RUNNING HEAD: THE STREET LAWYER The Street Lawyer Social Work 3040-01I Apr. 30, 2008 SUMMARY John Grisham’s The Street Lawyer tells the story of Michael Brock a married wealthy attorney who has it all. Michael, a graduate of Yale University, works at Drake & Sweeny, one of the top and well respected firms in Washington D. C. While there he is making the money and rushing relentlessly to the top of Drake & Sweeny. He is only one step away from an early partnership.
Until one rainy winter afternoon at Drake & Sweeny.An angry homeless man who only wants to be called “Mister” holds Michael and eight other lawyers hostage in an office at Drake & Sweeny. “Mister” demands the tax records be brought to him. After the tax records arrive he orders Michael to tell him what each lawyer including Michael has made in earnings for the year and how much of their money is donated to charities and the homeless. After several hours the hostage stand off is over leaving one man dead and another reborn. Mister” is shot in the head by a sniper policeman as he opens the office door to receive the soup he wants delivered from a local shelter. “Mister’s” blood and bodily fluids cover Michael’s entire face since he is standing directly behind him. The police escort Michael to a small gym in the building where doctors examine him and he is able to shower.
After his shower Michael returns home. The next morning he returns to work at Drake & Sweeny. After reading an article in the Post he learns more about “Mister” whose real name is DeVon Hardy.After paying a visit to Mordecia Green the director of the 14th Street Legal Clinic, where “Mister” was a client, Michael begins to rethink his career as an anti-trust lawyer for Drake & Sweeny and his life as well. Leaving Drake & Sweeny to become a street lawyer would have profound affect on his home life and marriage as well. After telling his wife he will take a job with less money and no benefits the couple separate and eventually file for divorce.
Michael moves to a smaller apartment on the rough side of Washington D. C. nd begins working at the 14th Street Legal Law Clinic with Mordeci Green. While working there Michael is harboring a dark secret: a confidential file. A confidential file from the law offices of Drake & Sweeny which contains information about the illegal eviction of “Mister“ and the other homeless people. Now Drake & Sweeny know their file is missing and want it returned immediately no matter what. Even if it means Michael losing his license to practice law.
His former partners have become his enemies and Michael is now the most dangerous man on the streets of Washington D.C. EXAMINATION Populations-at risk are the homeless in John Grisham’s The Street Lawyer and the environment that which they live in are considered the social environment. Populations-at risk are defined as populations or groups of people who share some identifiable characteristics that places them at greater risk of social and economic deprivation and oppression than the general mainstream of society. The social environment involves the conditions, circumstances, and human interactions that encompasses human beings.People are dependent upon effective interactions with their environment in order to survive and thrive. The social environment includes the actual physical setting that society provides. This involves the type of home a person lives in, the type of work that is done, the amount of money available, and the laws and social rules by which people live.
“Mister” and the other homeless who were illegal evicted from their makeshift apartments are to considered members of a social environment. In reference to the social environment the actual physical setting that society provided to the homeless were homeless shelters.But once the homeless shelters do not begin to taken in borders because they are over crowded the homeless are forced into the streets in hopes of finding a safe and warm place to stay for the night. Sleeping on park benches and makeshift warehouses are the only means of shelter available to them. Even if they are working at a job the wages are usually not enough to provide adequate shelter. Society tends to blame the homeless for their choice of life and for being homeless. But at times it not the fault of the homeless but the fault of the government.
For example a working middle class family loses their home to foreclosure because of lay-offs and budget cuts at their jobs. With being laid off both lose their pension and benefits that came along with their jobs. Even if both parents would find another job paying minimum wage it would not be enough to pay the $1000. 00 monthly mortgage and other expenses. Therefore, those individuals cannot be held at fault for becoming homeless the fault lies with the budget cuts made by the federal government to their jobs. At other times the fault lies with the individual themselves for becoming homeless.For example a woman works as a nurse in a hospital becomes addicted to prescription drugs and is later fired from her job because of stealing the prescription drugs to which is addicted to. Since the prescription drugs are no longer available to her she becomes addicted to crack/cocaine because it is accessible to her.
She files for unemployment until she can find another job but her unemployment checks are going to support her habit instead of paying her monthly rent. She is evicted and thrown into the streets where and begins prostitution to support her habit.Receiving a “fix” has become her main priority in life. In that particular situation the individual is the blame for their choice to become homeless.
ELUDICATION John Grisham’s characters Michael Brock and Mordecia Green worked not only as attorneys for the homeless but also as social workers too. Throughout The Street Lawyer Michael and Mordecia counseled each individual to gain a knowledge of what their lives were before they became homeless and why they have become homeless. Most lawyers would not take the time find out if whether or not their client had a place to sleep or food to eat the night before.Many lawyers would not offer their services free of charge. Michael and Mordecia worked as lawyers as well as social workers. Each day Michael and Mordecia traveled to a local homeless shelter to interview potential clients and help them with whatever they needed.
Most of their clients were generally homeless people or individuals who were laid off from their job recently. The two helped these individuals fill out government forms, obtain job applications, and sometimes a rehab center for those who were addicted to drugs and alcohol.At times some clients could not be helped but Michael and Mordecia provided their counseling service as a means of help. Some individuals only needed some to talk to about what was going on in their life at that time. He wants his readers to see the similarities between social workers and attorneys. His examples with Michael and Mordecia with their clients express key elements in the career of a social worker. EVALUATION/CONCLUSION The Street Lawyer by John Grisham conveys its readers to the unknown world of homelessness and the cause.He wants his readers to see the cruel dark side of humanity and how society views homelessness.
By having the story take place in Washington D. C. , the capitol of the United States, a place where many would not believe crack houses are a block away from the White House. Homeless women, men, and children are forced to seek shelter anywhere when all the shelters in the city are full. These same people are usually victims of layoffs and budget cuts by Congress. Grisham wants his readers to see the reality of homelessness and that it can happen to anyone.One’s whole perspective on their life can change in an instance because of one individual or many. He gives thorough examples throughout his book about the day and life of a homeless person and their family.
The struggles they face day to day not knowing if he or she will have something to eat or a place to sleep by night fall. He contributes to the study of social work by having his main characters act as counselors to the homeless, employment agencies and location of rehabs for those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.The Street Lawyer is a learning tool in the world of social work for those who want to gain a better understanding of what a social worker does on a daily bases. One who enjoys helping others and making a difference in someone else’s life will definitely enjoy reading this book. After reading this book I now have a better understanding of homelessness and I will eventually use this book as learning tool while furthering my education in the study of social work.