Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

Help select the winner of the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

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Poll: Which book should win the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction?
Harper Lee Prize logo
  • 71.98%
    "Exposed" by Lisa Scottoline
  • 11.61%
    "Testimony" by Scott Turrow
  • 16.42%
    "Proof" by C. E. Tobisman

The finalists for the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction have been announced, and now readers will have a chance to weigh in.

The books nominated for the eighth annual award are Exposed, by Lisa Scottoline; Proof, by C. E. Tobisman; and Testimony, by Scott Turow.

The prize, which was authorized by the late Harper Lee, was established in 2011 by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. It is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.

“The winnowing committee has chosen three great novels that you can add to your summer reading list, all written by lawyers and with timely topics,” says Molly McDonough, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal.

“This year’s grouping includes drama and intrigue surrounding international justice, elder law, legal ethics and protections for people with disabilities. As legal journalists we see the essential role of lawyers in the real world and think now, more than ever, it’s important to have genuine and inspiring depictions of their work in pop culture.”

A four-person panel will vote on which novel should take the prize, with the result of the public poll counting as a fifth vote. The poll will remain open through June 30. The panelists this year are Dr. Hilary Green, assistant professor of history in the Department of Gender and Race Studies at the University of Alabama; Jini Koh, attorney and University of Alabama School of Law graduate; Tony Mauro, U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for Law.com and the National Law Journal; and Sena Jeter Naslund, author, co-founder and former program director of the Spalding University MFA in Writing.

The Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction will be awarded at an August ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the National Book Festival. The winner will receive a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird signed by Harper Lee. The authors whose books have previously won the prize are John Grisham (in 2011 and 2014), Michael Connelly, Paul Goldstein, Deborah Johnson, Attica Locke and James Grippando.

The Finalists


Exposed, by Lisa Scottoline: “Mary DiNunzio wants to represent her old friend Simon Pensiera, a sales rep who was wrongly fired by his company, but her partner Bennie Rosato represents the parent company. When she confronts Mary, explaining this is a conflict of interest, an epic battle of wills and legal strategy between the two ensues—ripping the law firm apart, forcing everyone to take sides and turning friend against friend.”(Text from the publisher.)

Proof cover

Proof, by C. E. Tobisman: “Still haunted by the betrayal that forced her to leave a prestigious law firm, Caroline Auden struggles to keep her fledgling practice afloat—and her paranoia in check. When her grandmother dies, she mourns losing the only constant in her life. But grief soon turns to suspicion when she discovers her grandmother left her entire estate—including a valuable antique watch, the family’s sole heirloom—to a charity called Oasis Care. On the surface, Oasis helps society’s outcasts, like Caroline’s alcoholic, homeless uncle. But as she digs deeper, Caroline uncovers a sinister plot that sends her running for her life on the dangerous streets of Los Angeles. Plunged into a world of addicts and broken souls and operating without a phone or a computer, Caroline finds sanctuary with her uncle and a ragtag group of outcasts while building evidence for her case. As she sifts through the shadowy world of the Goliath nonprofit, Caroline is also forced to confront her own dark shadows, casting doubt on her ability—and her sanity.”(Text from the publisher.)

Testimony cover

Testimony, by Scott Turow: “At the age of 50, former prosecutor Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his law career, his wife, Kindle County, even his country. Still, when he is tapped by the International Criminal Court–an organization charged with prosecuting crimes against humanity–he feels drawn to what will become the most elusive case of his career. Over 10 years ago, in the apocalyptic chaos following the Bosnian war, an entire Roma refugee camp vanished. Now for the first time, a witness has stepped forward: Ferko Rincic claims that armed men marched the camp’s Gypsy residents to a cave in the middle of the night–and then with a hand grenade set off an avalanche, burying 400 people alive. Only Ferko survived. Boom’s task is to examine Ferko’s claims and determine who might have massacred the Roma. His investigation takes him from the International Criminal Court’s base in Holland to the cities and villages of Bosnia and secret meetings in Washington, D.C., as Boom sorts through a host of suspects, ranging from Serb paramilitaries, to organized crime gangs, to the US government itself, while also maneuvering among the alliances and treacheries of those connected to the case.”(Text from the publisher.)

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