John Jay Osborn grew up in Marin County, California, and went to Harvard College and Harvard Law School. While in law school, he began his first novel, "The Paper Chase." The book came out in 1972, and was soon made into an Academy Award winning movie and then a television show that ran for six years. His third novel, "The Associates," was also made into a television show.
After law school, Osborn became a law professor at the University of Miami School of Law. With the success of The Paper Chase movie and television show, he left academia to work on a variety of television and film projects. Ultimately, he became disillusioned with this work, in part because it seemed shallow and in part because it left little time for writing his own fiction. He returned to teaching, and became a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law. His fifth novel, "Listen to the Marriage," was published in October of 2018.