Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

2017 Harper Lee Prize awarded to Boies Schiller lawyer's novel 'Gone Again'

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James Grippando

James Grippando

A Boies Schiller lawyer has won the seventh annual Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

James Grippando won the award for his book Gone Again, the 12th in the Jack Swyteck series, about the adventures of a Miami criminal defense attorney. The novel opens with Swyteck being approached to help stop the execution of a convicted murderer—by the mother of the purported victim, who believes her daughter may still be alive.

“I don’t know who’s happier, James Grippando the writer or James Grippando the lawyer,” he said. “Winning the 2017 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction is easily the proudest moment of my dual career.”

The Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction is awarded by the ABA Journal and the University of Alabama School of Law. Lee authorized creation to mark the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird’s publication in 1960. Since 2011, it has been granted to a novel published within the previous year that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.

Harper Lee Prize logo

Gone Again was one of three finalists for the prize. The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult were also nominated. Grippando, Moore and Picoult recently appeared in an episode of the Modern Law Library podcast to discuss their nominations.

A panel of four judges made the decision to award the prize to Gone Again: Deborah Johnson, winner of the 2015 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and author of The Secret of Magic; Cassandra King, author of The Same Sweet Girls’ Guide to Life; Don Noble, host of Alabama Public Radio‚Äôs book review series as well as host of Bookmark, which airs on Alabama Public Television; and Han Nolan, author of Dancing on the Edge.

“Grippando’s book does a masterful, entertaining job exploring the important topic of the death penalty and actual innocence,” said Molly McDonough, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal.

Grippando is the author of 25 books, and is counsel at Boies Schiller Flexner. He lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his wife, Tiffany, and his two children. The first Jack Swyteck novel, The Pardon, was published in 1994 after Grippando spent 12 years as a trial lawyer. The next installment in the Jack Swyteck series, Most Dangerous Place was published in February.

Grippando will receive his award Sept. 14 on the University of Alabama School of Law campus in Tuscaloosa. He will also receive a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird signed by Lee, who studied law at the school.


Updated on August 2 to reflect that Harper Lee studied law at the University of Alabama, but did not earn a degree.

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