The Firm

The Firm

by John Grisham

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For a young lawyer on the make, it was an offer he couldn't refuse: a position at a law firm where the bucks, billable hours, and benefits are over the top. It's a dream job for an up-and-comer—if he can overlook the uneasy feeling he gets at the office. Then an FBI investigation plunges the straight and narrow attorney into a nightmare of terror and intrigue, with no choice but to pit his wits, ethics, and legal skills against the firm's deadly secrets—if he hopes to stay alive . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440245926
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/25/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 33,726
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.54(h) x 1.36(d)

About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby—writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham's hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career—and spark one of publishing's greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, and The Appeal) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction.

Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, VA.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books' protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500—the biggest verdict of his career.

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.


Oxford, Mississippi, and Albemarle County, Virginia

Date of Birth:

February 8, 1955

Place of Birth:

Jonesboro, Arkansas


B.S., Mississippi State, 1977; J.D., University of Mississippi, 1981

Read an Excerpt


THE SENIOR PARTNER studied the résumé for the hundredth time and again found nothing he disliked about Mitchell Y. McDeere, at least not on paper. He had the brains, the ambition, the good looks. And he was hungry; with his background, he had to be. He was married, and that was mandatory. The firm had never hired an unmarried lawyer, and it frowned heavily on divorce, as well as womanizing and drinking. Drug testing was in the contract. He had a degree in accounting, passed the CPA exam the first time he took it and wanted to be a tax lawyer, which of course was a requirement with a tax firm. He was white, and the firm had never hired a black. They managed this by being secretive and clubbish and never soliciting job applications. Other firms solicited, and hired blacks. This firm recruited, and remained lily white. Plus, the firm was in Memphis, of all places, and the top blacks wanted New York or Washington or Chicago. McDeere was a male, and there were no women in the firm. That mistake had b een made in the mid-seventies when they recruited the number one grad from Harvard, who happened to be a she and a wizard at taxation. She lasted four turbulent years and was killed in a car wreck.

He looked good, on paper. He was their top choice. In fact, for this year there were no other prospects. The list was very short. It was McDeere or no one.

The managing partner, Royce McKnight, studied a dossier labeled "Mitchell Y. McDeere—Harvard." An inch thick with small print and a few photographs, it had been prepared by some ex-CIA agents in a private intelligence outfit in Bethesda. They were clients of the firm and each year did the investigating for no fee. It was easy work, they said, checking out unsuspecting law students. They learned, for instance, that he preferred to leave the Northeast, that he was holding three job offers, two in New York and one in Chicago, and that the highest offer was $76,000 and the lowest was $68,000. He was in demand. He had been given the opportunity to cheat on a securities exam during his second year. He declined, and made the highest grade in the class. Two months ago he had been offered cocaine at a law school party. He said no and left when everyone began snorting. He drank an occasional beer, but drinking was expensive and he had no money. He owed close to $23,000 in student loans. He was hungry.

Royce McKnight flipped through the dossier and smiled. McDeere was their man.

Lamar Quin was thirty-two and not yet a partner. He had been brought along to look young and act young and project a youthful image for Bendini, Lambert & Locke, which in fact was a young firm, since most of the partners retired in their late forties or early fifties with money to burn. He would make partner in this firm. With a six-figure income guaranteed for the rest of his life, Lamar could enjoy the twelve-hundred-dollar tailored suits that hung so comfortably from his tall, athletic frame. He strolled nonchalantly across the thousand-dollar-a-day suite and poured another cup of decaf. He checked his watch. He glanced at the two partners sitting at the small conference table near the windows.

Precisely at two-thirty someone knocked on the door. Lamar looked at the partners, who slid the résumé and dossier into an open briefcase. All three reached for their jackets. Lamar buttoned his top button and opened the door.

"Mitchell McDeere?" he asked with a huge smile and a hand thrust forward.

"Yes." They shook hands violently.

"Nice to meet you, Mitchell. I'm Lamar Quin."

"My pleasure. Please call me Mitch." He stepped inside and quickly surveyed the spacious room.

