A Lawyer's Life

Johnnie Cochran with David Fisher

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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Johnnie Cochran has been a lawyer for almost forty years. In that time, he has taken on dozens of groundbreaking cases and emerged as a pivotal figure in race relations in America. Cochran gained international recognition as one of America's best—and most controversial—lawyers for leading the "Dream Team" defense of accused killer O. J. Simpson in the so-called Trial of the Century. Many people formed their perception of Cochran based on his work in that trial. But long before the Simpson trial, and since then, Cochran has been a leader in the fight for justice for all Americans.

Cochran emerged from that epochal courtroom drama as one of the nation's leading African American spokespersons, and he has done most of his talking, as it were, before the bench: Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, the racially-profiled New Jersey Turnpike Four, Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs, Patrick Dorismond, Cynthia Wiggins—these are the names that have dominated legal headlines, and Cochran was involved with each of them. No one who first encountered him during the Simpson trial can appreciate his impact on our world until they've read his whole story.

Drawing on Cochran's most intriguing and difficult cases, A Lawyer's Life shows how he's fought his critics, won for his clients, and affected real change within the system. This is an intimate and compelling memoir of one lawyer's attempt to make us all truly equal in the eyes of the law.


Praise for A Lawyer's Life

"At the book's heart is a compelling tale of four decades of standing up for victims of discrimination and of truly appalling police violence. Cochran has produced an engaging, anecdote-laden book that . . . leaves the reader with an increased respect for his life in the law."—The New York Times Book Review

"A Lawyer's Life provides the reader with a significant slice of Cochran's fascinating life."—The Orlando Sentinel

"Akin to memoirs by so-called legends of the law, such as Conrad Lynn's There Is a Fountain and William Kunstler's My Life as a Radical Lawyer . . . [Cochran] believes in justice and pursues it."—The Washington Post

"His name is one of the most recognized in legal annals and has become synonymous with justice for the 'man in the street.'"—Ebony

"[Cochran] ably explores the depth of racism in American society and the consequent difficulty of African Americans and members of other minority groups to find justice. In doing so, Cochran rises to impassioned eloquence—and Americans who do not know firsthand the truth of his arguments may well feel ashamed after reading this . . . Lawyers-in-training and close students of current events should find value in Cochran's pages."—Kirkus Reviews

"Cochran's experience gives him the authority to utter some uncomfortable truths, among them that justice is often reserved for the wealthy. Worse yet, he says, racism permeates the entire system, from the cop on the beat to the judge on the bench. Cochran musters case after case in support of these conclusions. This revelatory, often dismaying account provides a cogent explanation of why many African Americans have such a jaded view of our legal system . . . Although a fierce critic of the racism he sees in the legal system and among the L.A. police, Cochran says the common perception that he is anti-law enforcement is wrong; he began his career as a prosecutor, but he is on a mission to eradicate racism wherever he finds it. Long before the Simpson case, he made a name for himself by successfully bringing police brutality cases on behalf of African Americans like Barbara Deadwyler, whose husband was shot dead for no apparent reason while rushing his pregnant wife to the hospital. Cochran lost that early case and many others because, in his view, white juries refused to believe that police officers would lie under oath."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Johnnie Cochran with David Fisher

  • Johnnie Cochran was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1937. In 1963, he began his legal career in Los Angeles as a Deputy City Attorney for the city's criminal division. In addition to O.J. Simpson, Cochran's high profile clients have included Michael Jackson, Reginald Denny, Geronimo Pratt, Todd Bridges, Aretha Franklin, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dog, and Jim Brown. His autobiography, Journey to Justice, was a national bestseller.

    David Fisher is the author of more than a dozen bestselling books, among them Gracie, with George Burns; What's What, the first visual reference book; and the novel The War Magician. He has written extensively for national magazines and newspapers.

  • David Fisher


    Johnnie Cochran David Fisher

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