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A Novel Idea

The pseudonymous Will Nathan wrote a book about lawyers with no moral limits

Published in 2007 Northern California Super Lawyers magazine

Under the pseudonym Will Nathan (rumored to be William McGrane) and the protection of Hustler v. Falwell, a San Francisco lawyer published Book of Business: A Novel of the Law, a glimpse into the dark world of high-stakes civil litigation. His book shines an unflattering light onto “vicious” attorneys whose careers are driven by money, sex and pride. To guard the author from those who sue best, his publisher, the Philadelphian Press, bought $3 million of MediaPro Insurance before the book hit shelves in January 2007.

“I’m writing about lawyers at the top of the food chain,” Nathan says. “They are very dangerously litigious people. … It’s a sharp stick in the hornet’s nest.”

Representing a foreign dictator worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the protagonist eventually flees the country before a legal scandal disbars him. Unlike the fictional villain, “the people on whom the main character is based are still practicing in San Francisco and doing great,” Nathan says.

Like all great novels, the author drew upon his own life for literary inspiration. “I’m not claiming to be any more meritorious than the characters in this book,” says Nathan, who had a former job repossessing cars in Harlem. “I share the willingness to represent people who aren’t so nice. I’m inside the circle.”  

To promote the book, Nathan sent 7,000 copies to law firms and law school faculty, and had a congressman friend share it with the judiciary committee. It’s sold on and can be found at San Francisco independent bookstores City Lights, Book Passage, Cody’s and Green Apple.

“The book is an attempt to deal with business law on the same level of realism that criminal law is dealt with in so many novels,” he says. “People find large sums of money interesting.” 

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