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The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Rooster BarWriting about young law students or those just recently admitted to the bar has always been a good stomping ground for Grisham. And The Rooster Bar really fills the bill!

A group of law students attending Foggy Bottom Law School basically get together on several evening meetings and begin discussing the Foggy Bottom Law School. One of them especially has been looking into some strange things about the school as far as placement of graduates and also failure rates etc. He is determined that something is not right so he tells his two buddies and his girlfriend that he is putting together a study to either prove or disprove his theory.

Basically he finds in his studies that the bulk of the lower rated law schools, such as Foggy Bottom, not only produce fewer top graduates. But also strangely enough many of these lower rated schools appear to be owned by a group of industrialists who would not appear to have any interest particularly in further education and definitely not in law degrees. No one takes his findings too seriously but he continues with his theories.

As it turns out the four friends are not doing too well and appear to only be piling up debt by furthering their education. Although they only have one more semester before graduation and the state bar exam they feel that it is probably going to be a waste of time. They are beginning to look at other fields but the one doing the study of the schools is determined that there is something that ties all these schools to one multi-millionaire businessman. He is determined to go deeper into his study to get proof so that he can tip over the whole “scheme” as he calls it.

In the meantime one who has been working part time as a bartender gets the other guy to join him in not only bartending but pulling off a scheme in the courts. It turns out that somehow he has figured out that many people gather around in the courthouse looking for despondent victims who have been arrested and have no legal representation. He discovers that unlicensed folks like he and his buddy can introduce themselves to folks who have been in front of the judge and told to report back for a hearing. Many of them have no lawyers with them but other young people, like the two of these students, step forward and offer assistance.

After spending some time studying the system the two of them begin stepping up and becoming “lawyers” who represent these folks in need. The scheme is such that they quote a price for defense, take a down payment, and then actually work with the prosecuting attorney to find out the charges. They then work out plea deals to keep their newfound defendants out of jail.

This works out well for some time and even the girl in the Foggy Bottom group gets involved when a “accident” claims the life of her boyfriend lover.

Needless to say all good things come to an end and Grisham builds and builds until the end seems almost out of sight. How all of this turns out is a really good reason to read the book. As usual Grisham has built a tremendous story with all sorts of twists and turns but none that leave you out in the cold.

Great writing with little profanity and no sex are all Grisham trademarks and The Rooster Bar continues in that direction. Great read!

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