"Sure, Mitch." Lamar grabbed his shoulder and led him across the suite, where the partners introduced themselves. They were exceedingly warm and cordial. They offered him coffee, then water. They sat around a shiny mahogany conference table and exchanged pleasantries. McDeere unbuttoned his coat and crossed his legs. He was now a seasoned veteran in the search of employment, and he knew they wanted him. He relaxed. With three job offers from three of the most prestigious firms in the country, he did not need this interview, this firm. He could afford to be a little overconfident now. He was there out of curiosity. And he longed for warmer weather.

Oliver Lambert, the senior partner, leaned forward on his elbows and took control of the preliminary chitchat. He was glib and engaging with a mellow, almost professional baritone. At sixty-one, he was the grandfather of the firm and spent most of his time administering and balancing the enormous egos of some of the richest lawyers in the country. He was the counselor, the one the younger associates went to with their troubles. Mr. Lambert also handled the recruiting, and it was his mission to sign Mitchell Y. McDeere.

"Are you tired of interviewing?" asked Oliver Lambert.

"Not really. It's part of it."

Yes, yes, they all agreed. Seemed like yesterday they were interviewing and submitting résumés and scared to death they wouldn't find a job and three years of sweat and torture would be down the drain. They knew what he was going through, all right.

"May I ask a question?" Mitch asked.




"Why are we interviewing in this hotel room? The other firms interview on campus through the placement office."

"Good question." They all nodded and looked at each other and agreed it was a good question.

"Perhaps I can answer that, Mitch," said Royce McKnight, the managing partner. "You must understand our firm. We are different, and we take pride in that. We have forty-one lawyers, so we are small compared with other firms. We don't hire too many people; about one every other year. We offer the highest salary and fringes in the country, and I'm not exaggerating. So we are very selective. We selected you. The letter you received last month was sent after we screened over two thousand third-year law students at the best schools. Only one letter was sent. We don't advertise openings and we don't solicit applications. We keep a low profile, and we do things differently. That's our explanation."

"Fair enough. What kind of firm is it?"

"Tax. Some securities, real estate and banking, but eighty percent is tax work. That's why we wanted to meet you, Mitch. You have an incredibly strong tax background."

"Why'd you go to Western Kentucky?" asked Oliver Lambert.

"Simple. They offered me a full scholarship to play football. Had it not been for that, college would've been impossible."

"Tell us about your family."

"Why is that important?"

"It's very important to us, Mitch," Royce McKnight said warmly.

They all say that, thought McDeere. "Okay, my father was killed in the coal mines when I was seven years old. My mother remarried and lives in Florida. I had two brothers. Rusty was killed in Vietnam. I have a brother named Ray McDeere."

"Where is he?"

"I'm afraid that's none of your business." He stared at Royce McKnight and exposed a mammoth chip on his shoulder. The dossier said little about Ray.

"I'm sorry," the managing partner said softly.

"Mitch, our firm is in Memphis," Lamar said. "Does that bother you?"

"Not at all. I'm not fond of cold weather."

"Have you ever been to Memphis?"


"We'll have you down soon. You'll love it."

Mitch smiled and nodded and played along. Were these guys serious? How could he consider such a small firm in such a small town when Wall Street was waiting?

"How are you ranked in your class?" Mr. Lambert asked.

"Top five." Not top five percent, but top five. That was enough of an answer for all of them. Top five out of three hundred. He could have said number three, a fraction away from number two, and within striking distance of number one. But he didn't. They came from inferior schools—Chicago, Columbia and Vanderbilt, as he recalled from a cursory examination of Martindale-Hubbell's Legal Directory. He knew they would not dwell on academics.

"Why did you select Harvard?"

"Actually, Harvard selected me. I applied at several schools and was accepted everywhere. Harvard offered more financial assistance. I thought it was the best school. Still do."

"You've done quite well here, Mitch," Mr. Lambert said, admiring the résumé. The dossier was in the briefcase, under the table.

"Thank you. I've worked hard."

"You made extremely high grades in your tax and securities courses."

"That's where my interest lies."

"We've reviewed your writing sample, and it's quite impressive."

"Thank you. I enjoy research."

They nodded and acknowledged this obvious lie. It was part of the ritual. No law student or lawyer in his right mind enjoyed research, yet, without fail, every prospective associate professed a deep love for the library.

"Tell us about your wife," Royce McKnight said, almost meekly. They braced for another reprimand. But it was a standard, nonsacred area explored by every firm.

"Her name is Abby. She has a degree in elementary education from Western Kentucky. We graduated one week and got married the next. For the past three years she's taught at a private kindergarten near Boston College."

