Television

The courtroom lends itself to dramatization. A trial has a natural story arc: The adversarial system makes for a clear conflict between characters. There’s a natural end point when both sides rest their cases and the verdict comes down. Plus, lawyers are such loveable characters.

And so there are many great movies and TV shows about lawyers. (Along with some not so great ones.) They can amuse, inspire, terrify, or convince you to go to law school.

The ABA Journal has made a list of the 25 greatest fictional lawyers of all time:

In our survey of this literature of lawyers, however, we feel obliged to recognize a great divide—ante-Atticus and post-Atticus.

From Dick the Butcher’s famous pronouncement to Jack Cade in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2 — “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” — through Dickens’ Mr. Tulkinghorn and Galsworthy’s Soames Forsyte, literature (with a few exceptions) treated lawyers poorly.

That all changed with Harper Lee’s unflappable, unforgettable Atticus Finch. With Atticus, the lawyer — once the criminal mouthpiece, the country club charlatan, the ambulance-chasing buffoon — was now an instrument of truth, an advocate of justice, the epitome of reason.

Since Finch is a literary lawyer on steroids, they have cut him from the competition. The list is the 25 greatest who are not Atticus Finch. Did your favorite make the list?

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Earlier this week, we told you to look out for a former Clifford Chance associate — Georgetown Law grad James Weir — on the upcoming recession-inspired edition of “The Apprentice.” We lamented that Donald Trump was providing work to only one unemployed lawyer.

Shortly thereafter, we found out that the Donald had in fact been more gracious than that to the legal profession. He has given work to at least two down-and-out legal eagles. A tipster wrote:

Saw your post about the former Clifford Chance attorney who was cast for this upcoming season of the Apprentice and wanted to let you know there is also a recent Brooklyn Law grad named Mahsa Saiedi-Azcuy on the show. She graduated in 2009 and was actually hired by the Brooklyn DA, uncertain as to her current employment status though.

We look forward to this match-up: Woman vs. Man. Brooklyn Law vs. Georgetown Law. DA’s Office vs. Biglaw.

Plus, Saiedi-Azcuy is hot…

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“The People’s Court” is not a court, body, agency, public servant or other person authorized by law to conduct a proceeding and to administer the oath or cause it to be administered… [T]he statements made on the show have no more probative force than the words of an actor reading from a script in a play.

–Brooklyn judge Francois A. Rivera, in an opinion dismissing testimony given in Judge Marilyn Milian’s courtroom.

(Gavel bang: Yale Law & Technology.)


Come on, it’s easy! You just shove all that stuff in your head, you write down your answers, and forget it the next day. Learn on the job like everybody else.

– Sheriff Andy Bellefleur of True Blood, trying to allay Jason Stackhouse’s fears of taking the written exam to become a sheriff’s deputy.

Donald Trump knows what it is to be down but not out. We’ve lost track of how many times he’s filed for bankruptcy. But he is a phoenix, who always arises from the Chapter 11 ashes, his flaming reddish hair unruffled.

Now Trump wants to offer the same opportunity to other high-flyers who were knocked down by the recession. The upcoming season of “The Apprentice” has a cast of those left jobless in the recent economic collapse.

When they were casting for the show, the producers reached out to Above the Law in the hopes of nailing down a laid-off lawyer for the cast.

The show was taped this summer. And it appears they found themselves a shiny, new laid-off legal eagle (UPDATE on July 23: Two of them, actually.) The producers haven’t released the official cast list yet, but our tipsters recognized one of the contestants in an ad plugging the show (via Popwatch):

So who is the lawyer, and what does his résumé look like?

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Lawyers have been all up in The Tonight Show’s grill this year, thanks to the Jay Leno – Conan O’Brien smackdown. But the lawyers were relegated to an off-screen role. Jay Leno never name-checked Gibson Dunn (that we know of) for repping NBC and helping to put him back on his throne.

Another Biglaw firm did get a shout-out from Leno on Monday night, though. During his headlines bit, Leno got laughs thanks to Morrison & Foerster.

What funny business did they get up to?

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Going on game shows offers up the possibility of great reward or eternal humiliation in the form of YouTube’s infinite archives. An Oregon lawyer by the name of Paul Galm experienced the latter, when he appeared on “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” in 2006. (This is admittedly old, but sometimes we like to exhume Internet classics.)

Galm started off by telling Meredith Viera about how he and his wife — both attorneys — quit their jobs and blew their savings traveling around the world, and how he was appearing on WWTBAM hoping to get his nest egg back. Instead, he epically wound up with egg on his face:

Says the tipster who sent it along: “This guy must have gone to a TTT.”

Well, we did a little research. As it turns out, Paul Galm went to a top ten law school.

Which prestigious institution popped him out, and where is he now?

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Real Housewives of New Jersey son Albie Manzo may be slow, but he’s determined. He flunked out of Seton Hall law school, but he still wants his law degree, and met with a lawyer in the show’s last episode to figure out how he can get it.

Manzo says that the culprit behind his poor law school performance — reflected in his GPA of 1.9 — is a learning disability that causes him to take three times as long as normal people to absorb information. Some may question whether LDs and JDs go together. Said one ATL commenter:

If he has a learning disability, he really shouldn’t be a lawyer. It takes him three times as long to absorb information? Are clients going to be ok with paying him three times as much to get something done? The legal professions is a skilled profession and requires a certain amount of intellect. If one doesn’t have the required intelligence, then it is not right for them… it would be like making exceptions and giving special treatment so ugly people can be supermodels.

But his mom told him he should go for it anyway, become an attorney, “and show Seton Hall the mistake they made.” In the show’s last episode, Manzo met with a lawyer who told him he needs a letter from the school attesting to the fact that they made a mistake. Otherwise, Manzo has to wait two years to reapply to law school….

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Erin Elmore, The Apprentice

Erin Elmore, ex-reality TV star.

In our last few reality TV stories, we have highlighted the perils of putting your life on camera — publicly flunking out of law school, having the world know you’ve failed the bar exam twice, and exposing an ego surgically enhanced to the size of Texas.

One former reality TV star emailed us to protest. Erin Elmore wrote:

I also was on a realty show….. Apprentice 3 with Donald Trump. It actually opened career doors and I never regretted doing the show!!!

Elmore was on the 2005 Magna vs. Net Worth edition of the show, pitting those with book smarts against those with street smarts. Since she has a law degree from Villanova, she was obviously teamed up with the book smarties.

She sent along a series of YouTube clips with the email, showcasing all the TV gigs she’s gotten since doing The Apprentice. Here’s a montage. The girl knows how to work a Philadelphia red carpet.

Elmore worked for Marshall Dennehey and then JP Morgan Chase before going on The Apprentice. Trump fired her, and she returned to the world of law. To what great heights has reality television propelled her?

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Loyola Law School (Los Angeles) hoped to quietly jump on the grade-inflation bandwagon in order to help make its students more competitive in the legal marketplace. The school bumped letter grades up a notch, so that a C- became a C, a B became a B+, and an A+ became an A+you’reasuperamazinggunnerrockstar.

But the quiet jump has resulted in a lot of noise. After we wrote about the school’s retroactive grade inflation, the Los Angeles Times and later the New York Times picked up on it.

And last night, Loyola had its big moment on the Colbert Report:

The upside is that Loyola-L.A. just broke through to a whole new audience of potential applicants. The downside is that we can hear the deflation of the hopes of all the Loyola law school grads who planned to wow employers with their amazing GPAs.

We reached out to Loyola about being mocked by one of America’s most influential people. A response from Dean Victor Gold, after the jump.

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