Morgan Siler is one of Washington, D.C.'s most powerful K Street law firms, its roster of clients stocked with multibillion-dollar corporations. The obsessive efforts of its senior partner, Peter Morgan, have transformed it from an old-fashioned business into a veritable Goliath. As Peter reaches the pinnacle of his career, his firm is embroiled in two difficult cases: a pro bono death penalty case in Virginia, and a class action lawsuit brought against Hubble Chemical of Texas after an on site explosion killed dozens of workers.
Assigned to these cases is a group of seasoned partners and young associates struggling to make their way in the firm. Mark Clayton, fresh out of law school, is beginning to loathe the dullness of much of his work and to be frightened by the deterioration of his personal life when he is assigned to the pro bono case. Assisting him is the mercurial Walker Eliot, a brilliant third-year associate whose passion for the law is as great as his skill at unraveling its intricacies. The aggressive, profane, and wildly successful litigator Harold Fineman is leading the Hubble defense, assisted by the new associate Katja Phillips, whose odd combination of efficiency and idealism intrigue him, and Ryan Grady, whose quest to pick up girls is starting to interfere with his work.
In this complex, ambitious, and gripping first novel, Kermit Roosevelt vividly illustrates the subtle and stark effects of the law not only on the lives of a group of lawyers but also on communities and private citizens. In the Shadow of the Law is both a deftly plotted page-turner and a meditation on the life of the law, the organism that is a law firm, and the consequences for those who come within its powerful orbit.