Light Reading: Fiction Featuring Women Lawyers
I don’t know about you, but I always get a bit of a thrill when I see a female lawyer as a character in a movie, TV show, or book. It immediately has me connecting with the character, and I get a fun boost from seeing professional women represented in meaningful ways.
Because reading fiction books is my favourite way to de-stress after a workday, today I’m bringing you some recommendations for contemporary fiction books featuring female lawyer main characters.
1. The Boys’ Club, by Erica Katz (2020)
This legal suspense read, bordering on social horror, is one of my favourite books I’ve read so far this year!
The Boys’ Club centres on Alex Vogel, a recent Harvard Law School grad who’s starting as an associate at a prestigious New York City law firm. She snags a coveted spot in the firm’s M&A group, soon getting drawn into the intense demands of corporate work, morally dubious business development expectations, and behavioural requirements to fit in with her male colleagues and their high-profile clients.
Written by a New York lawyer, The Boys’ Club is a must-read if you’re looking for a compelling story about gender dynamics in Big Law.
2. Last Tang Standing, by Lauren Ho (2020)
I am typically drawn to relatively light-hearted, romantic fiction books. I see them as the perfect form of escapism from the demands of private practice. Last Tang Standing is one of my favourite lawyer-centred romantic comedy reads.
The story stars Andrea Tang, an M&A lawyer living in Singapore, whose meddling Chinese-Malaysian family wants nothing more than for her to settle down with a husband. Andrea, on the other hand, is more focused on making partner at her firm, and butting heads with her office rival, Suresh. When Andrea meets a charming, wealthy man who’s interested in her, she decides to try out a romantic relationship of her family’s dreams – but ultimately is forced to choose between pleasing her family with Mr. Perfect-on-Paper, and following her heart.
3. In Five Years, by Rebecca Serle (2020)
In Five Years is a magical realism story about Dannie Kohan, a corporate lawyer in New York City. Dannie’s life is going according to plan: she lives in a great apartment in a great part of the city, she’s found the perfect guy, who just proposed to her right on schedule, and she’s just nailed an interview at the prestigious law firm of her dreams. The night of her engagement, Dannie falls asleep and wakes up in an apartment that is not hers, wearing an engagement ring that is not hers, and with a man who is not her fiancé – exactly five years in the future. An hour later she wakes up back in her home in the present, unable to shake the feeling that her dream wasn’t really a dream. She tries to move past it, until 4-and-a-half years later, when she meets the very man from her dream. As her life takes unexpected turns, she’s forced to question her plans and decide what kind of life she really wants.
Ultimately, this book is a romance – but not the one you think. It’s emotional and heartfelt, and great for when you need a good cry. One of my all-time favourites!
4. If I Never Met You, by Mhairi McFarlane (2020)
Mhairi McFarlane is one of my favourite authors. Her books tend to be a mix of romance and women’s fiction. Her characters have so much depth and relatability, and she hits the perfect balance of emotion and comedy. Plus, her books take place in the UK, and something about British romances just speaks to me. So I was thrilled when she wrote a book starring a female lawyer!
Laurie is a successful barrister at a UK law firm, where she works with her long-time boyfriend, Dan. When Dan suddenly ends their relationship after meeting someone else, Laurie is blindsided, and their break-up becomes the latest office gossip. In hopes of making Dan jealous, Laurie agrees to have a fake relationship with Jamie, another lawyer at the firm whose playboy reputation is interfering with his career progression. Things get complicated when real feelings arise.
If you’re looking for a romance with both comedy and emotional depth, including some classic fake dating shenanigans, this book is for you!
5. Full Disclosure, by Beverley McLachlin (2018)
I certainly couldn’t make a list like this without including this legal thriller by our very own former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada!
Full Disclosure is about Jilly Truitt, a young criminal defence lawyer in Vancouver. When the affluent Vincent Trussardi is accused of murdering his wife, Laura, Jilly takes him on as a client and dives into the case. As she gathers information, she encounters the mysterious people in the Trussardis’ familial and social circles, and the secrets surrounding Laura’s death.
Once you’ve finished Full Disclosure, don’t forget to catch the sequel, Denial, which came out last year.
6. Party of Two, by Jasmine Guillory (2020)
The fifth book in Jasmine Guillory’s popular “The Wedding Date” series, Party of Two features Olivia Monroe, who’s just moved from New York to Los Angeles to start her own law firm with a friend. This book is a light and fun romantic comedy, perfect for when you don’t want anything too emotionally taxing, but still want some substance. While staying at a hotel on arrival in town, Olivia hits it off with a handsome stranger in the hotel bar, Max. After an evening of flirting, Olivia learns that Max is actually a hotshot U.S. senator. Max pursues Olivia and the two begin a relationship, but Olivia soon learns that dating a politician in the public eye comes with significant challenges.
7. Renegade, by Nancy Allen (2022)
Another legal thriller written by someone with first-hand knowledge! Renegade is written by Nancy Allen, former Assistant Missouri Attorney General, and this is the first in the new “Anonymous Justice” series.
The book centres on Kate Stone, an Assistant Deputy Attorney in New York who gets into trouble after punching a serial assaulter whom she unsuccessfully prosecuted. Her boss requires her to attend anger management meetings, where she meets a group of people all failed by the justice system, who have decided to take justice into their own hands. Similarly jaded, Kate is forced to reckon with her visions of justice and morality and decide where she fits into this group of renegades.
Renegade is far-fetched and action-packed, filled with twists and drama. If you’re looking for the book equivalent of a fun action movie, this is for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Shoom is a partner at Lerners LLP in Toronto, in the Commercial Litigation, Arbitration and Appeals Practice Groups. She acts as counsel and arbitrator in a wide variety of commercial disputes. She regularly mentors articling students and associate lawyers, and in her off time, is an avid reader and dedicated trivia team member.