Jake Lassiter

Created by Paul Levine

“The past clings to me like mud on rusty cleats”
— Jake looks back, in Bum Deal

After graduating from the Penn State University, JAKE LASSITER went on to a short and not exactly stellar pro football career as a second string linebacker for the Miami Dolphins. Encouraged by a cheerleader (and future mob wife), he attended law school. After squeaking through, he was hired by a Miami firm, mostly because of the novelty of being the best former pro football player practicing law in town.

A hard-core wind surfer and fisherman, Jake has a problem with authority. He frequently squares off in court against a colourful assortment of lawyers from the Dade County ‘s DA’s office. His gram, a moonshine-producing environmental rights activist, raised him. His sidekick is sixty-something retired coroner and practitioner of Latin, Dr. Charlie Rigs. Who may or may not have something going on with Lassiter’s grandmother. His Harley-riding, hair colour-changing secretary’s one-liners keep his ego in check–as does his ability to almost fall in love and get dumped.

Jake’s not an ambulance chaser by any stretch, but given the shadiness of his clientele, his liberal code of conduct, and his own often-imaginative interpretation of the law, sainthood is out of the question. And sometimes, well, he just rubs people the wrong way. As he puts it, “I’m a beer and burger guy in a quiche and white wine world.”

Maybe, but he’s also a guy living in our world; not just some jock fantasy. By the twelfth book in the series, Bum Luck (2017), his football past–chocked as it was with brutal hits–is catching up with him, as he appears to be experiencing symptoms of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).

By the fourteenth and final entry in the series, 2022’s Early Grave, there was no doubt. Jake is definitely battling CTE, and the chickens have come home to roost in heartbreaking fashion. Jake’s own godson Rod, a promising high school football player, suffers major injuries during a game, and the brain-damaged lawyer promptly becomes Florida’s Public Enemy Number One, when he launches a legal battle that may end high school football in the state. I don’t think I’ve read a more scathing indictment of the sport since Jonathan Valin’s Life’s Work.


The Lassiter series has developed a strong following, and the series has proved to be remarkably resilient. There was even a TV pilot made (alas, unsuccessfully), with Gerald McRaney woefully miscast as Jake. Remember now, Jake’s a man who supposedly played professional football. As a linebacker, no less. Sure, McRaney was the Simon brother who could “fight,” but pro football?

I don’t think so.


  • “Paul Levine is guilty of master storytelling in the first degree…. lawyer Jake Lassiter keeps you guessing, smiling, and turning the pages as fast as you can.”
    — Carl Hiaasen



    (1995, NBC)
    Originally aired January 9, 1995
    Based on characters created by Paul Levine
    Teleplay by Paul Levine
    Directed by Peter Markle
    A Stephen J. Cannell Production
    Starring Gerald McRaney as JAKE LASSITER
    Also starring James Sikking, Tracy Scoggins, Daphne Ashbrook, Robert Loggia


Report respectfully submitted by Beeper and Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Bluefox808 for the word to the wise.

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