Why Do So Many Lawyers Write Novels

Why Do So Many Lawyers Write Novels

Ever wonder why so many lawyers write novels? And very successful ones at​ that? Just think of​ John Grisham and Scott Turow,​ both of​ whom have written exciting,​ entertaining stories that grab hold of​ us until the​ very last page.

Both men have had active legal careers in​ the​ criminal courts. Every day,​ they have dealt [literally] with life and death issues. Every day,​ they have witnessed the​ brutal effects of​ crime upon victims,​ families and upon the​ lives of​ the​ perpetrators and their families.

Often crime is​ a​ matter of​ fiery emotion erupting into the​ apparent ‘normality’ of​ everyday life. the​ law tries hard and does much to​ maintain that ordered calm Yet,​ while we​ prize that peaceful vision,​ every one is​ tantalized by the​ prospect of​ what lies beneath it. the​ eruption of​ its opposite fascinates us. ‘Madness’ we​ call it. of​ course,​ it​ exists in​ others but never in​ us,​ so far as​ we​ are aware.

Now put a​ lawyer into the​ situation where he or​ she is​ dealing with these highly emotional stakes and is​ at​ the​ same time is​ trying to​ maintain some sort of​ order. What effect does this exposure have on​ a​ human being? of​ course,​ it​ can lead to​ burn out or​ the​ choice of​ another occupation. Some lawyers harden themselves and just get on​ with the​ job and hide the​ effects upon themselves in​ some dark dungeon of​ the​ psyche.

Other lawyers see this as​ an​ opportunity and undoubtedly,​ it​ fulfils a​ need. in​ fact,​ law practice gives him or​ her a​ wonderful window on​ humanity. Every day,​ the​ lawyer deals with murder,​ theft and fraud. He sees the​ worst of​ human nature and strives to​ find the​ best and achieve a​ balance. How can that lawyer not think about and comment upon that? How can she not draw conclusions from what she experiences and learns from such dramatic situations?

Most of​ us go from day to​ day in​ the​ ‘normal’ tangible world,​ acting as​ if​ that is​ all that exists. we​ have our families,​ our houses and our cars. we​ go to​ the​ office,​ the​ mall,​ the​ movies and out to​ restaurants. But deep down,​ we​ recognize somewhere in​ us that there is​ much more to​ life and human nature than meets the​ eye. Every day,​ the​ newspaper tells us so. we​ read that last night,​ a​ man raped an​ elderly woman and stole ten dollars from her purse and a​ mother took the​ life of​ her child. There must be a​ whole other dimension to​ life,​ but not ours.

I like to​ think that there is​ much more to​ human life than meets the​ eye. Joseph Campbell,​ an​ author [a mythologist,​ not a​ novelist] I greatly admire said that “The latest incarnation of​ Oedipus,​ the​ continued romance of​ Beauty and the​ Beast,​ stands this afternoon on​ the​ corner of​ Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue,​ waiting for the​ traffic light to​ change.”

Oedipus? You know,​ the​ one who lent his name to​ the​ mother complex. What on​ earth could Campbell have meant? Simply this,​ that each and every one of​ us [whether or​ not we​ are conscious of​ it] is​ acting out all the​ great mythological themes and dramas in​ our lives. And the​ lawyer has a​ front row seat on​ the​ action. How could they not write about it? Such work is​ tremendously popular because we​ like to​ glimpse that side of​ human nature from the​ safety of​ an​ armchair.

Now,​ I am just an​ estates lawyer. I have never had a​ murder or​ rape trial. But,​ in​ my practice I have seen the​ inmost workings of​ families. For example,​ when a​ parent dies,​ I have learned that there is​ often far more at​ work than just a​ tidy accounting. in​ other cases,​ I have seen almost every variation upon elder abuse,​ whether it​ is​ physical,​ financial or​ emotional. This is​ just another form of​ murder or​ rape.

An estate lawyer is​ witness to​ and participant in​ every conceivable human relationship and interaction at​ a​ highly volatile time. And so,​ that has been my window on​ the​ world and the​ inspiration for three novels: Conduct in​ Question,​ Final Paradox and a​ Trial of​ One,​ all part of​ the​ Osgoode Trilogy,​ in​ which I like to​ explore the​ effects of​ this dark side of​ humanity on​ Harry Jenkins.

Who is​ Harry? He is​ an​ estates lawyer and the​ protagonist of​ the​ trilogy,​ in​ which there’s plenty of​ murder and fraud in​ estate distribution. Indeed,​ I’ve thrown plenty of​ questions at​ him,​ such as​ how much money is​ enough? Can love and forgiveness be found amid fraud and deceit and must you be selfless to​ be compassionate?

And so,​ the​ question is​ really,​ how can a​ lawyer not be inspired to​ write especially when he or​ she is​ witness to​ so much of​ human relations?

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