"And is the marriage—"

"We're very happy. We've known each other since high school."

"What position did you play?" asked Lamar, in the direction of less sensitive matters.

"Quarterback. I was heavily recruited until I messed up a knee in my last high school game. Everyone disappeared except Western Kentucky. I played off and on for four years, even started some as a junior, but the knee would never hold up."

"How'd you make straight A's and play football?"

"I put the books first."

"I don't imagine Western Kentucky is much of an academic school," Lamar blurted with a stupid grin, and immediately wished he could take it back. Lambert and McKnight frowned and acknowledged the mistake.

"Sort of like Kansas State," Mitch replied. They froze, all of them froze, and for a few seconds stared incredulously at each other. This guy McDeere knew Lamar Quin went to Kansas State. He had never met Lamar Quin and had no idea who would appear on behalf of the firm and conduct the interview. Yet, he knew. He had gone to Martindale-Hubbell's and checked them out. He had read the biographical sketches of all of the forty-one lawyers in the firm, and in a split second he had recalled that Lamar Quin, just one of the forty-one, had gone to Kansas State. Damn, they were impressed.

"I guess that came out wrong," Lamar apologized.

"No problem." Mitch smiled warmly. It was forgotten.

Oliver Lambert cleared his throat and decided to get personal again. "Mitch, our firm frowns on drinking and chasing women. We're not a bunch of Holy Rollers, but we put business ahead of everything. We keep low profiles and we work very hard. And we make plenty of money."

"I can live with all that."

"We reserve the right to test any member of the firm for drug use."

"I don't use drugs."

"Good. What's your religious affiliation?"


"Good. You'll find a wide variety in our firm. Catholics, Baptists, Episcopalians. It's really none of our business, but we like to know. We want stable families. Happy lawyers are productive lawyers. That's why we ask these questions."

Mitch smiled and nodded. He'd heard this before.

The three looked at each other, then at Mitch. This meant they had reached the point in the interview where the interviewee was supposed to ask one or two intelligent questions. Mitch recrossed his legs. Money, that was the big question, particularly how it compared to his other offers. If it isn't enough, thought Mitch, then it was nice to meet you fellas. If the pay is attractive, then we can discuss families and marriages and football and churches. But, he knew, like all the other firms they had to shadowbox around the issue until things got awkward and it was apparent they had discussed everything in the world but money. So, hit them with a soft question first.

"What type of work will I do initially?"

They nodded and approved of the question. Lambert and McKnight looked at Lamar. This answer was his.

"We have something similar to a two-year apprenticeship, although we don't call it that. We'll send you all over the country to tax seminars. Your education is far from over. You'll spend two weeks next winter in Washington at the American Tax Institute. We take great pride in our technical expertise, and the training is continual, for all of us. If you want to pursue a master's in taxation, we'll pay for it. As far as practicing law, it won't be very exciting for the first two years. You'll do a lot of research and generally boring stuff. But you'll be paid handsomely."

"How much?"

Lamar looked at Royce McKnight, who eyed Mitch and said, "We'll discuss the compensation and other benefits when you come to Memphis."

"I want a ballpark figure or I may not come to Memphis." He smiled, arrogant but cordial. He spoke like a man with three job offers.

The partners smiled at each other, and Mr. Lambert spoke first. "Okay. A base salary of eighty thousand the first year, plus bonuses. Eighty-five the second year, plus bonuses. A low-interest mortgage so you can buy a home. Two country club memberships. And a new BMW. You pick the color, of course."

They focused on his lips, and waited for the wrinkles to form on his cheeks and the teeth to break through. He tried to conceal a smile, but it was impossible. He chuckled.

"That's incredible," he mumbled. Eighty thousand in Memphis equaled a hundred and twenty thousand in New York. Did the man say BMW! His Mazda hatchback had a million miles on it and for the moment had to be jump-started while he saved for a rebuilt starter.

"Plus a few more fringes we'll be glad to discuss in Memphis."

Suddenly he had a strong desire to visit Memphis. Wasn't it by the river?

The smile vanished and he regained his composure. He looked sternly, importantly at Oliver Lambert and said, as if he'd forgotten about the money and the home and the BMW, "Tell me about your firm."

