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The fall television season is in full swing with new legal comedies and dramas like Grinder (Rob Lowe/ABC) and Hand of God (Ron Perlman/Amazon) and popular returning programs like The Good Wife (Julianna Margulies, CBS) and How to Get Away with Murder (Viola Davis/ABC). The law like medicine is most certainly a reoccurring theme on both the small and big screen. There have been numerous “Top 10” lists created for the “Best Legal Movies” and the “Best Legal Dramas” over the years. Earlier this year, the ABA recognized its 100th anniversary by analyzing the top legal films during the past century. We seem to become engrossed in the depiction of the actors within our legal system from judges to attorneys to law enforcement. While most programs play fast and loose with the realities of the legal system (Boston Legal), some are more closely connected to the truth (The Good Wife).
As a legal professional, do you enjoy watching television programs that depict our legal system? What programs do you find most intriguing? Are there any programs that accurately represent our legal system? Overall, do you think shows that revolve around our legal system have a positive or negative impact on the profession?
Hate it. Completely obliterates what being a lawyer really is .... entertaining, but not an accurate depiction. I think "How To Get Away With Murder" is bad for our profession.
I think that they have a negative view on the profession. No one sees all the hard work that goes in behind the scenes to get a case to trial, and they also believe the the process should only take an hour to complete.
Negative impact - not only does it misrepresent lawyers but it also taints potential juries and verdicts with sensationalized entertainment that creates expectations that does not always translate in real life.
My practice is nowhere near as exciting as depicted on the screen. I frankly think shoddy commercials from practicing attorneys do more harm than t.v. or movies do.
I think an overall positive impact. It helps recruit future generations of lawyers. Although the recruitment is generally misleading.
That show in particular, and most of the legal shows are terrible. They are so inaccurate, and are part of the reason clients have unrealistic expectations about our performance. There are no surprise witnesses, no ridiculous speaking objections and no courtroom dramas. When I am forced to watch these shows I use them as a refresher course on the rules of evidence and make my own objections/oral motions to the improper testimony.
I don't watch any legal shows. Haven't ever really been interested. The areas of law that interest me likely wouldn't translate to TV or film too well.
I don't need to watch or enjoy legal dramas because I tend to get frustrated with their unrealistic portrayal of the legal profession. The public, our clients, our friends and family all get the impression that we are fabulously wealthy and powerful, we wear expensive suits and drive fancy cars, and that we make eloquent speeches and always win, with little preparation. In reality, most of us spend way more time doing less glamorous things, spending lots of time in preparation, and worrying about things that most business owners worry about like employees, attracting new business and customer service.
I would say the legal dramas have a pretty positive impact on our profession. Typically the good guy gets off and the bad guy goes to jail, thanks to people who are witty and pretty, all in the matter of an hour. Unfortunately, the dramas are so far off base as to what actually happens that when a client actually gets to court (after two years of waiting) they are completely underwhelmed, and sometimes even bored.
Honestly I have never appreciated shows based on lawyers. For one many of the lawyer shows about civil law firms have them handling everything from criminal matters to immigration to high stakes corporate or constitutional law matters, most of the shows have court room scenes with monologues or surprise witnesses, or arguments based on morality (but not the facts or the law). Further these shows tend to move cases at breakneck speed from initial meeting to trial. I think these shows generally are harmful to the profession because they create an unrealistic view of how a case is worked and the reality of going to court.
I did get influenced by LA Law back in the day...I didn't see myself as the litigator, but could related to "Stuart," the tax/transactional guy. Probably overall a mixed bag, showing the bad decisions attorneys make (making us look bad), but it can also provide a role model for some.
I find them entertaining, and as long as people realize that's all it is - entertainment - that's fine. But they definitely over-glamorize the legal profession and make people think that we are all trial lawyers. The vast majority of lawyers are not in the courtroom everyday.
I tend to avoid legal shows, but my wife likes Scandal, so she convinced me to watch the showrunner's other show, How To Get Away With Murder. The practice of law on that show has no relation to the actual practice of law.
When I was a younger lawyer, I hated it and rarely watched anything legal on TV. So many inaccuracies, so little time to waste on TV. Sixteen years of practice later, I've mellowed. The horrible mistakes Hollywood continues to make don't bother me so much. That said, I still don't watch many legal dramas...I think it's like police officers watching police dramas, doctors watching hospital dramas, CIA employees watching spy dramas. Perhaps reality doesn't make for good TV, but it is good enough for my life. :)
We follow the good wife. Whether or not the depiction of our practice is accurate does not bother me in the least.