ATL Idol, Movies, Reader Polls, Television

Which Legal Fiction Makes Your Life Worse?

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the “reality blogging” competition that will determine ATL’s next editor. It is marked with Sophist’s avatar (at right).]
Why does my television constantly tell me that being an attorney is: glamorous, “fun,” and yet so easy that any idiot can do it? I caught a preview for TNT’s new lawyer show, Raising the Bar, and, after my seizure, I realized that dramatic license has gone too far.

So, with a nod to the Coolest Law Firm bracket, I bring you the “Lionel Hutz Invitational.” Which of the following characters has done the most to mislead our friends and family about the true nature of our profession? Let’s keep it to characters created after 1990, so the kids can play along.Today, I’ll start with the quarterfinals, I’ll update the progress on Thursday, and on Friday we’ll vote on the finalists. But I sense how much ATL readers love to write in candidates, so please comment on the fictional donkeys that didn’t make my cut (I cannot watch Eli Stone or Shark). Perhaps I will run my own “shadow poll” based on the most popular write-in choices.

See the field after the jump.


1. Jack McCoy (Law and Order) v. 8. Bobby Donnell (The Practice)
It’s the fascist versus the bleeding heart. Jack perpetuates the myth that murderers will take the witness stand, and then promptly crumble because they’ve been prepped by buffoons. Most egregiously, Jack violates a cardinal rule of trial litigation by constantly asking questions to which he does not already know the answer. His crosses aren’t scripted, but his comebacks always are. Meanwhile, Bobby’s theory of criminal defense involves boning the prosecutor and blaming someone else for the crime without any evidence. It works because every criminal defendant is, of course, innocent.
4. Michael Clayton (Michael Clayton) v. 5 Vincent Gambini (My Cousin Vinny)
A 17th year associate? Not a junior partner, not “of counsel,” but an 17th year associate? I get the concept of a very senior associate, but if you have a 17th year associate at your firm, isn’t (s)he locked in the basement with a red stapler on their desk? At least Clayton’s lexicon isn’t limited to “Yo” and “fuggedabouit.” Here’s a tip, don’t go to law school because you are good at “winning arguments against your friends.” That skill set doesn’t actually translate to legal reasoning. Instead, consider a career in talk-radio.
3. Elle Woods (Legally Blonde) v. 6. Ally McBeal (Ally McBeal)
I find it impossible to write about Elle Woods without blood cascading from my eyes. Suffice it to say, “accessorizing” does not help you to get into law school (well, maybe Monica Goodling’s law school). It is difficult to imagine how Fox got away with marketing Ally McBeal as a feminist icon. I know many female attorneys, and most of them ingest nutrients and wear skirts that go all the way down past their butt cheeks.

2. Jack Brigance (A Time to Kill) v. 7. Kobayashi (The Usual Suspects)

Brigance could really be the stand in for every soft-hearted, southern Grisham character that takes on interplanetary conspiracies with a shoestring budget and a “lil’ elbow grease.” I particularly like how Grisham’s attorneys can always knock off 200 man-hours of doc. review in one evening, so long as they have their tequila and “play some Skynyrd.” Kobayashi speaks to the megalomaniac inside all lawyers that wants to use the law to get a massive criminal enterprise off the ground (maybe that’s just me). Perhaps I could have cared about work every morning if my client was Keyser Soze, but unfortunately nobody ever gave me the “cocaine, castration, murdering the eyewitness,” Madlib. Maybe if I had made partner.




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