Best-selling author John Grisham will deliver the commencement address during the 2007 School of Law Commencement exercises at Washington and Lee University on Saturday, May 12. Commencement will begin at 11:00 am on the lawn between the Colonnade and Lee Chapel (rain location: Warner Center). The event is open to the public.
"We are thrilled and honored that Mr. Grisham will be delivering our Commencement address", said 3L Class President Allison Langston, who along with 3L Vice-President Becca Stafford was responsible for arranging Grisham's visit. "What Mr. Grisham depicts so eloquently in each of his books is the very personal, and very human, struggle each attorney must face to use the law fairly and with integrity. The values he emphasizes in his books fit perfectly with those we hold dear at W&L."
Before writing such legal thrillers as The Pelican Brief and The Runaway Jury, Grisham worked 70 hour weeks at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his first novel, A Time to Kill. But it was the success of his second novel that launched his full-time writing career. The Firm, which was the best-selling novel of 1991, stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 47 weeks and was complimented by successful movie adaptation starring Tom Cruise.
Grisham took time off from writing in 1996 for a highly publicized return to the courtroom, honoring a commitment he made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer. Representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars, Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500—the biggest verdict of his career.
Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year, and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide. His novels have been translated into 29 languages, and nine of them have been turned into films.
When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised millions of dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children, Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia.