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50 Best Legal Novels for Both Lawyers and Laymen

by Staff Writers

Crime, rights, and the law all take center stage in these novels that are both thrilling and educational. Whether you’re a lawyer or a layman, you will surely be entertained by these novels. Read on to find 50 of the best legal novels out there.

Classics & Bestsellers

These are legal novels that just about everyone’s heard of or read.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird: To Kill A Mockingbird explores the implications of the cases you take on.
     
  2. Compelling Evidence: This crime novel follows Paul Madriani as his former lover is arrested for murdering her husband.
     
  3. The Firm: In this incredibly popular book, you’ll see that hotshot firms aren’t always what you think.
     
  4. Eyes of a Child: See an ugly custody battle gone wrong in Eyes of a Child.
     
  5. A Time to Kill: Inspired by life experiences and To Kill a Mockingbird, John Grisham’s novel considers what would happen if a victim’s father murdered her assailants.
     

In Court

See the law in action in these novels that focus on trials and the court.

  1. Gideon’s Trumpet: Read this book to examine the real life case of James Earl Gideon’s fight to have legal counsel.
     
  2. Primal Fear: Martin Vail is faced with an impossible murder case.
     
  3. Reversal of Fortune: In this novel, you’ll find learning for criminal lawyers and entertainment for laymen.
     
  4. The Trials of Nikki Hill: Written by OJ Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden, this deputy DA takes on a high profile case.
     
  5. The Seven Minutes: Irving Wallace’s novel takes on a trial of pornography and freedom of speech.
     
  6. Retribution: Jilliane Hoffman tackles this serial killer courtroom thriller.
     
  7. Presumed Innocent: Rusty Sabich is a prosecutor charged with murdering his colleague in Presumed Innocent.
     

Suspense

You’ll be reading these novels on the edge of your seat.

  1. The Testament: John Grisham’s novel The Testament offers legal suspense and adventure.
     
  2. Gone, But Not Forgotten: This defense lawyer has to find out who the real killer is and clear her client’s name.
     
  3. Treason: Don Brown explores Navy justice in this JAG novel.
     
  4. Hostage: This second installment of Don Brown’s series takes a look at the danger involved with Navy justice.
     
  5. Defiance: Continuing Don Brown’s Navy Justice series, Defiance focuses on finding a famous missing JAG officer.
     
  6. Involuntary Witness: This suspense novel written by an anti-Mafia judge in Italy attacks racism and the judicial process.
     
  7. A Man in Full: Read this novel to explore race in law and beyond.
     
  8. The Loch: Steve Alten’s novel shares a scientist turned lawyer in his experiences with Loch Ness.
     

History

These novels are based on or inspired by history and real life events.

  1. Naming Names: Naming Names offers a dissection of the Hollywood blacklist.
     
  2. The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction: In this novel, a historian examines the story of Irish Catholic orphans.
     
  3. Arc of Justice: Arc of Justice shares insight into race, civil rights, and murder on trail in 1925 Detroit.
     
  4. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: This book shares the stories of genocide in Rwanda.
     
  5. Storming the Court: In this novel, a group of Yale Law students took on the Supreme Court.
     
  6. Justice Older than the Law: Study the life and legal wins of Dovey Johnson Roundtree in Justice Older than the Law.
     
  7. In Cold Blood: Truman Capote writes the true account of a multiple murder.
     
  8. The Rescue Artist: The Rescue Artist is based on the famous theft of "The Scream," taking a look at the history of art theft.
     
  9. Blind Eye: Blind Eye tells the true story of a murdering physician.
     
  10. Local People: You can better understand the struggle for civil rights in Mississippi with the help of this novel.
     
  11. Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer: Become immersed in the hunt for Lincoln’s killer in this novel.
     
  12. Exile: Exile takes a legal approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     

Thrillers

Get your heart pumping reading these exciting legal novels.

  1. The Appeal: See what happens when a CEO appeals a case against his company.
     
  2. Six Hours Past Thursday: Steve Draves is an outwardly solid citizen with a secret con man life.
     
  3. Show of Evil: This DA takes on a serial killer.
     
  4. Homicide: You’ll go inside Baltimore’s homicide unit in this book.
     
  5. Reign in Hell: Martin Vail goes up against a survivalist militia as a US attorney.
     
  6. Criminal Conversation: Follow the danger and adventure of District Attorney Michael Welles in this novel about organized crime.
     
  7. The Law Clerk: The Law Clerk is interesting for anyone who has devoted their lives to the law.
     
  8. The Client: Set in the south, The Client offers a good mix of legal elements and suspense.
     
  9. The Associate: Videotapes, blackmail, and surveillance prevail while an associate tries to keep his position at the largest law firm in the world.
     

Injustice

These novels all have a common theme-injustice and making things right.

  1. The Trial: A Young man is arrested and killed for apparently no reason, and this novel explores the trial that follows.
     
  2. Conflict of Interest: Robert Kerrick’s career and life are threatened when as he finds justice for his clients.
     

Movies

These legal novels were so popular, they became movies.

  1. The Runaway Jury: Explore a tobacco death case just before jury selection in The Runaway Jury.
     
  2. The Chamber: The Chamber takes you inside the death row of Mississippi State Penitentiary.
     
  3. Red Dust: Red Dust is written about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in fictional Smitsriver, South Africa.
     
  4. The Rainmaker: The little guys take on a powerful law firm in this novel.
     
  5. The Burden of Proof: This family is caught in an emotionally shattering situation.
     
  6. Anatomy of a Murder: This novel is an incredibly popular courtroom drama.
     
  7. A Civil Action: A Civil Action discusses a real-life water contamination case in Massachusetts.