Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler July 19, 2016

Along with great lawyer movies the world has known are great lawyer novels, some of which became the basis for later film adaptations. As with great lawyer movies, the Journal of the American Bar Association has compiled a list of the 25 Greatest Law Novels (at least up through 2013, when the list was made by a panel of lawyers and scholars).

We will share with you the top 15 titles from that list, along with our own observations. Just remember: This isn’t an open-and-shut case, but only an opinion. You may have your own verdict.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), by Harper Lee. This classic legal drama involved an African American man unjustly accused of raping a white woman in the Depression-era South. Gregory Peck will forever be known for playing his heroic defense lawyer, Atticus Finch, in the 1962 film version. Courage in the face of bigotry may never be shown as vividly as it is in Lee’s great legal story.
  2. Crime and Punishment (1866), by Fyodor Dostoevsky. After a young Russian man coldly kills a pawnbroker, his indifference to his guilt turns into wrenching shame and moral anguish. He finds that injustice cannot be justified by social context, rationalizations or expedience.
  3. Bleak House (1852), by Charles Dickens. A long-running estate case sparked by conflicting wills takes cynical precedence over a murder case involving the same house in this story of greed and indifference to true justice. A classic Dickens satire, it attacks the English judicial system of the time with wry yet fierce truth.
  4. The Trial (1925), by Franz Kafka. This fatalistic tale concerned a bank assessor accused of a vague, unspecified crime and trapped by bureaucratic brittleness and faceless authority. Though it concerns a lengthy legal process, the book is driven more by philosophy than legalese.
  5. Les Miserables (1862), by Victor Hugo. This classic story of a peasant condemned to prison for taking a loaf of bread gave a scalding account of French society at the time and later became a renowned Broadway musical which was adapted to the big screen. Not just one of the great legal novels, but a great novel, period.
  6. Billy Budd (1924), by Herman Melville. The title character is a popular, stout sailor who runs afoul of his ship’s master-at-arms, whom he strikes after being accused of mutiny, inadvertently killing the man. Though well loved by the captain and crew, Billy faces the harsh truth that the rule of law must prevail in his trial at high sea.
  7. Presumed Innocent (1987), by Scott Turow. This legal thriller involves a prosecutor accused of killing a female colleague who also was his mistress. Entwining politics with justice, the story of a man framed for murder is a suspenseful masterpiece with a wrenching payoff at the end.
  8. The Scarlet Letter (1850), by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Set in mid-1600s in Puritanical Massachusetts, this classic novel concerns a woman disgraced by an adulterous affair when it’s learned that her presumed dead husband is still alive. Forced to wear a scarlet “A” for her crime, she suffers greatly in the era and the place of the hysterical Salem witch trials.
  9. The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987), by Tom Wolfe. A high-flying bond trader faces ruin when his mistress causes a hit-and-run crash in the Bronx, NY. Awash in 1980s culture, the novel is rife with characters marked by bald ambition, social-class strictures, racism and greed.
  10. An American Tragedy (1935), by Theodore Dreiser. A tale of stark fatalism, this lengthy, classic tragedy centers on a grasping young man of modest means who aspires to wealth and is accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend so he instead could romance a wealthy woman. Though innocent of the deed but not of the motive, he faces a death sentence in a rigorous trial.
  11. The Paper Chase (1971), by John Jay Osborn. Quickly made into a movie, this law school drama concerns a war of wills between a law student and his professor, Charles W. Kingsfield Jr. It also involved the Socratic method, a form of systematic arguing that leads to the elimination of hypotheses. Making his film debut at age 70, acting teacher John Houseman won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for the 1972 film.
  12. Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street (1853), by Herman Melville. Lawyers can relate to this short novel about a man who is hired by a lawyer to do paperwork as a clerk and winds up in prison after deciding not to work by proclaiming “I would prefer not to.” (A “scrivener” copies legal documents by hand.)
  13. Native Son (1940), by Richard Wright. This fact-based novel concerns Bigger Thomas, an impoverished African American man in Chicago in the 1930s for whom circumstances lead to a trial for double homicide. The story concerns a societal inevitability for Thomas’ crime and conviction.
  14. The Stranger (1942), by Albert Camus. (Also known as The Outsider.) Widely considered an absurdist yarn, this nonetheless involves a serious matter: a man on trial for murdering an Arab man in French Algeria. Its two parts provide the accused man’s first-person views, both before and after the murder.
  15. A Tale of Two Cities (1859), by Charles Dickens. Set in Paris and London around the time of the French Revolution, this massive novel concerned atrocities inflicted by French aristocrats on the peasantry before the revolution, and similarly atrocious retribution afterward. Its central character is lawyer Sydney Carton, who defends a man accused of treason named Charles Darnay. One of the best-selling novels in history.
FREE Case Review


