By Max BowenWho doesn’t love a good joke about lawyers?
That was the thinking that led T.C. Morrison to publish his first book, “TORT$ ‘R’ US,” debuting the memorable pairing of Pap and Pup. Since then, he’s found great success in his series of farcical legal shenanigans, continuing with his latest release, “Send in The Tort Lawyer$,” available on Sept. 12 through iBooks.
In this interview, Morrison talks about the continuation of the series, how his 45-year legal career spawned the book series, and his satirical take on the legal profession.
Let’s begin with what motivated you to turn to writing?
I love novels and have always wanted to write one. In fact, during my four years in the Air Force JAG Corps. I wrote a “spy” novel. Fortunately, the three publishers I sent it to all turned it down.
Forty-five years later, as I was in my final year of practicing law, I again began thinking about writing a novel. This time I thought I should write about something I knew about. Having tried cases and argued appeals throughout the country for 45 years, modern day litigation was a natural subject for me.
What about your profession made you think it’d be good for a book?
I didn’t want to write a “serious” book about the legal profession, who would read it? And I didn’t want to write a legal thriller, they’re a dime a dozen. But who doesn’t enjoy a good joke about lawyers? The New Yorker even has an entire book of lawyer cartoons! I have always believed there is lots of humor in the law, even in many of my own cases. So, I decided to make my books not merely humorous, but farcical. That gave me the leeway to create partners, associates, clients, expert witnesses, judges and opposing counsel who are bizarre, wacky and, frequently, over-the-top zany.
Do the stories ever take inspiration from cases you’ve worked on?
The first part of the first book in the series, TORT$ ‘R’ US, portrays the childhood and then early professional life of the two protagonists, Pap and Pup, before they broke away from their blue chip law firms to start up a small class action firm. Virtually all of the cases they engage in during those early years are takeoffs on cases I personally tried during my years in practice - thus proving that there was considerable humor even in my own cases. However, as I did not do class action litigation, all the cases brought by Peters and Peters are takeoffs on actual class action cases that I have read about.
Who are Pap and Pup?
Patrick A. Peters (“Pap”) and Prescott U. Peters (“Pup”) were introduced in the first book in the series. They are twin brothers who grew up in the wealthy Connecticut town of Greenwich where Pup still lives and where the brothers still have a weekly golf game at a swanky country club in that town (where a hilarious scene with Pap’s neighbor Mona Lott takes place in the first book). Both became successful lawyers in prominent New York City law firms before Pap convinces Pup that they should leave their respective firms and start up a plaintiffs class action firm.
Pap, a terrific athlete, is the Alpha male - street smart, aggressive, full of ideas for new cases, and is always the lead speaker in the courtroom. Pup is more cautious and intellectual and is always trying to talk Pap out of the latest case he has dreamed up. Pup frequently complains that he should never have let Pap talk him into leaving a blue chip law firm to start up a hare-brained class action firm. But Pup’s legal brilliance comes in handy in all of their cases.
What can fans expect from the new book?
First of all, they can expect a continuation of the hilarious meetings and banter of the lawyers at the Peters and Peters law firm, and of course more sexual conquests by associate Chip Pierpont, a former college quarterback who manages to bed every woman he meets.
But the core of the book is a continuation of the madcap class action lawsuits that filled the first two books in the series. For example, Pap – over the objection and skepticism of Pup – insists on yet another attempt to free the chimps “held against their will” in the Bronx Zoo. And of course, there is yet another new case on behalf of their most famous client, the gorgeous Lydia Lowlace, a former lap dancer turned Playboy Centerfold, who’s image is being used without her knowledge or consent on a series of nonfungible tokens (NFTs).
New clients include Dr. Irene Goodknight, a sleep doctor whose office is in her husband’s funeral home; Dr. Goodknight becomes the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the celebrities and well-known sports figures who shamelessly promoted the now-worthless cryptocurrency issued by the now-bankrupt FUX, once a darling of the investment community and the media. There is also a lawsuit on behalf of all the lawyers who have been prevented from attending events at New York’s Radio City and Madison Square Circle because their law firms are involved in litigation against the owner of those venues. And Pap finally succeeds in finding ice cream purchasers and a small Connecticut dairy who are willing to take on Vermont ice cream maker Jen and Barry’s over the claim that its ice cream is made from the milk and cream of “happy cows.” A unique feature of this book is that the cryptocurrency case – which is straight out of today’s news – is an example of an appropriate use of the class action mechanism.
How would you say your books satirize the legal system?
The books satirize everyone involved in the American legal system: Pap and Pup and the associates in their law firm; their many lovable but wacky clients; their bizarre and sometimes unscrupulous adversaries; their bizarre expert witnesses such as Dr. Doolittle, who testifies about his conversations with animals; and the frequently befuddled judges who preside over the cases.
Because the books are intended as farce, all of the characters who populate the books are considerably exaggerated. This over-the-top satire is inspired by my belief, based on 45 years of trying cases around the country, that (1) there is lots of humor in the cases we lawyers are involved in and (2) many lawyers take themselves far too seriously.
The one serious message in the books is that the class action system has run amuck and that class action cases frequently involve illusory “harms” and that, far too often, benefit only the class action lawyers who file the cases.