The office of the public defender is not known as a training ground for bright young litigators. Clay Carter feels that his career has stopped and dreams of a better job in a successful firm. When he reluctantly takes the case of a young man charged with a random street killing, he assumes it is just another one of the senseless murders that hit D.C. every week.
But when he gets to know the background of his client, Clay stumbles on a conspiracy too horrible to believe. He suddenly has the chance to file a claim to a powerful pharmaceutical company, to get rich, and to insure himself a future as a king of torts.