·Andrew Beckett: A handsome, self-assured hotshot law graduate from Penn is on a fast track to partnership at his lawfirm. But he's hiding a dark secret from his self-satisfied employers: he's HIV-positive. When he gets fired while battling AIDS he decides to bring suit. He is warmhearted and cares much for his family who - especially his lover Miguel and his mother Sarah - are extraordinarily supportive during the case. ·Joe Miller: At first he's reluctant to help him in suing Wyant, Wheeler mostly because of his bias' against gay people. He'd rather sue the city on behalf of people who have gone out of their way to bruise their ankles on municipal property than break new legal ground by equating workers with AIDS and those with other disabilities. But while Beckett and Miller prepare their case, they form a surprisingly deep bond and he starts seeing him as a fellow human worth of affection, compassion and respect. ·Belinda Conine: She is the counsel of Wyant and Wheeler and a senior lawyer of the firm and a quite attractive woman who is often underestimated by opponent counsels. She has an excellent reputation and is said to be a ruthless strategist, often using her femininity as a weapon. She seems to be the perfect choice for this case, as Andrew thinks. She is not fond of the case as it obviously is a forced deception. In fact she even hates it, as she tells her team in one part of the book. She knows her clients are lying to her but she continues to do her job despite of the compassion she feels for Andrew Beckett. "You don't bring your personal life into a law firm", as Andrew says during the case ·Charles Wheeler: He is the senior of the firm carrying part of his name. He is reluctant towards gay people and thinks they are all deviants who should be expelled and put as far away from society as possible.
The story involves Andrew Beckett, a skillful lawyer in the big Philadelphia law firm Wyant & Wheeler. The reader knows, although at first the law firm doesn't, that he has AIDS. Thus, he is forced to live a lie at work, claiming a Karposi's Sarcoma lesion as a bruise ('I got whacked in the head by a racket ball.") and even using his vacation time for visits to the hospital. One day while Charles Wheeler, one of the four senior partners, hands him a case involving one of the firm's most important clients. Soon, however, the appearance of Karposi's sarcoma lesions on Andrew's face make it clear that he has developed AIDS. Mr. Kenton, another senior partner, notices on Beckett's forehead a telltale spot which he associates with the sarcoma often accompanied with an outbreak of AIDS. Andrew thinks he is on the high point of his young career until the nightmarish day when a vital file concerning the case disappears mysteriously while he's at the hospital. Later, after the dust has settled, he is told that he doesn't have a future within the firm and is fired for incompetence. He suspects he's being fired for being sick - and he's right (Wheeler: "Andy brought AIDS into our offices - into our men's rooms!"). Beckett determines to take a stand and sue the law firm which proves harder than he expects. No one he asks is willing to take on his powerful and influential former employers except a local ambulance chaser named Joe Miller. At first, even he's is reluctant because he doesn't like homosexuals. But with time even they fall and they even form a surprisingly deep bond. After failed attempts of Wyant, Wheeler to settle the case outside the court and the deterioration of Andrew's health the case is brought to trial. From this point on most of the story in the movie falls into the courtroom. The main counselor of Wyant, Wheeler turns out to be a woman called Belinda Conine. Although she has no appetite for what is obviously a fraudulent defense (Conine whispers "I hate this case!" to a member of her team) she remains professional to keep her excellent...