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Lawyer on Lawyers. On Lawyers There’s no shortage of courtroom novels penned by actual attorneys at law. It’s not surprising that an attorney has now come out with the logical next step in the phenomenon: a book about lawyers that write books about lawyers. “Their Word Is Law,” published this month by Penguin Putnam, is a collection of interviews with some of the legal-fiction genre’s heavy-hitters. John Grisham, Scott Turow and Steve Martini are all here, sounding off on everything from the secrets of their craft to the real-life cases that inspired some of their stories. The book is the work of Stephen Murphy, a San Francisco personal injury and employment solo and a legal-thriller aficionado. Murphy began interviewing the authors 14 years ago and published the transcripts in the San Francisco Bar Association’s magazine, San Francisco Attorney. “I thought it would be nice to have them all collected in one place,” said Murphy. He predicts that the book will appeal to both legal-thriller fans and lawyers in general. “Even lawyers who don’t read them regularly, I think would be interested.” — Alexei Oreskovic Litigator Practices the Shaolin School of Law It started out as a favor for his little girl. When Chris Graham’s daughter was 5 years old, she asked him to take kung fu lessons with her. While she eventually moved on to dancing classes, Graham stuck with martial arts. A partner at Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly’s Palo Alto, Calif., office, Graham said the experience has changed his life and helped him in his work as a litigator. “The principles we learn in litigation and martial arts are similar,” Graham said. “Both require effort, etiquette, self-control, sincerity and character.” The physical and mental discipline required in martial arts also helps in litigation, “where emotions tend to be high,” he said. Graham reached a major step in his training earlier this month when he received his black belt. The 6 1/2-hour test concluded with full contact sparring matches. “The idea is to exhaust you physically and mentally for five or six hours before sparring,” Graham said. “Because you can’t chose in life when you’re going to have to fight and how you will react when you’re tired and befuddled.” Graham studies Shaolin Kung Fu at United Studios of Self Defense under Professor Charles Mattera. The style gained fame in the 1970s TV show “Kung Fu,” featuring David Carradine and set in the renowned Shaolin Temple in China. Graham’s school has a connection to the temple since the abbott of the temple adopted Mattera as a disciple. Graham said the big stones paving the temple courtyard are worn from centuries of students practicing on them. Walking through the temple, “you realize you have respect for those who’ve gone before you and for those who will come after you,” he said. “That’s true in martial arts as well as the legal profession.” – Brenda Sandburg

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