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Summer Beach Reads for Lawyers

By Donna Mallard | Jul. 2, 2015

Law Office Management

Jul. 2, 2015

Summer Beach Reads for Lawyers

We asked two local bookstores for their summer picks.

With this year's perpetual sunshine now finally justified by the calendar, California Lawyer contacted bookstores and checked our shelves for summer vacation reading for lawyers. Here are some recommendations.

Suggestions from Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena:

The Jezebel Remedy
by Martin Clark
Knopf Doubleday, 402 pages, $27.95, e-book available

The protagonists - small-town, married law partners Lisa and Joe Stone - probe why their client Lettie VanSandt (described in reviews as cantankerous, eccentric, and certifiable) has died in a fire in her trailer. An explosion and other circumstances lead to the assumption that she was cooking meth, but the outline of a corporate conspiracy takes shape as the couple tries to settle VanSandt's estate, and a conflict emerges that threatens both their marriage and their practice. The novel is well paced, with the funny/painful humor that people married for decades typically share. Earlier novels from Clark, a Virginia circuit court judge, have been chosen as a New York Times "notable book" and won praise from the Washington Post, Bookmarks magazine, and others.

Forty Acres
by Dwayne Alexander Smith
Atria Books, 384 pages, $25, e-book available

In a thriller critics have compared with John Grisham's The Firm, a successful young black attorney named Martin Grey is invited to a male-only retreat of the wealthy African-American elite (no wives, no cell phones, no business talk). Far from his storefront office in Queens, Grey is dazzled by his hosts, but he soon discovers the group is a secret society. He has landed in an ethical quagmire, complete with a shocking and sinister twist on slavery. How can Grey escape becoming a part of his colleagues' new moral order? Can he turn his back on the potential riches involved? His dilemma comes down to life and death. Forty Acres won the NAACP's 2014 award for outstanding literary work from a debut author.

Suggestions from Books Inc., San Francisco:

Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice
by Adam Benforado
Crown Publishing Group, 400 pages, $26, e-book available

An associate law professor at Drexel, Adam Benforado marshals voluminous research on psychology and the brain - along with concrete examples from real cases - to explain the dysfunctions of the criminal justice system and bolster his suggestions for reform. Rather than focus on individual culprits or straightforward racism, reviewers note that Benforado sees the roots of the criminal justice system's racial imbalance in all of us. Prepare to be outraged.

The Millionaire and the Bard:
Henry Folger's Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare's First Folio

by Andrea Mays
Simon & Schuster, 368 pages, $27, e-book available

Andrea Mays, a lecturer in economics at Cal State Long Beach, recounts Henry Folger's rise from modest origins to the chairmanship of Standard Oil of New York, and his obsessive quest to collect copies of Shakespeare's First Folio, the first edition of the playwright's complete works. A detective story for the book-obsessed, this narrative of how Folger and his wife, Emily, collected what became the Folger Shakespeare Library reads like a thriller, with suspense, defeats, and triumphs.

California Lawyer pick:

The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg edited by Scott Dodson
Cambridge University Press, 326 pages, $29.99, e-book available

Edited by a UC Hastings law professor, this new collection includes a variety of pieces that serve to outline Ginsburg's life and legal legacy. On the scholarly side are luminaries including Berkeley Law's Herma Hill Kay and Harvard's Lani Guinier, who dissect the Supreme Court justice's influence on issues as varied as race discrimination in public schools and the scope of congressional power.

More personal pieces in the collection cover the justice's extraordinary marriage, her early interest in (and experience of) gender discrimination, her tenure at the ACLU, and her career as a law professor. Some of the essays straddle the professional and personal, such as one from SCOTUSblog's Tom Goldstein on Ginsburg's style during oral argument. Also in the mix: prominent legal affairs journalists Nina Totenberg of NPR and Dahlia Lithwick of Slate. Though some anecdotes about Ginsburg's life are repeated, at 326 pages this volume is full of variety - and just the right length for a week's vacation.


Donna Mallard

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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