Writing a Legal Thriller

This thriller, often compared to Presumed Innocent, also features a prosecutor who is more closely involved in a murder case than he initially admits. Here, however, Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber is not the accused killer — his 14-year-old son, Jacob, is. The victim was Jacob`s classmate and a bully, but Andy would prefer the police to focus their investigation on a local pedophile. However, when new evidence emerges, Jacob is arrested and tried. Reading a good legal thriller gives the same feeling I had as a kid when I listened to my father`s stories. We sit on the edge of our seats, waiting, engaged and enthusiastic. Here are the six necessary elements, and the next time you read a legal thriller, look for those elements. The best writers write thrillers that weave these elements together and give us a novel we love. «A common mistake I see time and time again in court drama is that the judge is a standard character,» said James Grippando, a Miami attorney who has been writing legal thrillers for 25 years and won the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction in 2017 for his novel Gone Again. «In the real world, the judge runs the courtroom, not the lawyers. That`s not to say the judge should be the main character, but it`s a missed opportunity to leave your judge indefinite.

So the next legal thriller you read, if you turn the pages late at night, you might stop and think about these elements. Are they in the novel? And if you haven`t tried any of the authors I mentioned, give it a try. I recorded only the best. Don`t be too realistic: the defense attorneys and prosecutors I covered told me that big cases are rarely won with a brilliant summary. Instead, they said, cases were usually won at jury selection, when lawyers decided who would be the people to decide the case. The voir dire process is more important than most people realize, but you`ll never see it in a legal thriller because it`s neither sexy nor dramatic. The same goes for DNA comparisons and other technical statements from witnesses, which can be decisive for a verdict. When writing a legal thriller, one often feels the need to portray the author or villain as completely evil, horribly thorough, and continuous. But what I learned in my practice of law, much to my surprise, was that no matter how abhorrent my clients` actions were, I was always able to find in them a vein of humanity with which I could identify.

Like all of us, these criminals were human beings, which meant that they carried with them a bundle of complex and contradictory impulses, good and bad. Most had stories that made their life choices unacceptable, but at least somewhat understandable. Many other lawyers followed in his footsteps and created their own legal heroes and villains. In addition to my own experience, I have consulted some of the most prominent practitioners in the field on what aspiring writers should do to make their legal scenes more believable. Carter, a professor at Yale Law School, fills each chapter with in-depth knowledge of the federal court system and New England`s rare upper-class black world, making The Emperor of Ocean Park one of the most insightful legal thrillers of the past 20 years. Next month, Celadon will publish M.T. Edvardsson`s A Nearly Normal Family, the gripping story of a defense attorney who wonders if her 18-year-old daughter committed a brutal murder. In anticipation, we look at the 10 best legal thrillers of all time. From international blockbusters to hidden gems, these classics offer unbeatable drama without you having to register for the jury. The legal thriller may or may not have a real court scene, but often has some sort of legal twist.

For example, in the film My Cousin Vinny, the art of cross-examination, the concept of voir dire and the unreliability of uninvolved witnesses are woven into history. Legal concepts such as these or others, such as double jeopardy or the inadmissibility of evidence because it was obtained illegally, could determine the act. Sometimes the legal twist is as simple as deciding what documents can be discovered in a civil case, or as twisted as manipulating a jury or judge. Robert Dugoni`s My Sister`s Grave is a good example of strong court scenes that are so exciting and contribute to the outcome of the story. Whatever the legal twist, it`s an essential part of a great legal thriller. It is lazy writing to allow the police to arrest someone simply because they want to question them. It is much more interesting to unravel their investigation while gathering enough evidence to find a likely reason for an arrest. [For more tips on writing a legal thriller, check out Scott Turow`s interview with WD.] As a criminal defense attorney who has tried more than 200 jury trials, thriller author Ed Rucker has some tips for writing a legal thriller.

It is the search for justice, for truth, for the «law» that prevails by the reader, which is one of the decisive components that leads us to turn the pages. Whatever the role of the protagonist, he acts in the name of justice. They prevent an injustice from happening, or they right an injustice, such as someone who has been wrongly accused or convicted of a crime. But justice is not always served in the courtroom. Victor Methos` thriller The Neon Lawyer features the main character defending a woman who allegedly murdered the man who killed her six-year-old child. Is justice justice, as opposed to letting the justice system play, acceptable justice? Often, discussion is what constitutes justice, or a subject that animates the novel. Clarify your objections. For Paul Levine, nothing is more irritating than a completely false court scene. Levine, a former Miami lawyer who wrote the legal thriller series Jake Lassiter and Solomon vs. Lord, as well as scripts for the television series JAG, says there`s a commonly used phrase that he finds particularly offensive: «On television, you often hear, `Objection! The defense lawyer harasses the witness. There is no such objection.

What the lawyer means is: «Objection! Argumentative. You ask questions, but you do not argue with the witness. In my decades of experience in the practice of criminal law, I have found that defence lawyers, prosecutors, police officers and judges in our justice system are made up of the same amount of corruption as any other population. So writing a legal thriller with corrupt defense attorneys who train their clients to lie or counsel drug cartels would be realistic. Just as it is life-tested that some prosecutors hide evidence of innocence from the defense. And police often adjust their statements to circumvent certain constitutional guarantees, but they rarely lie about the facts to convict an innocent person. It`s never a simple plot in a good legal thriller. It`s more like a ringed rag or a strand of DNA, full of circular twists. As a great legal thriller progresses, the protagonist has more at stake and is more and more at risk with each page we turn.

Extortion, kidnapping, financial fraud, murder or other additional crimes are additional ingredients in an action that is already approaching boiling point. All these elements complicate the story, accelerate the pace and create suspense. Mickey Haller is a Los Angeles lawyer whose «office» is the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car. He is also the half-brother of Michael Connelly`s other iconic creation: LAPD Detective Harry Bosch. When Haller agrees to defend a wealthy broker accused of assault, he expects to amass a small fortune in billable hours. Instead, it meets pure evil. To save the life of an innocent man, Haller must bend the law to its limits. Full of dark details, dark humor and high-stakes action, The Lincoln announced that attorney Connelly will be the lead actor in the legal thriller. Let your readers burn the midnight oil with these 10 things to do and do to write suspense novels from Jenna Kernan, bestselling author of Publishers Weekly.

There are surely readers of legal thrillers who appreciate a larger-than-life plot in which the lawyer/hero has to hunt down a serial killer who turns out to be the president of the United States. And there`s no denying that the TV series Law and Order is popular, which portrays defense lawyers as unprincipled and prosecutors as unfairly hampered by the «technical details» of the Constitution. Nevertheless, I think there is often enough drama and suspense in an accurate interpretation of a criminal trial to satisfy the reader. (If you`re trying to write a compelling legal thriller but you`re not a lawyer, don`t be guilty of doing it wrong. Internationally renowned lawyer (and crime writer) Michael Avery has it all.) Nevertheless, readers of legal thrillers often look for more: they want authenticity.