"Forty-one lawyers. Last year we earned more per lawyer than any firm our size or larger. That includes every big firm in the country. We take only rich clients—corporations, banks and wealthy people who pay our healthy fees and never complain. We've developed a specialty in international taxation, and it's both exciting and very profitable. We deal only with people who can pay."

"How long does it take to make partner?"

"On the average, ten years, and it's a hard ten years. It's not unusual for our partners to earn half a million a year, and most retire before they're fifty. You've got to pay your dues, put in eighty-hour weeks, but it's worth it when you make partner."

Lamar leaned forward. "You don't have to be a partner to earn six figures. I've been with the firm seven years, and went over a hundred thousand four years ago."

Mitch thought about this for a second and figured by the time he was thirty he could be well over a hundred thousand, maybe close to two hundred thousand. At the age of thirty!

They watched him carefully and knew exactly what he was calculating.

"What's an international tax firm doing in Memphis?" he asked.

That brought smiles. Mr. Lambert removed his reading glasses and twirled them. "Now that's a good question. Mr. Bendini founded the firm in 1944. He had been a tax lawyer in Philadelphia and had picked up some wealthy clients in the South. He got a wild hair and landed in Memphis. For twenty-five years he hired nothing but tax lawyers, and the firm prospered nicely down there. None of us are from Memphis, but we have grown to love it. It's a very pleasant old Southern town. By the way, Mr. Bendini died in 1970."

"How many partners in the firm?"

"Twenty, active. We try to keep a ratio of one partner for each associate. That's high for the industry, but we like it. Again, we do things differently."

"All of our partners are multimillionaires by the age of forty-five," Royce McKnight said.

"All of them?"

"Yes, sir. We don't guarantee it, but if you join our firm, put in ten hard years, make partner and put in ten more years, and you're not a millionaire at the age of forty-five, you'll be the first in twenty years."

"That's an impressive statistic."

"It's an impressive firm, Mitch," Oliver Lambert said, "and we're very proud of it. We're a close-knit fraternity. We're small and we take care of each other. We don't have the cutthroat competition the big firms are famous for. We're very careful whom we hire, and our goal is for each new associate to become a partner as soon as possible. Toward that end we invest an enormous amount of time and money in ourselves, especially our new people. It is a rare, extremely rare occasion when a lawyer leaves our firm. It is simply unheard of. We go the extra mile to keep careers on track. We want our people happy. We think it is the most profitable way to operate."

"I have another impressive statistic," Mr. McKnight added. "Last year, for firms our size or larger, the average turnover rate among associates was twenty-eight percent. At Bendini, Lambert & Locke, it was zero. Year before, zero. It's been a long time since a lawyer left our firm."

They watched him carefully to make sure all of this sank in. Each term and each condition of the employment was important, but the permanence, the finality of his acceptance overshadowed all other items on the checklist. They explained as best they could, for now. Further explanation would come later.

Of course, they knew much more than they could talk about. For instance, his mother lived in a cheap trailer park in Panama City Beach, remarried to a retired truck driver with a violent drinking problem. They knew she had received $41,000 from the mine explosion, squandered most of it, then went crazy after her oldest son was killed in Vietnam. They knew he had been neglected, raised in poverty by his brother Ray (whom they could not find) and some sympathetic relatives. The poverty hurt, and they assumed, correctly, it had bred the intense desire to succeed. He had worked thirty hours a week at an all-night convenience store while playing football and making perfect grades. They knew he seldom slept. They knew he was hungry. He was their man.

"Would you like to come visit us?" asked Oliver Lambert.

"When?" asked Mitch, dreaming of a black 318i with a sunroof.

The ancient Mazda hatchback with three hubcaps and a badly cracked windshield hung in the gutter with its front wheels sideways, aiming at the curb, preventing a roll down the hill. Abby grabbed the door handle on the inside, yanked twice and opened the door. She inserted the key, pressed the clutch and turned the wheel. The Mazda began a slow roll. As it gained speed, she held her breath, released the clutch and bit her lip until the unmuffled rotary engine began whining.

With three job offers on the table, a new car was four months away. She could last. For three years they had endured poverty in a two-room student apartment on a campus covered with Porsches and little Mercedes convertibles. For the most part they had ignored the snubs from the classmates and coworkers in this bastion of East Coast snobbery. They were hillbillies from Kentucky, with few friends. But they had endured and succeeded quite nicely all to themselves.

