September is an exciting month for us at Robert B. Sykes and Associates, we’ve mentioned before that we LOVE TV and movies, especially those shows and movies that have to do with the law, and all of the best lawyer shows start up this month. One of the things we love to do is compare these shows to the actual practice of law. We like this so much, we’ve decided to make this a regular feature on our blog. Periodically, we are going to make a post focusing on one or two movies or TV shows having to do with the law and explain what is like a real law practice and what isn’t.
This week we are comparing CBS’s The Good Wife and ABC’s Boston Legal. These two shows are supposed to represent what people think of when they think of lawyers and law firms. Out of these two, The Good Wife is the most true-to-life. For those of you who do not know what the show is about, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is a lawyer who quit working to take care of her children. Her husband, Peter (Chris Noth), is a state’s attorney who is jailed due to a scandal. After this, Alicia returns to work as a lawyer to support her children.
Most of the legal aspects seen in The Good Wife are pretty realistic. One of the things it shows is the long and laborious process of going through a lawsuit. Throughout the show you see the attorneys doing legal research and investigating the case by tracking down witnesses, deposing witnesses, and looking at the scene of an incident to see if a case has any merit. The lawyers in this show also take cases on that, if it were in a real life situation, the damages would be significant enough, and there would be good reason enough to take the case. The show is also realistic when it shows hearings and other minor Court proceedings, which generally happen without an audience present in the Courtroom.
In addition to all of the pre-trial work shown in the show, the courtroom scenes, although abridged so it can be shown in half an hour or less, are fairly accurate. They show the lawyers taking turns questioning, objecting, and giving reasons for objecting to certain questions and evidence.
Boston Legal, on the other hand, is entertaining, but absolutely ridiculous insofar as the law is concerned. This show is a comedy spin off of the drama The Practice where one of the attorneys, Alan Shore (James Spader), comes and works for Denny Crane (William Shatner) at the fictional law firm Crane, Poole & Schmidt, where all sorts of legal antics take place. First off, the lawyers at Crane, Poole and Schmidt take absurd cases. For instance, one case is of a woman who wants to sue God for the death of her husband. Another case involves someone suing a casino for his massive gambling debts. In real life, no lawyer would take cases like most of the ones depicted in the show. How trials are depicted in the show is unrealistic as well. The show starts with one of the lawyers getting a ridiculous case, figuring out a trial plan, and going to court in a very short amount of time. When the characters are in court, they act out in the most absurd way. For instance, one of the episodes deals with someone who is accused of murdering a judge. The defense lawyer then accuses not one, not two, but THREE witnesses as they are testifying on the stand of the murder. Or sometimes when the lawyers are in court, they will go off on a huge theatrical rant, which in real life would be objected to by the other attorney and the judge. Here, they are allowed to continue without distraction.
Even though legal shows can be very misleading, you can still pick up some interesting facts about the legal process. However, it’s a safe bet that you will not get shot by your attorney with a paintball gun if you get into a disagreement. Sykesinjurylaw.com