The ABA Wants Your Help Picking the Best Legal Fiction

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on May 17, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you like the law and you love literature, the American Bar Association wants to hear from you. The ABA and the University of Alabama School of Law announced the finalists for the 2016 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction last week. The Harper Lee Prize (which the late author of "To Kill a Mockingbird" has given her stamp of approval) is given every year to the best legal fiction that "illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change."

There are three finalists, and now the ABA is asking lawyers who they think should get the gold. Let's take a look at these standouts.

1. "Allegiance," by Kermit Roosevelt

Roosevelt's "Allegiance" is a Supreme Court thriller surrounding the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. After the attack on Pearl Harbor Caswell 'Cash' Harrison set out to join the army -- and was rejected. He ended up clerking for Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black instead, where he uncovers a conspiracy target at the Court, embarking on an investigation that takes him everywhere from J. Edgar Hoover's office to California internment camps.

2. "Tom & Lucky (and George & Cokey Flo)," by C. Joseph Graves

A work of historical fiction, "Tom & Lucky" is based on "a trove of newly discovered documents," which tell the tale of Lucky Luciano, one of America's most powerful mobsters, and his prosecution by Tom Dewey. George and Cokey Flo come in as defense attorney and witness, respectively, in a book that tracks each of their lives "each on its own incandescent trajectory," as they "intersect in a New York courtroom, introducing America to the violent and darkly glamorous world of organized crime and leaving our culture, laws, and politics forever change."

3. "Pleasantville," by Attica Locke

With a name like Attica, Ms. Locke seems like shoe in for the Harper Lee Prize. Locke, who has also written and produced for FOX's "Empire," has penned a legal thriller focused on Jay Porter, the environmental lawyer slash legal hero from "Black Water Rising," one of her earlier works. Once a legal star, Porter is now broke, burnt out, and ready to leave the law -- until, of course, a young woman mysteriously disappears during a Houston election, drawing Porter into a world of politics and betrayal.

Have a favorite? Once you read the nominated works, you can weigh in on your favorite here, though the final decision will be made by the ABA's panel of judges.

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