She preferred Chicago to New York, even for a lower salary, largely because it was farther from Boston and closer to Kentucky. But Mitch remained noncommittal, characteristically weighing it all carefully and keeping most of it to himself. She had not been invited to visit New York and Chicago with her husband. And she was tired of guessing. She wanted an answer.

She parked illegally on the hill nearest the apartment and walked two blocks. Their unit was one of thirty in a two-story red-brick rectangle. Abby stood outside her door and fumbled through the purse looking for keys. Suddenly, the door jerked open. He grabbed her, yanked her inside the tiny apartment, threw her on the sofa and attacked her neck with his lips. She yelled and giggled as arms and legs thrashed about. They kissed, one of those long, wet, ten-minute embraces with groping and fondling and moaning, the kind they had enjoyed as teenagers when kissing was fun and mysterious and the ultimate.

"My goodness," she said when they finished. "What's the occasion?"

"Do you smell anything?" Mitch asked.

She looked away and sniffed. "Well, yes. What is it?"

"Chicken chow mein and egg foo yung. From Wong Boys."

"Okay, what's the occasion?"

"Plus an expensive bottle of Chablis. It's even got a cork."

"What have you done, Mitch?"

"Follow me." On the small, painted kitchen table, among the legal pads and casebooks, sat a large bottle of wine and a sack of Chinese food. They shoved the law school paraphernalia aside and spread the food. Mitch opened the wine and filled two plastic wineglasses.

"I had a great interview today," he said.


"Remember that firm in Memphis I received a letter from last month?"

"Yes. You weren't too impressed."

"That's the one. I'm very impressed. It's all tax work and the money looks good."

"How good?"

He ceremoniously dipped chow mein from the container onto both plates, then ripped open the tiny packages of soy sauce. She waited for an answer. He opened another container and began dividing the egg foo yung. He sipped his wine and smacked his lips.

"How much?" she repeated.

"More than Chicago. More than Wall Street."

She took a long, deliberate drink of wine and eyed him suspiciously. Her brown eyes narrowed and glowed. The eyebrows lowered and the forehead wrinkled. She waited.

"How much?"

"Eighty thousand, first year, plus bonuses. Eighty-five, second year, plus bonuses." He said this nonchalantly while studying the celery bits in the chow mein.

"Eighty thousand," she repeated.

"Eighty thousand, babe. Eighty thousand bucks in Memphis, Tennessee, is about the same as a hundred and twenty thousand bucks in New York."

"Who wants New York?" she asked.

"Plus a low-interest mortgage loan."

That word—mortgage—had not been uttered in the apartment in a long time. In fact, she could not, at the moment, recall the last discussion about a home or anything related to one. For months now it had been accepted that they would rent some place until some distant, unimaginable point in the future when they achieved affluence and would then qualify for a large mortgage.

She sat her glass of wine on the table and said matter-of-factly, "I didn't hear that."

"A low-interest mortgage loan. The firm loans enough money to buy a house. It's very important to these guys that their associates look prosperous, so they give us the money at a much lower rate."

"You mean as in a home, with grass around it and shrubs?"

"Yep. Not some overpriced apartment in Manhattan, but a three-bedroom house in the suburbs with a driveway and a two-car garage where we can park the BMW."

The reaction was delayed by a second or two, but she finally said, "BMW? Whose BMW?"

"Ours, babe. Our BMW. The firm leases a new one and gives us the keys. It's sort of like a signing bonus for a first-round draft pick. It's worth another five thousand a year. We pick the color, of course. I think black would be nice. What do you think?"

"No more clunkers. No more leftovers. No more hand-me-downs," she said as she slowly shook her head.

He crunched on a mouthful of noodles and smiled at her. She was dreaming, he could tell, probably of furniture, and wallpaper, and perhaps a pool before too long. And babies, little dark-eyed children with light brown hair.

"And there are some other benefits to be discussed later."

"I don't understand, Mitch. Why are they so generous?"

"I asked that question. They're very selective, and they take a lot of pride in paying top dollar. They go for the best and don't mind shelling out the bucks. Their turnover rate is zero. Plus, I think it costs more to entice the top people to Memphis."

"It would be closer to home," she said without looking at him.

"I don't have a home. It would be closer to your parents, and that worries me."

