The Rainmaker – By John Grisham


The first thing that struck me about the book was the title. I stupidly wondered whether it had something to do with taking a rain check. As it turns out, the rainmaker in legal jargon is someone who brings in lots of new clients thereby making loads of money for the firm he is employed at. The irony wasn’t lost on me as I started reading the book. The book’s protagonist isn’t exactly someone accustomed to catching lucky breaks.
Rudy Baylor is broke, on the verge of getting sued for pending debts and filing for bankruptcy. With just one more month of law school left, he keeps himself occupied with the less strenuous and lighter courses to be completed in the final semester. One of them is “Legal Problems for the Elderly” which takes him to a senior citizens support group where he signs up his first clients – Dot and Buddy Black. Their son Donny Ray was diagnosed with leukemia nearly a year ago and the only treatment option that would work is bone marrow transplantation. But their insurance company Great Benefit refuse their claim, citing various flimsy pretexts. Sadly, the one year of apathy has cost Donny Ray dearly, and he just has a few days to live. However, the Blacks want Great Benefit to pay for what they did. They want them sued.
This book has all the trappings of a classic David v/s Goliath story. Grisham meticulously sets up Rudy as an underdog that you want to root for. It helps that he is very relatable. Every twenty-something who has been through college would identify the jitters that come with not yet being able to land a job in the final semester. Rudy ends up with the cruel distinction of being the only one in his batch to get “fired” from his job even before he finishes school; when the firm that he lands a job at merges with a larger firm and lay off people. After some unsuccessful attempts at searching for work, he temporarily takes up employment with Bruiser Stone, who has a shady reputation with the law enforcement for money laundering. Expectedly, things go south pretty soon, when the feds raid Stone’s offices, and Rudy is forced to open up his own practice with another colleague, by pooling in their meagre savings.
I think what surprised me the most is how smoothly the case proceeded for the plaintiffs after the initial hiccups. After all the odds stacked against Rudy in the beginning, I expected more bumps along the way; considering Rudy was up against wealthy defendants represented by one of the largest law firms in the state. But Grisham does throw in a bit of a curveball in the final pages. Without revealing much, all I can say is that Rudy’s disillusionment is palpable. He ends up putting all the effort to win which he does, but it turns out be a hollow victory with losses all around for everyone. And with that, Rudy discovers how sometimes experiences and laws governing the sphere within your profession can leave you totally disenchanted.