Prather’s Pick: A book for lawyers |

Prather’s Pick: A book for lawyers

Diane Prather

This week’s book would make a great gift for a lawyer! I found it while browsing through the Christmas books in the children’s room at the Moffat County Library — not that it’s the place you would ordinarily find books for lawyers. “Lawyer’s Week Before Christmas” is a picture book with a story and illustrations on each page. The illustrations help tell the story and add depth to the story, too. Picture books are usually intended for kids.

This book is a spoof, written by a man who knows plenty about lawyers. According to the short biography about author Joseph Justice, he has a trial practice related to the protection of abused and neglected children. He has served as a deputy insurance commissioner, administrative law judge, general counsel to a number of insurance companies and a college business law instructor. Justice was named the 2005 Special Assistant Attorney General of the Year by the Georgia Child Placement Conference.

The book was illustrated by Salima Alikhan, who also illustrated “Rocky Mountain Night Before Christmas” and wrote and illustrated “The Pied Piper of Austin.”

The book’s story follows the familiar rhyming pattern of “The Night Before Christmas.”

“’Twas a week before yuletide and things were asunder. Within the law office of Bluff, Bluster and Blunder.”

As the plot unfolds, the three lawyers are busy with fiscal filings, tax implications, stock complications and defending a thief. Sally, the receptionist, answers a call this cold, wintry night. It’s from Polly Brown, a woman who tripped on a toy at a well-known chain store. She still has some lower back pain, but the store has ignored her requests. The problem is that the accident happened two years ago, and her time to file will expire on Christmas Eve night.

My goodness, but it puts the law office in a tizzy. A meeting is called. The lawyers are there. So are the file clerks and all of the paralegals. Bluster, a lawyer with a handlebar mustache and a reputation for having cold-hearted instincts and a trial lawyer’s wit, is assigned the task of contacting Polly. He warns her not to be late for the appointment.

When Polly arrives, the three lawyers bring her coffee and doughnuts and crutches and a neck brace, too. Polly never realized she had so many problems. She reads through the lawyers’ terms from a paper that seems as long as a child’s Christmas list to Santa. Polly signs the agreement, and then the work begins. There are meetings with detectives, physicians, physical therapists and chiropractors. There are affidavits and motions, and poor Polly even ends up in traction. Will the complaint get filed on time?

This is a humorous book, and the message depends on how the reader looks at it. I think kids will enjoy the rhyming pattern and illustrations, but I’m not sure if they will understand words such as “tortfeasor,” “lien,” “deposition” and “discovery.” They may not “get” what the author is satirizing, either. But I think this is a fun book for a lawyer.

“Lawyer’s Week Before Christmas” is published by Pelican Publishing Company (2010). The hardcover book I read costs $16.99.

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