She deflected this, as she did most of his comments about her family. "You'd be closer to Ray."

He nodded, bit into an egg roll and imagined her parents' first visit, that sweet moment when they pulled into the driveway in their well-used Cadillac and stared in shock at the new French colonial with two new cars in the garage. They would burn with envy and wonder how the poor kid with no family and no status could afford all this at twenty-five and fresh out of law school. They would force painful smiles and comment on how nice everything was, and before long Mr. Sutherland would break down and ask how much the house cost and Mitch would tell him to mind his own business, and it would drive the old man crazy. They'd leave after a short visit and return to Kentucky, where all their friends would hear how great the daughter and the son-in-law were doing down in Memphis. Abby would be sorry they couldn't get along but wouldn't say much. From the start they had treated him like a leper. He was so unworthy they had boycotted the small wedding.

"Have you ever been to Memphis?" he asked.

"Once when I was a little girl. Some kind of convention for the church. All I remember is the river."

"They want us to visit."

"Us! You mean I'm invited?"

"Yes. They insist on you coming."


"Couple of weeks. They'll fly us down Thursday afternoon for the weekend."

"I like this firm already."

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Taut, fast and  relentless... A ride worth taking." —San Francisco Chronicle.

"Keeps the reader hooked... From the creepy first  chapters... to the vise-tightening midsection and  on to the take-the money-and-run finale."—The Wall Street Journal.

"Irresistable... seizes the reader on the opening  page and propels him through 400 more."—Peter Prescott, Newsweek.

