5/19/11

Elephant Post: What's the Best Lawyer Movie/TV Show of All Time?

After a few weeks of being serious with the Elephant Post questions, we decided to tone it down a little bit this week and let you stretch your Pop-Culture muscles and tell us what movie or television show, that features lawyers, you think is the greatest of all time. I mentioned last week that Joss Whedon's show, Angel, is one of my favorites. A show where the Senior Partners of the law firm of Wolfram and Hart are all Demons from Hell… you'd kind of expect to see that as a documentary on PBS, now wouldn't you??

We got some great answers, but strangely, it wasn't until the last minute that someone wrote about To Kill a Mockingbird. I was hoping someone would do that so that I could give it to my daughter who has to read the book for the first time this summer for her High School class. A few others that didn't make the cut were, Matlock, Boston Legal, absolutely none of the Law & Order franchise made the cut, and recent movie, The Lincoln Lawyer must not have stuck in anyone's head either. I don't think anyone will mind that they didn't make the cut.

Enjoy this week's perspectives on great lawyer movies and television shows. We've placed next week's question below (along with a handy web form for you to fill out). We'll be going back to a more serious tone next week where we'll play on the idea of "Lawyers vs. Non-Lawyers" within a firm, and whether the "non-lawyers" should be leveraged by their firms on their websites… if at all.



Tracy Thompson-Przylucki
Consortium Champion
LA Law

Definitely this Bochco creation was the best of the breed. What casting!  You had all of the quintessential legal personas covered. Remember the lecherous divorce lawyer, Arnie Becker played by Corbin Bernsen? And cute and quirky couple,  Ann and Stuart? The young up and comers Victor Sufuentes and Jonathan Rollins. And sweet and reliable Benny Stulwicz.  Leland and Douglas as the founding partners, always trying to manage the troops and struggle with the eternal battle between good and evil that is always at play when profit is king?  Plus, LA Law answered the question, "What ever happened to Susan Dey?" A homerun in my book! Thanks for the chance to reminisce.


Brian P. Craig
Competitive Intelligence Librarian
Night Court

I never learned anything about the law by watching this show, but I always enjoyed its mix of Theater of the Absurd and the Marx Brothers.  Judge Harry's Stone's obsession with Mel Tormé was a nice touch (especially when the Velvet Fog himself finally appeared).  And life on ""Night Court"" was no more absured or anarchic than some of the firms I've worked at.


mglickman
Not yet lawyer
My Cousin Vinny

Nothing need be said. We've all seen it (if you haven't, I don't want to know you.) and love it.


Balika
Law student, married to a lawyer, also avid watcher of American TV shows
Damages

It's great because it's a more accurate depiction of a law firm, lawyers and court cases in general. Lawyers aren't nice people, partners at law firms even more so. They love to smile and be nice to you to your face but really, deep down, they're actually plotting to kill your fiance because they'd much rather you spend that extra time at the office.
Also, cases CANNOT be wrapped up in just one episode. They would ordinarily stretch out over a few weeks, or say, one season.


Tami S Cunningham
Research Consultant
Ally McBeal

Caveat - just the first few seasons of Ally, before it jumped the shark.
I was in law school at the time. It was a funny departure from all the serious John Grisham movies and books.


Simon
Information supplier
Murder One

Twists and turns; personalities; Teddy Hoffman's irrepressible "don't worry, I am in control" attitude. Okay, the chicks are cute too.


Karin
Former Law Library Asst
Damages

Great sets; they really got the interior design of aesthetic of top-tier, AmLaw100 firms.  Watching Glenn Close's character's mannerisms, queenly mien, and air of disdain for everyone around her was like being back in the offices of Blank, Blank, Blank and Blank.


Tony Fioretti
Law Student
My Cousin Vinny

Procedurally accurate, hilarious, and Marisa Tomei (Won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress)


Ken Hirsh
Law librarian, former attorney
L.A. Law

From Steven Bochco and David E. Kelley, this series struck just the right balance of courtroom action, office politics, and soap opera.  The actors were perfectly cast, the writing spot on for the first several years, and the books and computers furnished by West, in exchange for the promotional credit, helped dress a terrific set.  It tackled current controversies in a less heavy-handed way than Law and Order would.  Leading off every episode was the terrific theme by the legendary Mike Post.  Arguably it jumped the shark when Roz fell to her death in the elevator shaft, but nobody really missed her.  Perfect fare for a lawyer giving up the practice and starting library school.


