ABA Journal

25 greatest law novels…ever!


The ABA Journal has been exploring a fascinating romance between lawyers and popular culture. We’ve traced this connection through films and plays and television, and the conclusion is inescapable: Not only do lawyers seem to love pop culture; pop culture seems to love lawyers back.

But this year we’re raising the bar. We’ve attempted to survey the world of literature to find the best portrayals of lawyers and the law. To do so, we convened a panel of experts—a worthy group of particularly well-read lawyers and scholars—and asked for their nominations. We composed a ballot that included more than 100 of the greatest novels ever written—novels whose storylines revolved around lawyers or legal cases or the moral milieu of the law.

From that ballot, our panel picked their personal favorites. Their choices defined for us the top 25 legal novels (actually 26, as you’ll see). But more than that, they gave us the starting point for a discussion we intend to keep having on how and why the law is such a comfortable starting place for our narratives about human life. These are stories that have endured for years or decades, or even generations. Many of them are familiar; some of them, less so. Among them are stories of life and death, courage and betrayal, loyalty and honor, revenge and redemption—in other words, human existence.

Choose your favorite with this poll, criticize our choices in the comments or simply put together a reading list of your own. But your starting point is here, in the photo gallery above: our list of the greatest law novels ever.

Click here to check out the 25 novels.

Click here to see which books narrowly missed the list and read essays from the judges about their choices.

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