Fictional Attorney of the Month: Rudy Baylor

In 1997, Francis Ford Coppola directed a cinematic version of John Grisham's novel, The Rainmaker. The all-star cast is led by Matt Damon as Rudy Baylor, a newly minted lawyer from Memphis who escaped a life of poverty and lands the case of a lifetime.

Rudy takes a job as an ambulance chaser--literally visiting victims in the hospital to try to get clients--before running into Deck Shifflet, played by Danny DeVito. Rudy finds an insurance case involving Donny Ray, a 22-year-old dying of leukemia whose claims had been denied. Deck helps him out, and the two take on a powerful insurance company and its suite of attorneys.

The film has a number of roles and smaller story lines that slowly intertwine in Rudy's development. It offers not simply a very realistic look at the hard life of a novice plaintiff's attorney scrapping for fringe cases and confronting a powerful and slippery defense team, but also the ethical and moral questions that a new attorney confronts in his own life and in the practice of law generally. It is not exactly an uplifting film for the young lawyer. But Rudy's tenacity, skill, and introspection are worth of thoughtful examination.