Brigid
Litigation Support
Gideon's Trumpet

Not flashy or preachy but I always remember this movie and Henry Fonda's performance.




Lihsa
Internet Marketing Manager
To Kill a Mockingbird / Perry Mason / Wizard of Oz

TKAMB: Come on!!! I really had to be the first one to put this down? Seriously.
PM: Perry was the MAN! He always broke the witness on cross and WON. And he always made mincemeat out of Hamilton Burger.
WOZ: I just like Glenda. And nearly any real world situation analogizes beautifully to WOZ.  :)


Zena Applebaum
Manager, Intelligence and Intranet
Billable Hours

The show's description on Showcase.ca says it all "They're smart, they're trapped and they' re really bored."  A an independant Canadian show about the all mighty billable hour, set and filmed in the offices of a Bay Street firm.  If you haven't seen the show, do yourself a favour and watch an episode online.  Real life can't get much more like this kind of fiction.


Scott Preston
Technologist
To Kill a Mockingbird

Loved the book, loved the movie.  Atticus Finch, the consummate lawyer who understands racial equality at a time when such an idea was very uncommon.  A strong father who understands the importance of sharing his views with his family.  Harper Lee uses Atticus’ country charm and dry wit to tell this powerful story in a meaningful way.


Mark Gediman
Librarian & Trekkie
Star Trek-The Original Series

Samuel T. Cogley from the episode "Court Martial" Mr.Cogley defends Cpt. Kirk and uses real, physicals books to research his defense.  He gives an impassioned speech about the value of case law books vs.  an ""homogenized,pasteurized, synthesized"" computer system.  I can understand his feelings.  While not a luddite (I don't think), I view with suspicion any research that does not allow me to use my powers of reason.  Telling me what is relevent and what isn't intrudes on the areas where I add the unique reasoning and experience that give my research value and diffferentiate from the online noise.  And now I'll step off my soapbox...
Amazing how this 1960's show still resonates today.


Ayelette Robinson
Knowledge Management
The Whole Truth

The Whole Truth was a short-lived TV show from the fall of 2010, with Maura Tierney and Rob Morrow playing, respectively, a prosecutor and a defense attorney. While the show may not trump classics as far as overall quality goes, it did something very refreshing -- it presented every case equally weighted from both the prosecution's and the defense's perspectives, so that the audience truly did not know which side was right. Unlike other lawyer shows and movies, and unlike the media's portrayal of most real-life cases, the show conveyed to the American public that every story has two sides, nothing is black and white, and in real life it's often difficult to tell who should prevail.



Next Week's Elephant Post Question:
Should Non-Lawyers Be Promoted On Law Firm Web Pages?
With the exception of the C-Level staff, almost all law firm websites do not list the "Non-Lawyers" they employ. In addition to that, almost all of the news and back-patting that a law firm promotes focuses almost entirely on things that they Lawyers do, and ignore what accomplishments that non-lawyers perform. Granted, there may be the occasional exception, but when it comes to law firm websites, you'd almost think there was no administrative staff at all… because they are never mentioned.

So, this week's question comes right out and asks if this is a good policy to have. Should the law firm's website only promote the work (both professionally and personally) that the lawyers do, or should it be expanded to show the non-lawyers as well? Why or Why Not??

As always, we try to make this easy for you, and we'll also allow you to post anonymously if you want. Fill out the form below and let us know what you think.


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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I was a child, the TV show "Paper Chase" scared the heck out of me.
But then "Perry Mason" got his man and all was well with the world again.
The original "Law & Order" is great stuff.

Jan Rivers said...

The Conspirator was also a very good film on many levels, not only just the complexity of the case and the legal/ moral/ ethical issues around it, but also examining how it may be to represent a client who is an anathema to the general public and who, at least initially, you have no interest in defending due to your own feelings about what she is accused of doing.

Wendy Lyon said...

It's not a "lawyer" movie, but I always think of "12 Angry Men" when I think of legal classics. That and "Inherit the Wind."

Jordan Furlong said...

Judgment at Nuremberg. End of story.

 

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