Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

Appellate attorney's novel 'Proof' wins 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

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Cindy Tobisman and her book Proof

Cynthia E. Tobisman and her novel Proof, which has been awarded the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. (Photo and book cover courtesy of the author.)

Cynthia E. Tobisman has won the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction for her second published novel, Proof.

“I am honored, humbled, and frankly, totally stunned,” Tobisman said in a press release. “The spirit of To Kill A Mockingbird is the spirit of one person’s ability to make the world a little more fair. That the selection committee saw that spirit in my book is something that I will treasure forever.”

Tobisman is a partner with Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland in Los Angeles, where she practices appellate law. Under the name C. E. Tobisman, she has published two novels, Doubt and Proof, and a comic book series, Inside the Loop.

Harper Lee Prize logo

The Harper Lee Prize is awarded by the ABA Journal and the University of Alabama School of Law each year to a novel-length work of fiction that best that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change. Proof is the second book to feature young lawyer Caroline Auden, who is drawn into high-level local government intrigue when she looks into a potential elder abuse case involving her late grandmother. The two other nominees this year were Lisa Scottoline for her book Exposed and Scott Turow for Testimony.

Proof best captures the spirit of iconic characters, role of the legal profession in addressing social issues, and the concluding legal monologue of To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman,” said Dr. Hilary Green, an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama, and one of the four judges who selected the winning novel. “Caroline Auden is the perfect cross between lawyer Atticus Finch and the grown-up Scout.”

Jini Koh, an attorney and University of Alabama School of Law alum; Tony Mauro, U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for Law.com and the National Law Journal; and Dr. Sena Jeter Naslund, author, co-founder and former program director of the Spalding University MFA in Writing were the other judges. The results of a public poll, in which Exposed placed first and Proof placed second, were used as a fifth vote.

“It’s exciting see to this award go a practicing attorney who’s relatively new to the fiction scene,” says Molly McDonough, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal. “We also love seeing attention being drawn to the important field of elder law. We look forward to seeing what Cindy Tobisman will bring to the genre of legal fiction.”

The Harper Lee Prize will be presented to Tobisman in a ceremony Aug. 30 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to coincide with the National Book Festival. She will receive a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird signed by Harper Lee, who approved the creation of the award in 2010 to mark the 50th anniversary of her famous novel.

Past authors of Harper Lee Prize-winning books include John Grisham (in 2011 and 2014), Michael Connelly, Paul Goldstein, Deborah Johnson, Attica Locke and James Grippando.

See also:

Modern Law Library: “Scottoline, Tobisman and Turow discuss their 2018 Harper Lee Prize-nominated novels (podcast)”

The University of Alabama School of Law: “’Proof’ Wins 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction”

Corrected at 11:35 a.m. to state that Tobisman works in Los Angeles.

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