Mutual attraction

The romance of law makes Legal Fictions smart summer reading, says Roger Trapp

Move over, John Grisham and Scott Turow. This summer's smart beach reading among the legal fraternity could well be Legal Fictions, an anthology of "short stories about lawyers and the law".

Since they are producers of doorstep-sized works, there is no room for those lawyers-turned-thriller writers Messrs Grisham and Turow. But their absence is more than made up for by such names as Isabel Allende, Graham Greene, Nadine Gordimer, Margaret Atwood, Garrison Keillor, Herman Melville, Franz Kafka and Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Such a list clearly sets this volume apart from most other collections. But to be fair, as the editor, Jay Wishingrad - a lawyer himself - admits, the criteria for inclusion are fairly broad. "Legal Fictions purposely extends the very loose and ever-expanding boundaries of the field of law and literature to encompass many stories where there may be little or no law, but a lawyer is the protagonist," he writes in his introduction.

But then it would appear that the lawyer-as-character is rather more interesting to Mr Wishingrad than the law-as-subject. After all, it gives him the opportunity to discuss the differences between lawyers in the 19th century - as described by Melville - and those in the 20th, as well as the different viewpoints of "young lawyers, junior partners, senior partners and name partners", not to mention the differences between those in corporate firms and those like Margaret Atwood's female lawyer who finds that the "kind of woman she represented never had money".

But while many of the contributors are stars of the international writing firmament, there are a few genuine lawyers among them. Britain's John Mortimer is naturally represented by Rumpole, while Louis Auchincloss, former partner in an old Wall Street firm, merits two inclusions.

And this very fact gets to the heart of Mr Wishingrad's point that there is something about the law that attracts writers and something about writing that attracts lawyers. This is partly, he suggests, because the short story "is in many ways akin to the so-called 'fact statement' in a legal brief - a lawyer's written argument to the court on a client's behalf".

Be that as it may, as a lawyer might say, there might also be something in the fact that both callings - even nowadays - have a fair degree of romance attached to them. With a little imagination, it is possible to believe that you are dealing with important issues on a regular basis. And it is surely no accident that Hollywood maintains an enduring fascination with the law, and with courts in particular.

And if you think that is fanciful, try assessing the chances of getting a publisher for a book of short stories about any other profession apart from medicine. Talking of which, any takers for a similar volume based on accountancy? I can think of a story called The Accountant by the acclaimed American novelist Ethan Canin, but are there any others? Answers on a postcard.

'Legal Fictions', edited by Jay Wishingrad, is published by Quartet Books, price pounds 10.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    SThree: HR Benefits Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

    £30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

    Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

    £250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003