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Scott F. Turow Edit Profile

Lawyer , writer

Scott Frederick Turow is an American author and a practicing lawyer. Turow has written eight fiction and two nonfiction books, which have been translated into over 20 languages and have sold over 25 million copies. Movies have been based on several of his books.


Turow was born in April 12, 1949 in Chicago, to a family of Russian Jewish descent.


He graduated with high honors from Amherst College in 1970. He was Edith Mirrielees Fellow at Stanford University Creative Writing Center from 1970 - 1972. From 1972 - 1975, Mr. Turow taught Creative Writing at Stanford as E. H. Jones Lecturer. In 1975, he entered Harvard Law School and graduated with honors in 1978.


From 1978 - 1986, he was an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago and served as lead counsel in a number of prosecutions related to corruption in the legal profession connected to Operation Greylord, a federal investigation of corruption into the Illinois judiciary.

After leaving the U.S. Attorney's office, Turow became a novelist, writing legal thrillers such as The Burden of Proof, Presumed Innocent, Pleading Guilty, and Personal Injuries, which Time magazine named as the Best Fiction Novel of 1999. All four became bestsellers, and Turow won multiple literary awards, most notably the Silver Dagger Award of the British Crime Writers. Many of the characters appear in multiple books, and all of his novels take place in Kindle County. (The state is unspecified, but the county contains a tri-city conglomerate on the Mississippi between Chicago and New Orleans ; compare the "Quad Cities" on the Mississippi, originally Davenport IA, Rock Island IL, Moline IL, and East Moline IL, but now also including Bettendorf IA.) In 1990, Turow was featured on the June 11 cover of Time, which described him as "Bard of the Litigious Age". In 1995, Canadian author Derek Lundy published a biography of Turow, entitled Scott Turow: Meeting the Enemy (ECW Press, 1995). In the 1990s a British publisher bracketed Turow’s work with that of Margaret Atwood and John Irving, republished in the series Bloomsbury Modern Library.

Turow was elected the president of the Authors Guild in 2010 and was previously president from 1997 to 1998.

From 1997 to 1998 Turow was a member of the U.S. Senate Nominations Commission for the Northern District of Illinois, which recommends federal judicial appointments. In 2011, Turow met with Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig to discuss political reform including a possible Second Constitution of the United States; according to one source, Turow saw risks with having such a convention, but believed that it may be the "only alternative" given how campaign money has undermined the one-man-one-vote principle of democracy.

Turow is a partner of the international law firm SNR Denton having been a partner of one of its constituents, the Chicago law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Turow works pro bono in most of his cases, including a 1995 case where he won the release of Alejandro Hernandez, who had spent 11 years on death row for a murder he did not commit. He was also appointed to the commission considering the reform of the Illinois death penalty by former Governor George Ryan and is currently a member of the Illinois State Police Merit Board.


  • Fiction

    • Presumed Innocent, 1987

    • The Burden of Proof, 1990

    • Pleading Guilty, 1993

    • The Laws of Our Fathers, 1996

    • Guilty As Charged, 1996 (as editor)

    • Personal Injuries, 1999

    • Reversible Errors, 2002

    • Ordinary Heroes, 2005

    • Limitations, 2006

    • The Best American Mystery Stories, 2006 (as editor)

    • Innocent, 2010

  • Film

    • Presumed Innocent, 1990

    • The Burden of Proof, 1992

    • Reversible Errors, 2004

  • Non-fiction book

    • One L, 1977

    • Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer's Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty, 2003


He served as one of the fourteen members of the Commission appointed in March, 2000, by Illinois Governor George Ryan to consider reform of the capital punishment system.


  • Chicago Council Lawyers

  • Chicago Bar Association


  • Other Interests

    He performs with the Rock Bottom Remainders, a musical group of best seller authors raising funds for various literacy charities. As Dave Barry puts it: "We play music about as well as Metallica writes novels."

    active in a number of charitable