Erick Becker
Erick Becker
01:20 06 May 17
I am a Patrol Deputy for the Sheriff Office and while working one night, a drunk driver crossed the center stripe on the highway and struck my patrol vehicle head on with his pick up truck. Needless to say we (the drunk driver and I) were both lucky to survive, as the accident occurred at highway speeds. Following my release from the hospital, I knew that I would need to have someone represent me. My employer was happy to represent me in regards to prosecuting the driver for criminal charges but, can do little in respect to the recovery of financial losses for medical bills, pain and discomfort, time lost from work etc... This is how my relationship with Jim Adler and Associates began. Yep, you probably guessed correctly when you think of what made me choose the "Texas Hammer" to represent me. Those half obnoxious, half way entertaining commercials and radio announcements most Texans have been seeing and hearing on the TV and radio for years instantly came to mind. Yes, I wanted to "hammer" this S.O.B. for trying to kill me but, more importantly I was worried about the costs associated with the life long injuries I had sustained as a result of this drunk driver's negligent behavior. I contacted Jim Adler and Associates and so began our relationship. I was immediately surprised by the prompt attention and the expression of genuine concern for my well being that I received from the employees of Jim Adler's office. Now as you can imagine, lawyers are not a breed that is held in very high regard by people in my profession but, my experiences with Jim Adler's office and his employees have forced me to amend my way of thinking, at least on the civil side of the house anyway. I have to chuckle when I say that because my experience as a client of Jim Adler's firm has been exceptionally pleasant. So before I venture down one of the stereotypical and infinite number of rabbit holes associated with the relationship between members of law enforcement and lawyers; I will do my best to stay focused on my experience with Jim Adler & Associates. Upon being informed that my case had been accepted by Jim Adler's office; I was contacted by Iris Sanchez who informed me that she was to be my case manager and any questions, comments and concerns could be directed to her. I was pleasantly surprised to receive regular calls from Iris assisting with my medical appointments and future follow up appointments. Iris had informed me that Jim Adler's son, Bill Adler would be handling my case and I was even more surprised to receive several calls from Bill to discuss my case. Now you might be thinking "what's the big deal" with the person who is representing you contacting you? In reality, you are correct in that it isn't a big deal but, what is noteworthy and what separates Jim Adler's Office from the multitude of other lawyers is the genuine expressions of concern and the desire Bill Adler conveyed to me to do their best to help me. I felt an immediate connection and instantly realized I had made the correct choice in contacting Jim Adler & Associates to handle my case. One thing I think lawyers and police officers can agree on is the proverbial wheels of justice turn very slowly. Months go by and our professional relationship is never neglected. Through the unwavering attention of Iris Sanchez and Bill Adler himself, I never felt "out of the loop" so to speak and always had a clear understanding of where my case was at in regards to the legal process. In conclusion, I know my brief description of my experiences with Bill Adler and, his assistant Iris Sanchez, cannot provide the credit they deserve. Together they have done an outstanding job representing their firm/employer. If you are seeking a great firm to represent your legal interests and, take comfort in establishing a professional relationship that feels more like a friendship than a casual business acquaintance, then I highly suggest Jim Adler & Associates.
Tierra Clark
Tierra Clark
18:52 19 May 17
My lawyer Bill Adler and case manager Iris Sanchez are amazing! They constantly call and check on you . They keep you up to date through the process. They care about you as a person and not just a client. The wreck was a life changing experience that I've never been through before. I'm just glad I had the right people like Bill Adler and Iris Sanchez to help me through it. Truly satisfied.Thanks and God bless y'all!
Lorenzo Preston
Lorenzo Preston
17:23 26 Jan 17
Jim Adler only offer nothing less than a great experience. They are a very well-established organization. They are outstanding on keeping you up to date with cases. There's no beating around the bush with this organization as they are only straight forward with the whole process. They treat their customers like family as well as go above and beyond to fight cases for you only leaving you with nothing but the best experience. Easy 5-star rated organization. I would highly recommend this one organization you not look over.
Tori Barroga
Tori Barroga
14:17 11 May 17
I was dropped from a previous law firm regarding my case before I called Jim Adler. They immediately took up my case and worked hard on it - I was always up to date with each step they took and the benefits or consequences of each. In the end, I am highly satisfied with the outcome and would not have it any other way. It took some time but I truly appreciate and want to thank everybody who helped me on this journey and worked tirelessly on it.
Bernard Orozco
Bernard Orozco
17:16 23 Feb 17
I am very happy with Jim Adler & Associates. I did not know anyone who has ever used the Law Firm before. The staff is very friendly and treated me as if I were family. At times it got very stressful being without a job. They helped me when I was confused about the process. Mrs. Theresa Rodriguez stayed in contact with me constantly. Checking on me to see how I was doing and to let me know how things were going on there end. The Attorneys that handled my case know exactly what they are doing to take good care of me. Thank You so much Attorney's Mr.Michael Gomez and Mr.Trey Smith.
See All Reviews
If you’ve been seriously injured, get The Tough, Smart Lawyer! ®
Get Help Right Now
Principal Office Houston, TX