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Vote for this year’s legal fiction award

The ABA Journal and the University of Alabama Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law  have named three finalists for the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction – and readers can now vote to help select the winner.

The books nominated for the ninth annual award are:

  • “The Boat People” by Sharon Bala
  • “Class Action” by Steven B. Frank
  • “The Widows of Malabar Hill” by Sujata Massey.

“This year’s Harper Lee Prize was particularly difficult to judge,” said Molly McDonough, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal. “The finalists represent the diversity of this year’s submissions, from a novel about Sri Lankan refugees seeking a new start to the story of a trailblazing woman lawyer fighting for her clients in 1920s India and finally a charming middle school book featuring a spunky student who goes to court after he’s suspended for protesting homework.”

The prize, previously authorized by the late Lee, is given to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change. Nine years ago, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and to honor former University of Alabama law student Lee, the law school and the ABA Journal partnered to establish the recognition.

There were 25 entries this year and a team of reviewers chose three nominees for the selection committee’s consideration. The public is the sixth judge, contributing a vote equal in weight to the committee members.


Voting closes June 30 at 11:59 p.m. Central.

The 2019 selection committee members are: Robert Barnes, U.S. Supreme Court reporter, The Washington Post; Steven Hobbs, Tom Bevill Chairholder of Law, UA’s Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law; Claire Matturro, alumna, UA’s Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law; Utz McKnight, chair of the department of gender and race studies and professor of political science, UA; and Gin Phillips, author, “Fierce Kingdom.”

The Harper Lee Prize will be awarded at an August 29 ceremony in conjunction with the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The winner receives a signed copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” 

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