Skip to main content

Proof Wins 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

July 24, 2018

The University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal announced that C. E. Tobisman, author of Proof, will receive the 2018 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Tobisman is the eighth winner of the Prize. The award, authorized by 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.

“I am honored, humbled, and frankly, totally stunned,” Tobisman said. “The spirit of To Kill a Mockingbird is the spirit of one person’s ability to make the world a little more fair. That the selection committee saw that spirit in my book is something that I will treasure forever.”

Eight years ago, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and to honor former law student and author Harper Lee, the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal partnered to create the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

Proof was chosen by a distinguished panel of writers and scholars. They are: Dr. Hilary Green, Assistant Professor of History in the Department of Gender and Race Studies at The University of Alabama; Jini Koh, Attorney and University of Alabama School of Law Graduate; Tony Mauro, U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for and The National Law Journal; and Dr. Sena Jeter Naslund, Author, Co-founder and former Program Director of the Spalding University MFA in Writing.

The Selection Committee praised the novel for advancing Lee’s legacy and her charge to award legal fiction that shows how lawyers can change society.

Proof best captures the spirit of iconic characters, role of the legal profession in addressing social issues, and the concluding legal monologue of To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman,” Green said. “Caroline Auden is the perfect cross between lawyer Atticus Finch and the grown up Scout.”

Mauro added: “C. E. Tobisman’s Proof proves that a true page-turner can also have substance. The main character is Caroline Auden, a Los Angeles solo practitioner who takes on elder abuse and corporate skullduggery with quick-witted determination. In the tradition of Harper Lee, Tobisman shows that lawyers can effect societal change.”

Tobisman will be honored with a signed special edition of To Kill a Mockingbird. The 2018 prize will be awarded at the Library of Congress in conjunction with the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. After the award is presented, the Selection Committee will discuss Tobisman’s Proof in relation to Lee’s work.

“It’s exciting see to this award go to a practicing attorney who’s relatively new to the fiction scene,” said Molly McDonough, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal. “We also love seeing attention being drawn to the important field of elder law. We look forward to seeing what Cindy Tobisman will bring to the genre of legal fiction.”

About C. E. Tobisman

Tobisman has published two novels featuring hacker-turned-lawyer Caroline Auden. Her first book, “Doubt,” was published in 2016, and the sequel, “Proof,” was released in 2017, both by Thomas & Mercer. Tobisman has bachelor’s and J.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to authoring legal thrillers, she’s an appellate attorney in Los Angeles.

The University of Alabama School of Law strives to remain neutral on issues of public policy. The Law School’s communications team may facilitate interviews or share opinions expressed by faculty, staff, students, or other individuals regarding policy matters. However, those opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Law School, the University, or affiliated leadership.