The Memorandum Reviews

An extraordinary and unreservedly recommended read

A kind of David vs. Goliath story of a major car company's deadly cover-up of their flawed automobile and a grieving family's struggle for justice against huge odds, "The Memorandum: A True Story of Justice Forged from Fire" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended read. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Memorandum" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781947779143, $18.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

A well-written and engrossing tale of a real-life legal battle.

Truly a legal champion

A gripping story of an inferno of family tragedy caused by greed, lies and deceit of a giant corporation covering up their callous disregard for the value of human life, and a lawyer’s unrelenting quest for truth and justice. As a lawyer, Bob Kelley was truly a legal champion. We applaud the family’s courageous decision to turn down a substantial settlement, and let the truth be publicly exposed in court and before the world. Justice was done!

Couldn't put it down

From the first page, I couldn’t put down The Memorandum, the shocking true story of a small law firm’s fight for truth and justice against General Motors and their army of unethical lawyers and executives. This book left me in awe and cheering for the good guys and their incredible courtroom victory in the face of insurmountable odds.

Inspirational and life-affirming

This compelling book is required reading for any true trial lawyer. It is an incredible testament to unswerving belief in a client’s cause and what it can take to slay a corporate giant. Bravo to Bob Kelley and his team for their work on behalf of their clients and for writing this truly inspirational and life-affirming book. I literally could not put it down and I read the entire book in one sitting.

There are only a few good trial lawyers who truly tilt the room when they walk in

There are a lot of good trial lawyers, but there are only a few who truly tilt the room when they walk in. When Bob Kelley enters a courtroom, the floor tilts. “The Memorandum” tells a true story of American justice, like a satisfying western where the good guys are left standing when the smoke clears, and the bad guys are on the ground after the final showdown.

Our weapons are our words, our strategy, our determination and capacity for love

As with most great story tellers, Bob Kelley opens The Memorandum with a vivid scene – terrifying and real. Compellingly, this comes from a real story. Trial lawyers are a rare breed. True Warriors. Our weapons are our words, our strategy, our determination and capacity for love. Willing to endure incredible hardship striving toward the most perfect of unions, actual, honest, perfect empathy. And we always fall short. Bob Kelley’s book shows why he has continued to lead as one of the greatest trial lawyers in America. Simply put, he is one of the best examples of why trial lawyers of his caliber matter more to America than perhaps at any other time in our history. I highly recommend this story to everyone who cares about our country, and to any lawyer who cares about not just his or her client, but about the very foundation of America.

The Bar should give continuing legal education credit to the reader

Master trial lawyer Bob Kelley of Fort Lauderdale shares with the reader the best reward of his profession: Making a difference in people’s shattered lives. Kelley chronicles his clients ill-fated family summer road trip that ended in an explosive fire to their station wagon taking the lives of their 13-year-old son and niece, and horribly burning them, their daughter and cousin in a freak low impact accident just outside of Norfolk, Virginia. The description of their deaths and injuries will haunt the reader. The mechanism, as discovered by Kelley in his meticulous case preparation, was the unprotected gas tank that exploded on impact. This tank could have been shielded at a cost of $4.50 to General Motors. The book details not just the case preparation and trial, but the formation of his partnership with the brilliant John Uustal, the tactics and seemingly overwhelming manpower of the GM legal team, insights into jury selection, Kelley’s marriages and family, the economic and emotional pressures on a trial lawyer, and the insanity and uncertainty of what we call “trials.” This book isn’t just a saga about a family’s redemption through a lawyer’s skill and effort, but Kelley’s insights ought to make this book required reading for trial lawyers at all stages of their careers. And frankly, the Florida Bar should give continuing legal education credit to the reader.

By giving us a glimpse behind the curtain, Kelley proves justice is possible.

In his thrilling courtroom drama, The Memorandum, attorney Robert W. Kelley shares his real-life tale of death, greed, perjury, and triumph. The pages crackle with suspense as Kelley, an accomplished trial lawyer, expertly employs simple but forceful prose to treat the reader to the harrowing twists and turns as one legal team seeking truth battles another fighting to hide it.

The book opens with what seems to be a typical fender bender – until a family watches in horror as the unthinkable happens, and a young child is engulfed in flames. The boy’s parents hire Kelley to sue the driver who caused the crash – and then the case truly explodes. One serendipitous night while Kelley is making dinner for his kids, he overhears a news segment about a case just like his.  Bells go off, and Kelley realizes an important angle may have been missed.  With the pedal to the metal and a full tank of gas, the reader is off to the races as Kelley’s courtroom adventures begin.

Right then I loved this book.  A trial lawyer willing to admit he may have overlooked a potential angle in the case, and then finding it by total happenstance? It makes me admire Bob Kelley even more than I have all these years.