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The Firm 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 395 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read several Grisham books before I picked up 'The Firm.' Each one I delighted in reading, and enjoyed almost every page. 'The Firm' brings all things that make a story interesting together, like a salad of themes and ideas: money, wealth, power, love, corruption, death, adventure, and intrigue. And while the beginning is somewhat slow, it is necessary to set up the deep twisted plot. The end brings everything together in an explosion...when everyone's running. The question is, who can run faster?
BritAllie More than 1 year ago
To me this is the best of Grisham's books. Readable and engrossing these are engaging characters that you want to spend time with. I will admit that there are points I picked up the 2nd time I read it, but it's a book you can over and over again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of the 3 of Grisham's books I've read (A Time to Kill, The Client and the Firm) this one was his best. If you are one of those people who reads the book and then sees the movie this is one of those times where the book is THAT much better than the movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If u have not read the firm, u need to as its his best book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book starts off a little slow,but gains speed quickly until you can't put it down. Great plot and excellently written.
Vivian_Metzger More than 1 year ago
You won't put this book down. It captures you and you'll struggle to put the book down and go to bed! The intense plot with no let-up will keep you at the edge of your seat for hours. The beginning is a bit slow, but once you get into the heart of the story, too slow won't be an issue. Grisham's writing style allows you to read the sentence on the page, feel that you are there, and also make it believable. Many writers can't do that in their thrillers. The author writes it in a way where you know that it wouldn't happen and it takes you out of the story and drops the suspense. But Grisham writes so well that you feel that you are in the story and you start to worry and feel emotions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perhaps my biggest issue with this book is that I did not allow myself to fully get into it. I would read a few pages and put it aside. If you are a person who is more into the overall story than the characters, this book will probably be great for you. However, if you are like me and rely on strong, interesting characters to keep you interested, you may not be as happy with this book as others. The ending is amazing. And, I recommend reading the whole thing because the conclusion does not disappoint.
MR32 More than 1 year ago
Mitch McDeere was a still at Harvard finishing up his law degree when the Bendini, Lambert and Locke Firm came knocking at his door. Mitch had been contacted by firms in Chicago and Wall Street but the Bendini Firm with its salary more than anyone else, a free BMW of your choice, and a low interest rate on your first home, was almost too good to be true. Mitch undoubtedly took the money at the Bendini Firm, but after being there for only a short time, two of the firm's lawyers die in an apparent accident in the Cayman Islands. Soon after, the Federal Bureau of Investigation pay Mitch a visit while he is eating lunch and ask him to help them in an investigation of his firm. At first Mitch tells them no, but once he realizes that the firm is really ran by a crime ring out of Chicago, he decides to put his neck on the line to help the FBI nail their tails. The two that died in the Cayman Islands were helping the FBI before they died "in an accident." Will the same fate come to Mitch McDeere or will he walk away into the sunset? This is a spectacular book that everyone should have on their book shelf. The Firm keeps you guessing what will happen all the way until the last page. This book has a little bit of everything for everybody in it, with thrills, law, deception, murder, high crimes, romance, love, and suspense. If you decide to read this book, you better put aside a lot of time, because you will not be able to put it down. This is one of my favorite books. Other books that I have enjoyed are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Blood Brothers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the first book by John Grisham that I have read and I really enjoyed it. He does a good job of explaining his plots in solid detail. The overall theme of the book is you get what you deserve. Mitch McDeere gets everything handed straight to him, and in the end that is what screws him over. He doesn't do any of his own work and he never truly knows what it feels like to earn something. He goes to jail for something his company does because they're just leading him on the whole time. The firm breaks down into shambles because the FBI comes in and takes a hold of it. It really shows how strong the value of hard work is and how much time and effort it takes to really enjoy something for a living. The book explains how you can't get everything you want by sitting back and doing nothing.
bennyb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reasonable not one of Grishams best reads. I found the ending a bit of a let down.
theonlybroncofan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
this is a good book with many twists and surprises. this book develops from an ordinary lawyer firm to a complex mob money laundrying business. I think this is a good book and i recomend it to everyone.
maryloudinon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A young lawyer is recruited by a major lawfirm and exploited and manipulated. One of the best books I have ever read.
jepeters333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mitch get caught up with crooked law firm.
Michelle4263 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a big John Grisham fan, but this book remains my firm favourite. Fast paced, tightly written and full of intrigue once it hooks you in you stay ensnared until the end.
ajbarnett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a well-drawn story that dragged me straight into the central character¿s dilemma. I found myself believing this really had taken place, and longed for a successful end to the problem - yet couldn¿t see it happening.The backdrop Grisham uses is excellent, showing the upright customs and principles of Memphis, yet with a substructure of dishonesty and exploitation. John Grisham created a reality from his imagination that left me feeling cold. I found The Firm to be a compelling reading experience, and thoroughly recommend it.
