August 16, 2021 | Library Journal
In this engaging work, lawyer Vogel recounts her battle against Farmers Home Administration (FHA) that began with representing a group of local plaintiffs and morphed into a national class action lawsuit involving the ACLU. Vogel had occupied several prestigious positions after law school when she decided to move back to North Dakota in the early 1980s. There she stumbled across unfair practices by the FHA, the U.S. agriculture agency that extended credit and gave loans and grants to individual farmers and low-income rural American. She learned that the FHA was freezing personal accounts of farmers when their loans lapsed, without offering the deferral they were legally entitled to. Hundreds of farmers began calling Vogel at all hours of the day, hoping for legal assistance. Vogel eventually filed a class-action suit on behalf of 240,000 farmers, Coleman v. Block, whose result was preventing tens of thousands of farm foreclosures. Vogel’s memoir approaches the case with a sense of history, giving in-depth insight on what happened within the farming community and the procedures and institutions put in place to prevent it from happening again. She recounts the personal stories of her plaintiffs with heart and discusses her own involvement as a non-trial lawyer with self-deprecating humor while also showing her intense dedication to her clients.
VERDICT An enjoyable true-life legal drama on par with Erin Brockovich. Vogel uses only the occasional legalese, and her story will appeal to readers who enjoy a good underdog legal story.