But now, as you read further, you enter the hell of the American civil litigation system, with a small law firm pitted against what Kelley describes as the endless resources of a corporation desperate to keep its secrets hidden.  The reader gets a first-hand view of Kelley and his co-counsel exemplifying the best of the American justice system, just as their adversaries seem to reflect the worst.

To say Kelley and his legal team worked hard would be a gross understatement: we are talking thousands of hours combing through truckloads of documents, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money to pay for experts and trips across the country for weeks of witness interviews. They give everything they have in the pursuit of justice – and I mean everything, and then some.

(Note to reader: Bob Kelley’s quest was not about money or fame, it was about learning and exposing the truth. I won’t spoil this part by revealing why I know that – you will have to read the book to find out.)

The Memorandum reminds me of Jonathan Harr’s A Civil Action, another true tale in which a lawyer fights beyond obsession for his clients, but loses big, goes broke, and almost goes crazy. But not Bob Kelley. He crushes his opponents, wins big, gets worldwide headlines, and earns peace and closure for his clients.  

The real suspense—and the true agita of this book—is Kelley’s description of his struggle to prove the vast amount of obfuscation, lying, deceit, and fraud one company was willing to commit for pecuniary gain. It’s hard to stomach, but by giving us a glimpse behind the curtain, Kelley proves justice is possible. (And you’ll be elated when justice is finally achieved.)

In Bob Kelley’s The Memorandum, you will learn how the system really works, what to expect if you take on the big corporations, and how to do it – and you’ll learn some invaluable lessons in trial work and life along the way.

On a personal note, I ordered copies for all our firm’s lawyers and paralegals. It’s that good.

How one lawyer can make a difference

The Memorandum is a captivating true story of David v. Goliath and how one lawyer can, and did, make a difference.

I started to cry more than once

The child, the fire, the trial. I started to cry more than once. Great books tend to have that effect on the reader. The work of a trial lawyer, and the workings of a trial, were perfectly described. This book is fantastic. I love it. The book should be read by all.

A great read for young lawyers looking for a model

Bob Kelley has done what almost no lawyer-authors have. The Memorandum captures more than the engrossing thrill of the strategic mapping, planning, and execution of a case that caught one of the biggest corporate criminals of our time. It goes deeper to describe the real life gritty and relentless dives into haystacks that frequently have no needles at all, that always underpin heroic outcomes like this. The result is a great read for young lawyers looking for a model, old lawyers looking for re-invigoration, and non-lawyers who must sometimes wonder why we make the sacrifices we do for our clients.

A powerful indictment of corporate arrogance, greed, and duplicity

The Memorandum is a powerful indictment of corporate arrogance, greed, and duplicity. It highlights the pernicious calculations sometimes made by multinational corporations that undervalue human life and serves as a stark reminder that it takes a true champion to fight power in the search for fairness and truth. Most importantly, Kelley captures the story of his clients with respect and reverence for the jury system, which sits at the heart of justice in America. I read the entire book in a single sitting!

A riveting story of grit, determination and courage

The Memorandum is a riveting story of grit, determination and courage, a David versus Goliath triumph, and a testament to the power of the U.S. legal system where all stand equal before the law. Bob Kelley reminds us that trial work is much more than what takes place in the courtroom. It’s grinding, difficult, and sometimes frustrating. It takes will, sacrifice and determination, especially when faced with an adversary with the resources of a major U.S. corporation that has legions of lawyers and an amoral disregard for any truth that threatens its money.

A rare perspective from a career pursuit of justice

The Memorandum is a brilliant unprecedented exposure of the pain and humanity experienced in catastrophic personal injury litigation. Bob Kelley craft fully shares with his readers a rare perspective from a career pursuit of justice.

A mystery solved by great lawyering

Bob Kelley, like Batman with his band of Robins, pursues General Motors and reveals its unrelenting efforts to hide the truth from a family whose son was burned alive. Fast moving, gripping, a mystery solved by great lawyering. The Memorandum makes the search for the truth come alive and spins a saga with insight into the legal processes. The participants are portrayed with sensitivity; the good and bad revealed with grace and without arrogance. Informative, easy to read, a worthwhile story, well told.

A roller-coaster ride through the pretrial and trial process

Exceptional trial lawyers are exceptional story tellers. Bob Kelley’s “The Memorandum” is an example of both! His book takes the reader not only on the journey of his clients but on a roller-coaster ride through the pretrial and trial process that these kinds of product liability cases become. This lawyer’s tale provides not only a glimpse of the legal process, sometimes at its best and worst, and the personal tragedy of his clients, but also a cautionary morality play of what can happen when corporate greed and power and ego lead to lies, and bigger lies and then the biggest lie – the memorandum! I am assigning it to all of my civil procedure students as recommended reading.

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