Creative works by lawyers
Write what you know.
That’s what literary experts tell newbies. Some-
times it works out. John Grisham hasn’t done badly
parlaying his legal expertise into best-sellers.
Same for other lawyers-turned-writers, including
Steve Martini (whose alter ego, Paul Madriani,
brings murderers to justice), Scott Turow, Lisa
Scottoline, David Baldacci, and Erle Stanley Gard-
ner of Perry Mason fame.
But Sacramento employment and labor attorney
Anthony Perez approached writing his first novel
the same way he steered his career—by making his
Second Wind, published in 2006, tells the story
of a group of men who handle their mid-life crises
by chasing a dream of competing in the Olympics in
rowing. Central characters include a doctor, a real
estate tycoon, a pub owner and a former Olympian.
Yeah, no lawyers. “What I was looking for at the
time was a way to escape,” Perez explains. Writing
a novel about friends training for the U.S. rowing
team at the 1990 Barcelona games fit the bill.
In his career, he bypassed the usual first step for
young lawyers by starting a solo practice shortly
after passing the Bar.
Like the hero of many a good novel, Perez has a
“I had to sell my car to pay for my experts,” he
tendency to take on David-and-Goliath causes—
wage-and-hour class actions, sexual harassment,
and discrimination involving race, gender, age and
disability. Representing whistleblowers, he says,
“makes me feel like I’m living in a thriller novel.”
In his first year of practice, he sued a U.S. Air
Force medical center over denied medical care for a
woman who was once an officer, then left the mili-
tary but was still a dependent through her husband.
says. The case settled, with a lump sum and annu-
ity for life for his client.
Perhaps his biggest effort was representing state workers who sued the California State
Board of Equalization, claiming the 24-story
building in downtown Sacramento was a health
hazard. More than 2,200 people worked in the
building, which was plagued by mold, pipes that
burst, windows that fell out of their frames—
endangering people passing on the sidewalk—and
a heating system so out of whack the employees
had to wear coats at their desks.
A lawsuit alleging toxic mold was filed
in 2007. After extensive litigation, the state
Anthony M. Perez Jr.
LAW OFFICE OF
ANTHONY M. PEREZ JR.
A Novel Idea (or Two)
Anthony Perez, author of Second Wind, finds his second wind BY G.K. SHARMAN
settled confidentially with 31 claimants. Perez’s
team designated the leftover $37,784 to go to
Sacramento’s CASA, which works with kids in
the foster system. There are about 10 remaining
cases, which Perez plans to try next year.
In addition to being a lawyer and writer, Perez
has played the role of single dad to three daughters.
One is now an attorney in Sacramento, one is a
software executive in Atlanta, and the youngest is a
premed student at the University of Washington.
Perez believes he’s more of a lawyer than a writer.
“It’s a real challenge,” he says of writing. “I have
“None of the characters are anybody I know,” he
a lot of respect for Baldacci and other prolific guys
who turn out all those books.”
That said, Perez is already at work on a second
novel, and this time, the topic is closer to home. It’s
a legal/political thriller about a federal attorney
whose client discloses confidential information and
is later killed. The attorney pursues the disclosures
all the way to the White House.
says. He hopes to publish by the end of next year.
Either way, it won’t usurp his day job. “I still
honestly love practicing law,” he says. “I still look
forward to Mondays.”
Second Wind was released
in 2006 by Trafford Publishing.