Writing legal thrillers would kill my career.
I swallowed this fear for years, keeping it deep inside.
After I left the law, I wrote contemporary fiction — women’s fiction with elements of suspense. A political thriller. Book Club fiction. My books had disgruntled lawyers appearing predictably and exiting just as quickly. But I stayed far, far away from legal thrillers.
At book events and writing conferences, readers and fellow writers would ask me: “Why don’t you write legal thrillers? You were a lawyer for so long! You must have so many stories!”
I would shrug them off with a smile and a charming response: “Oh no, I didn’t practice the sexy kind of law of John Grisham novels. I was a corporate litigator. Besides, PTSD is real. Who wants to write about those years? Next question?”
But deep inside, I knew: Writing legal thrillers would kill my career.
My legal career, that is. And the truth was: I wasn’t exactly ready to close the book on that chapter of my life.
I started my legal career in Washington D.C. at the Vaccine Court of the Court of Federal Claims. It was a challenging and exciting time. And then I moved to the New York area where I practiced for the next thirteen years. They were exhilarating and challenging years. I worked on high profile cases alongside lawyers who were featured in the headlines and feature films.
I saw things. I heard things.
I practiced law and I loved it for a long time until I didn’t. I burned out.
In 2010, I took a sabbatical from the law, and it was during that time that I reconnected with my first love: writing. I worked on a story for many years of a woman at a crossroad in her life. The story of a woman trying to figure out if every decision she’d made up until that time had led her down the wrong road. It was a journey of self-discovery that mirrored the one I was making in life. The book ended with a very ambiguous ending — not surprisingly — since I was still trying to figure out in life where my own next chapter was headed.
In 2020, after publishing five contemporary fiction novels and one non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted, I signed a contract to publish my second non-fiction book titled: How To Leave The Law. This new non-fiction book, co-authored with my friend, Liz Brown, is about the versatility of the law degree, about using your JD for good, and about leaving the law. Once I made that decision for myself — for good — my imagination was free to roam into the world of legal thriller writing.
I realized that I could take what I had seen and heard and experienced in the world of New York City Big Law and make it the stuff of incredible stories. And thus, the Riversedge Law Club Series was born. A world grounded in a fictional town where back door politics and secret deals are more important to the New York scene than the courtroom decisions.
Hey. Just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean it’s not true.
And now that I’m never going back to the practice of law, I don’t care if this series kills my legal career.
I’m a writer now, and that’s the only career I want to survive.
Readers, do you think you’d have to quit if you wrote a book about your profession?
Amy Impellizzeri is a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive, award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction, and host of the Speak Studio original podcast, I Know How This (Book) Ends. Amy’s novels have earned awards and recognition including INDIEFAB Book of the Year awards, the inaugural Francis Ford Coppola Book & Bottles Pick, National Indie Excellence Awards and more. Amy’s newest legal drama series, THE RIVERSEDGE LAW CLUB SERIES, is available now. In a STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus Reviews compares the new series to Big Little Lies and calls it “crackling courtroom drama.” Amy is a Tall Poppy Writer, a past President of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, a 2018 Writer-In-Residence at Ms-JD.org, recipient of Ms. JD’s Road Less Traveled Award, a faculty member in Drexel University’s MFA in Creative Writing program, and a frequently invited speaker at legal conferences and writing workshops. Connect with Amy at www.AmyImpellizzeri.com.