About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Law Students and Integrity

The law students of The Rooster Bar by John Grisham made me feel uncomfortable. Having known and worked with recently graduated Canadian law students for decades, including both my sons, I was disturbed by the willingness of Mark, Todd and Zola to drop out of law school and be fake lawyers. There was a fundamental lack of integrity to their actions.

I appreciate the financial disaster facing them. Collectively they would owe $600,000 in student loans by the time they were to graduate from Foggy Bottom Law School.

At the same time they were willfully blind to the consequences when they went into law school. Every law student I know has assessed the risks and costs against the actual opportunities provided a law degree. It has long been known, especially in the United States, there are no guarantees of a well paid secure position after graduation.

Lawyer jokes to the contrary I consider integrity at the heart of the practice of law.

I was a member of the Law Society Committee that organized the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Law Society of Saskatchewan in 2007. As part of that celebration we thought about a word to represent our profession in Saskatchewan and chose “integrity”.

The students of my experience are much more like the law students in One L by Scott Turow than the students at Foggy Bottom.

I cannot see any of the law students I have known showing the lack of integrity of Mark, Todd and Zola.

On reflection I realized the students of Foggy Bottom are in a completely different system from the students I know.

The students at Foggy Bottom were ill prepared for law school and only realize after admission that the institution is focused on the $45,000 each pays in annual tuition. Professors know their task is to get them graduated. It is almost impossible to fail. Since no one cares about academic performance the students drift through law school and 50% will fail the bar exam.

The students I know excelled in university before they reached law school. They had to show they were superior students with quality LSAT scores. They were motivated to work hard at law school. Their professors challenged them. Their years in law school are illustrated by the reviews of One L written by my son, Michael, and myself that considered our real life experiences in law school in the 1970’s and the 2010’s.

America is often a land of excess. So it has become with law schools, especially for profit law schools, churning out grads unready to be lawyers.

The American Bar Association stated there were 37,400 students commencing law school in 2017. In Canada, with 1/10th of the population of America, there were approximately 2,500 students in first year law school.

Maybe readers should be glad Mark, Todd and Zola quit law school.
Grisham, John – (2000) - The Brethren; (2001) - A Painted House; (2002) - The Summons; (2003) - The King of Torts; (2004) - The Last Juror; (2005) - The Runaway Jury; (2005) - The Broker; (2008) - The Appeal; (2009) - The Associate; (2011) - The Confession; (2011) - The Litigators; (2012) - "G" is for John Grisham - Part I and Part II; (2013) - The Racketeer; (2013) - Grisham's Lawyers; (2013) - Analyzing Grisham's Lawyers; (2013) - Sycamore Row; (2014) - Gray Mountain and Gray Mountain and Real Life Legal Aid; (2015) - Rogue Lawyer and Sebastian Rudd; (2016) - The Whistler; (2017) - Camino Island; (2017) - The Rooster Bar; Probably hardcover


  1. What an interesting contrast, Bill, between the law students you've known, and those described in The Rooster Bar. One of the thoughts I had as I read your post is how important it is to truly prepare students for the career they've chosen. That includes challenging them, and not allowing them to drift through. That may not be the most lucrative approach for a university, in the short term at any rate. But in the long run it serves no-one if students aren't held to standards of academic work, integrity, and so on.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I am sure you seek to challenge your students and I am equally sure you appreciate the need for integrity at university.

  2. Integrity is such an important requirement for good lawyers. Many have it. Some don't. When a case is mismanaged or done in a sloppy way, the client suffers and often it means a very long sentence or worse in the U.S.

    I believe that since John Grisham does present social issues in his books, that he was raising the scandal of student debt in this book. He aims to raise issues in an entertaining way.

    I haven't read this book by him, but friends liked it.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. Student debt can be a scandal. I have found it hard to understand the costs of American universities. It seems there is an ever expanding list of issues about America that I struggle to understand.