Scott Turow '70 (view alumni profile)
Date of Birth
Place of Birth
June, 1978 JD, cum laude, Harvard Law School
June, 1974 MA, Creative Writing, Stanford University; Mirrielees Fellow
June, 1970 BA, magna cum laude, Amherst College; Phi Beta Kappa
June, 1966 Graduate, New Trier High School
Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
I went to a huge high school and liked the idea of a small college, which was reinforced when I read a novel by Bruce Jay Friedman in which one character was described as "a tough little guy from Bates." I thought I wouldn't mind being described that way. But I had no idea what Bates was. Once I found out, other schools suggested themselves, Amherst, Williams and Bowdoin among them. Standing on Memorial Hill sealed the deal. This was where I wanted to go, if they would have me.
Favorite (most memorable or most influential) class at Amherst:
Many candidates, including classes with Chickering, Demott and Sofield. But if I probably best understood Leo Marx's AmLit classes. He was a remarkable, passionate teacher.
Favorite (most memorable or most influential) professor:
Marx, David Sofield, and Tillie Olsen, my tutors during my year of independent study.
Awards and Prizes
Literary Awards & Honors
2008 Harold Washington Literary Award
2007 Raymond Chandler Award - Courmayeur Noir in Festival
2007 Illinois Author of the Year - Illinois Association of Teachers of English
2004 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Ultimate Punishment
2003 Heartland Prize in Fiction for Reversible Errors - Chicago Tribune Literary Award
1999 Best Work of Fiction of 1999, Time Magazine for Personal Injuries
2009 LL.D. (Hon.) Lake Forest College
2001 Lit.D. (Hon.) Northwestern University
2001 LL.D. (Hon.) Loyola University of Chicago
1998 LL.D. (Hon.) Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Legal and Civic Awards & Honors
2007 First Amendment Freedom Award, Anti Defamation League
2007 Jewish Council on Urban Affairs Jurisprudence Award for Social Justice
2006 Bill of Rights in Action Award, Constitutional Right Foundation of Chicago
2006 Herbert & Sara Ehrmann Award, Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty
2004 William H. Avery Award for Equal Access to Justice
2003 Chicagoan of the Year Chicago Magazine
2001 Distinguished Award for Excellence, Illinois Bar Foundation
2001 Hope Through Caring Award, Les Turner ALS Foundation
2000 Order of Lincoln Medallion Illinois’ highest award to its citizens
1999 Stardom Award for Commitment to Literacy, Literacy Chicago
Tips for aspiring writers?
write, write, write
Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author.
My dream was to be a novelist from the time I was 11 or 12 years old. After becoming a writing fellow at Stanford, I became a lecturer in the English Department, teaching Creative Writing to undergraduates. Teaching was simply a say to make a living and I decided to go to law school.
There were a couple of considerations. One, I’d concluded that I was not really cut out for academic life. This is no slam of people who are good at it, but I was just there for the paycheck.
Second, I was far more interested in the law than I expected. My father was a doctor, and as I say, he hated lawyers, long before it was fashionable for doctors. I had little exposure to law until my college roommates went to law school and started practice. By then I found that I was making friends with lawyers in San Francisco. It seemed that I was far more interested in law than academic English.
Scott Turow is a writer and attorney. He is the author of eight best-selling works of fiction, including his first novel, Presumed Innocent (1987) and the sequel, Innocent, published by Grand Central Publishing in May, 2010. He has also written two non-fiction books about his experiences in the law. Mr. Turow has been a partner in the Chicago office of Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal, a national law firm, since 1986, concentrating on white collar criminal defense, while also devoting a substantial part of his time to pro bono matters. He has served on a number of public bodies, including the Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment to recommend reforms to Illinois’ death penalty system, and was the first Chair of Illinois’ Executive Ethics Commission which was created in 2004 to regulate executive branch employees in the Illinois State government. He is also President of the Authors Guild, the nation’s largest membership organization of professional writers, and is currently a Trustee of Amherst College.