Gardiner is now on her third career – she has practiced law in Los Angeles, taught writing at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and now writes thrillers while living in the UK. She has penned five Evan Delaney novels – China Lake, Mission Canyon, Jericho Point, Crosscut and Kill Chain. Delaney is a journalist-sleuth who gave up a legal career.
5. John Mortimer
Rumpole and the Primrose Path
That’s Sir John Clifford Mortimer, CBE, QC, to you. This English barrister created Rumpole of the Bailey but his legal career was not dull. He contested a number of high profile obscenity cases including defending Virgin Records over use of the word ‘bollocks’ on the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks album. Rumpole is the wine-swilling, cigar-wielding, Wordsworth-quoting lawyer addicted to the push and shove of the courtroom.
6. Richard North Patterson
The Lasko Tangent
A former assistant attorney general for Ohio and high-ranking lawyer, North Patterson won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best debut mystery in 1980 with The Lasko Tangent – a corporate crime thriller. He quit law in 1993 to write full time and the bestsellers kept coming, including No Safe Place, Eyes of a Child, and Dark Lady. His latest release is Eclipse.
7. Wallace Stevens
The Auroras of Autumn
This American modernist poet paid the bills by working as a lawyer for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut, but he’ll be remembered for his poetry. His debut book of poems was called Harmonium and included memorable poems such as Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Blackbird. Did the legal to-ing and fro-ing of the insurance world inspire his poetry? Probably not.
8. John Buchan
The Thirty-Nine Steps
Buchan, also known as Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield when sitting in the House of Lords, began his working life in law but quickly switched to politics. In his autobiography, Memory Hold-the-Door, he reveals law failed to inspire him in the least. Buchan, who also served as Governor General of Canada, is best known for the classic adventure tale, The Thirty-Nine Steps, but he was a prolific writer over the years.
9. Louis Auchincloss
Portrait in Brownstone
Famous for family sagas like The House of Five Talents, Portrait in Brownstone, and East Side Story, Auchincloss worked as a lawyer for many years. He has also written short story collections and much non-fiction, including Pioneers and Caretakers: A Study of Nine American Women Novelists (1965), Edith Wharton: A Woman in Her Time (1972) and Reading Henry James (1975).
10. Henry Fielding
The History of Tom Jones
The author of Tom Jones, one of literature’s great comic novels published in 1749, was also an influential magistrate in 18th century London and one of the founders of the Bow Street Runners – the city’s first professional police force. He also campaigned for judicial reform and for the improvement of conditions in Britain’s woeful prisons.