Last Updated on February 20, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1303
Schlichtmann walks into a bar and catches the eye of a woman named Teresa. Schlichtmann is beaming with pride, because he has just settled the Copley Plaza Hotel fire case for $2.5 million. Teresa sees him as “an ambulance chaser” and says he’s not a good fit for her, because her family is comprised of doctors. They chat about going to the Cape, and Schlichtmann reveals he has just purchased a new Porsche.
They spend most of that weekend together, and the narrator reveals that the couple spend the next two years together. Schlichtmann purchased countless luxurious gifts for Teresa as well as gifts with which to thank and congratulate his employees. Teresa feels he is egotistical yet generous and kind.
As a young man, Schlichtmann isn’t sure he wants to be a lawyer. But his father, seeing his gift of persuasion, pushes Schlichtmann to pursue a career in law. After obtaining a philosophy degree, he finds his place as the director of the ACLU’s Rhode Island branch. His first case involves nuns and mothers who are seeking welfare. The group wants to protest the governor’s cuts to welfare aid in the state. After being ejected and threatened with charges, Schlichtmann decides he will look at the case from a legal standpoint. Realizing the justice system is supposed to protect women like his clients, he has an epiphany where he recognizes he can do good things in this world as a lawyer. He starts law school at Cornell, ends his failing marriage, and wins the case for his female clients.
Schlichtmann gets an offer from one of his professors to work for him at the House Select Committee on Assassinations. He lasts nine months and quits, heading to New Hampshire with the dream of starting his own practice. Once he gets there, he realizes New Hampshire has enough lawyers. He ends up renting an apartment in downtown Newburyport instead and opens an office in his home. He hires a woman named Kathy Boyer as his secretary and builds his own in-home law library.
Schlichtmann is ready to forgo “country law,” but when a man named Lowell Eaton walks into his office, things change. Lowell lost his son years ago. His son fell into a gravel pit next-door to their home and drowned. The construction company covered up the evidence. After his current lawyer tells him to get over the death of his son, Lowell heads to Schlichtmann for help. Schlichtmann feels this case might be too difficult for him but decides to take it anyway. He researches, examines aerial pictures of the site, hires a doctor and civil engineer to testify, and prepares for his first big court case. In doing the work, he realizes this is what he is meant to do.
When Schlichtmann finally gets a court date, Liberty Mutual calls him to settle, but Schlichtmann has too much money riding on this case. The claims manager laughs at his misfortune and eagerly wants to see him lose in court.
During the trial, the judge calls both lawyers to the bench and tries to settle the case for seventy-five thousand dollars. Everyone agrees that this amount is way more than the case is worth and that Schlichtmann should take the settlement, but Schlichtmann rejects the offer. Whether by ignorance or sheer luck, Schlichtman wins the case with a $250,000 verdict, plus interest.
Schlichtmann, affirmed in his vocation as a lawyer, writes to three major Boston firms looking for jobs. While he searches, he receives a major case from a man who lost his wife in a plane crash. She and a few others were on a private flight to Atlantic City. The man feels the pilot, a local businessman, was reckless, causing the plane to crash. At the same time, Reed from Reed & Mulligan, the law firm representing the Woburn families, asks Schlichtmann to meet for lunch. Reed is representing the other two plane-crash victims’ families and wants to take...
(The entire section contains 1303 words.)
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