LillyParks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Grisham's Best!This book was one of the first John Grisham novel that I read. I enjoyed it then and I enjoyed it the second time around. The story follows the life of Mitch McDeere a young lawyer right out of Harvard. Mitch decides to go to work at a large firm in Memphis, Tennessee. He believes that this law firm is a very prestigious firm, however about midway in the story he finds out that many of his colleagues are dying in strange circumstances and that the firm is a pretty shady outfit. The FBI is involved for they are always asking Mitch about the firm and its connection to the Mafia. Eventually, Mitch decides that he has got to stop workimg for this firm. But, that turns out to be not so easy. Once you read this book you find that the characters are well developed and the plot is excellent. The book is better than the movie, although I didn't think the movie was that bad. Its a great read. Highly recommend.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had some trouble wrapping my mind around the premise of this novel, where a young lawyer gets involved with a mobbed-up law firm. Third in in his class at Harvard Law and on law review? He'd spend his first year post-law school as a Supreme Court clerk and then surely move on to some famous, established firm such as Sullivan and Cromwell and would be too tuned into the grapevine, and have too bright a future to go near a firm like the book's Bendini, Lambert, and Locke. And the crookedness of the firm seems to be at too large a scale to have been kept quiet for decades. But then that is what I'd have thought of a scheme and outfit like that of Bernie Madoff.And Grisham gets the details of a new graduate at a top law firm so convincingly, evocatively right. The sweating, nauseating terror as you cram for the bar exam. The crushing 90 hour plus work week of a rookie at a top firm. How giddy and intimidating it can be for a working class kid encountering the plush world of a law firm, seducing you with those golden handcuffs. And the prose style is smooth. It doesn't impress with say the beauty of a literary style like a Margaret Atwood, with lines for the ages. But it's the kind of well-crafted narrative that sucks you in, and hours later you're blinking at the page number amazed you've read hundreds of pages. It's a fast-paced, entertaining thriller.
mikedraper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mitch McDerre accepts a position with a law firm in Mobile that specializes in tax law. Shortly after starting his job, he learns that two of the newer associates have been killed when boating in Grand Cayman.When he passes the bar exam, an FBI agent approaches him and tells him that everything isn't as it looks in the firm. The company is owned by the mob and a number of the larger clients have been evading their taxes with the help of the firm's attorneys. He also tells Mitch that his home, car and office are bugged and that he's being followed.Mitch hires a private detective to investigate the death of the two emlpoyees who recently died and two others who also died in unusual circumstances. The investigator gives Mitch the info he wanted but then the investigator is murdered.We follow Mitch's life as he changes from an ambitious employee to a man in fear of his career and his life. Mitch wonders if the FBI will be able to get him out of this situation and what the risk would be for him and his wife.This is a well plotted novel. The reader is drawn to Mitch's dilemma and can visualize something like this really happening as we hope for a successful conclusion.
VirgoGirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favourite John Grisham book. It's got everything a good legal thriller needs and keeps you hooked right until the end. I have re-read this one several times.
atimco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read The Firm at the instigation of a younger sister who sped through it at a pace unusual for her. She promised me that it was a gripping story that I would really enjoy. I had been planning to try the famous John Grisham eventually, and had laid in a store of his paperbacks to await my whim. Well, the whim came last week and so I picked up this book. My feelings about it are mixed.Mitch McDeere, a recent graduate of Harvard Law School, is a brilliant young man who was third in his class. He and his wife Abby have had a thin time of it in law school, but all that is about to change once Mitch chooses among the fat job offers he's been handed. The best offer by far is from the quiet little tax firm in Memphis, where everything seems too good to be true. (Hint: when a job offer seems too good to be true, there is probably a reason for it.) Mitch and Abby soon learn that their very lives are in danger, and no one can be trusted.On one level, I did enjoy this book. It's ominous right from the start and the tension builds nicely. (Though I will say that it never took over my life the way certain non-thrillers *coughJaneEyrecough* have; I put it down at some tense moments in the story during the three days it took to read it, and was never tempted to stay up into the wee hours to finish it.) I can see why it would be a bestseller, though it's no masterpiece from a literary standpoint. The world of elite lawyers is well portrayed.But I never really felt invested in the characters. There was just something about them that kept me at arms' length. Mitch's adultery bothered me for several reasons. As a moralist I wanted him to confess it to his wife, and commit to change (even though the adultery was a one-shot deal, the thoughts and habits leading up to it were not). And from a literary standpoint, Grisham really failed to explore the ongoing tension Mitch feels by keeping that secret bottled up inside. Does he ever confess to Abby, or does he continue to hide the truth from her for the rest of their lives? I know why Grisham includes that episode ¿ to show how the firm controlled its young lawyers partly by blackmail ¿ but after it happened and Mitch has his initial guilt about it, it drops out of the story completely. And that just doesn't make sense to me. Another thing I didn't really care for was how Grisham constantly describes Mitch and Abby having sex as them "trying to kill each other." Why must good sex be violent and crazy (and apparently nightly)? And why must our hero and heroine possess perfect, sculpted, model-like bodies in addition to all their other perfections? That aspect of the story reads like juvenile wish fulfillment on the part of Grisham... or worse, for us his readers, who are being served such an unsubtle dish. So, I read a Grisham book. Will I read another? Mmmm, probably eventually. I like to break out of my normal reading habits occasionally and read something different from my usual fare. Grisham's fans can tell me if I started with a good one or if there is another title of his that they would recommend. Overall, this story didn't really deliver on all its promises of taut, thrilling entertainment, but I certainly found it readable and enjoyed the view into the complicated world of tax lawyers.
cmbest524 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Grisham books are an entertaining read, but they're not exactly thought provoking.
melydia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I should not have read this so soon after The Client. They have way too much in common, not the least of which being the incessant repetition of the phrase, "the mob never forgets." That said, it's still an okay legal thriller. Not great, but it helped the commute go by.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is Grisham's second novel, and his first blockbuster. As a result, succeeding novels in the same genre begin to repeat themselves and become stale. They are, however, very similar, both in style and in quality (with the exception of some of his most recent works). The first that you read will likely be your favorite. This was my first, hence the five star rating.
coffeesucker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A really good book - I loved it.
mazda502001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my favourite Grisham books - an excellent, gripping thriller.Back Cover Blurb:Mitch qualified at Harvard, third in his class, and is sought by law firms all over America. The one that gets him is small, but well-respected, and pays him beyond his wildest dreams. But then the nightmares begin - secret files, bugs in the bedroom, colleagues' mysterious deaths and mob money.