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Book: How to Hook a Shyster - Bottom Fishing for Lawyers Willing to Take Ridiculous Cases by Kenneth L. McElwee

Book Reviews: How to Hook a Shyster - Bottom Fishing for Lawyers Willing to Take Ridiculous Cases by Kenneth L. McElwee

categories: Book, Humor, Entertainment, Attorney, Shyster


 An Hysterical, Provocative Call for the Return of Morality in our Legal System

I'm a Christian and a litigator who practices in Michigan, and I can say without hesitation that "How to Hook a Shyster" is, to say the least, the most unlikely book to be given a glowing review on any Christian website. Why? "How to Hook a Shyster" consists of a collection of prank letters from a fictitious person, J. Morgan Dumont, III, who's so wealthy that he makes Bill Gates look like a pauper. Dumont's letters are directed to real attorneys and are intended to induce them into making fools of themselves by agreeing to champion his frivolous, obscene, perverted and otherwise twisted "legal" causes, and Dumont uses the bait of huge, non-refundable retainers to hook his targeted lawyers. In his letters, Dumont presents himself as the most reprehensible "human" imaginable, and his letters are salacious, perverted, twisted and just plain evil. However, the genius behind this humorous book is as a scathing expose of our legal system in the guise of a good-natured "joke book".

"How to Hook a Shyster" works on several levels. First, it has undeniable mass appeal. Each of Dumont's preposterous letters is an entertaining story involving one of his weird predicaments. All his letters are designed to hook the solicited lawyer into prostituting himself for huge non-refundable retainers, and this is made particularly funny because the book's reader is "in on" the joke. On this level, "How to Hook a Shyster" appeals to everyone but especially to readers outside of the highest educational strata who love to poke fun at a profession that still retains for many its "Perry Mason" mystique and economic prestige.

On a higher level, "How to Hook a Shyster", like Gulliver's Travels, uses humour to provoke thought on a serious matter. Dumont's letters don't directly criticise our legal system. Far from it. Dumont trusts the judicial process, and he respects lawyers who agree to champion his asinine causes. In this regard, the book doesn't threaten the reader with its author's own opinions. As a result, "How to Hook a Shyster" is capable of tickling out conclusions from a jurisprudential expert that he would resist making if challenged by a serious debate. Because the responses to Dumont's ridiculous letters are genuine, "How to Hook a Shyster" will, in a humorous way, fuel the debate about professional responsibility and the integrity of our legal system more than any joke book or satire ever could.

Finally, "How to Hook a Shyster" will also appeal to those who still have hope for our legal system. Although most of the reply letters included in the book were authored by greedy or stupid lawyers, a significant number were written by outraged professionals whose righteously indignant responses are unintentionally funny. However, some of the book's best letters were authored by lawyers who "got" the joke and wrote back with their own hilarious correspondence. The inclusion of these letters is important because they balance the book so that the reader understands that "How to Hook a Shyster" is not intended to be taken as an unrelenting, unreasonable "bash job" on the legal profession. "How to Hook a Shyster" might be the funniest (and most disconcerting) book that I've ever read. A must read! [by Michael Duffy]

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 Gut-busting Hilarious and Simultaneously Troubling

The guy who wrote this book must be a real piece of work. It is simultaneously witty, erudite, perverted and outrageous. Some lawyers faired well in responding to "Mr. Dumont's" preposterous letters, while many others took the bait hook, line and sinker and, in the process, exposed themselves as the worst of ambulance chasers. As a Florida attorney, I think "How to Hook a Shyster" should be required reading for law students in the field of professional ethics!

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   • Book Review: The Shyster's Daughter by Paula Priamos
   • Book Review: Hook and Peter by Doram Jacoby

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