The Who’s Who of the Fictional Lawyer World

By Lisana Nithiananthan (2L)

As a law student, many are the instances where you run into a mere commoner (i.e. a non-law school individual) who asks whether your life is like [insert any law-related show on TV]. The sheer frequency of this question is the inspiration for this piece. In a legal bind, which fictional lawyer would I want representing me? Which fictional lawyer is likely to get disbarred? Which fictional lawyer is barely a lawyer at all? I undertook to do a highly academic study on the differences between the fictional portrayal and the actual practice of law…but that didn’t really work out. So instead you have this fun list detailing who you should hire and why (or why not).

Lionel Hutz (The Simpsons)

Lionel Hutz

Lionel Hutz

Quote: “The state bar forbids me from promising you a big cash settlement. But just between you and me, I promise you a big cash settlement.”

Why you should hire him: Lionel claims he graduated from Princeton School of Law (although Princeton hasn’t had a law school since 1852). His firm, I Can’t Believe It’s a Law Firm!, is conveniently located at the mall right next to a yogurt shack. He offers shoe repair and real estate services. Lionel has extensive experience working in Springfield and works on contingency.

Why You Shouldn’t: A recovering alcoholic known to be drinking scotch as early as 9:30 am, Lionel is potentially also a drug dealer. He’s a speedy ambulance-chaser who’s had to change his name. Twice. Becoming Miguel Sanchez and subsequently Dr. Nguyen Van Phuoc, hinting at more legal troubles. Lionel loses almost all of his cases.

Alicia Forrick (The Good Wife)

2 Alicia Forrick

Quote: “Don’t worry, I’m not going to divorce you. You’re too valuable to me professionally, just like I am to you.”

Why You Should Hire Her: Alicia graduated at the top of her law class at Georgetown University and as a junior associate she’s had the highest number of billable hours for any associate at Crozier, Abrams & Abbott. Alicia is grace under fire, having to deal with the scandal surrounding her husband, two children, and returning to practice law. She’s bold enough to go against her ex to start a law firm of her own. She’s rarely fazed and always careful with her choice of words.

Why You Shouldn’t: She has political ambitions and may be preoccupied by that. She’s not against manipulating the public, arranging a conjugal visit with her imprisoned husband as a PR move.

Saul Goodman (Breaking Bad and the forthcoming Better Call Saul)

3 Saul Goodman

Quote: “If you’re committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it.”

Why You Should Hire Him: Saul has experience as a former criminal lawyer and the former principal attorney of Saul Goodman & Associates. Saul’s a pretty well-connected man in the criminal underworld. You never have to worry about safety because Saul has his own personal henchman. His wardrobe will be the most colourful part of your day. Plus his one-liners are unbeatable.

Why You Shouldn’t: Saul’s a well-connected man in the criminal underworld. Saul’s also committed his fair share of criminal activity, helping launder drugs and cover up incriminating evidence. So, maybe don’t call Saul…

Jessica Pearson (Suits)

4 Jessica Pearson

Quote: “I put you out once. When I beat you this time, they’re going to have to peel you off the wall.”

Why You Should Hire Her: Jessica is a Harvard grad and the managing partner of Pearson Specter, a position she worked hard to earn. She forced two different managing partners out of the position before claiming it. There’s perhaps nothing she holds dearer than her firm, and she will let nothing harm it. While she may appear cold-hearted and distant, this is usually only to protect the firm (i.e. firing Louis Litt). Fiercely loyal to those who are loyal to her, like protégé Harvey, Jessica is a force to be reckoned with (and probably the only person who can outwit Mr. Specter). She doesn’t respond to threats, she makes them. Upon learning that a former boss only hired her because she fulfilled the diversity quota, she uses her success to prove she is more than just a token.

Why You Shouldn’t: Jessica is involved in the fraud committed by Mike and collaborated by Harvey (although she is less than impressed with the situation). If it’s you or the firm, she’ll probably choose the firm. Every time.

Maury Levy (The Wire)

5 Maury Levy

Quote: “You are amoral, are you not? You are feeding off the violence and the despair of the drug trade. You are stealing from those who themselves are stealing the lifeblood from our city. You are a parasite.”

Why You Should Hire Him: A highly skilled defence attorney, Maury excels at finding loopholes in the system to reduce sentences or eliminate charges for his guilty clients. Maury knows how to deal with the Baltimore PD and is well-connected in the drug world.

Why You Shouldn’t: Maury is as corrupt as the system he works in. He has no principle when it comes to clients, willing to defend anyone who can pay him. Maury is on retainer with a drug-trafficking organization and frequently advises the organization on how to avoid investigations and jail time.

Patty Hewes, (Damages)

DAMAGES

Quote: “Did I ever tell you why I became a lawyer, Ray? I thought I could change the world. Silly, huh?”

Why You Should Hire Her: A renowned litigator and founding partner at Hewes and Associates, Patty’s abusive childhood has made her hate bullies, especially in the form of CEOs and other corrupt men who misuse their positions of power. Patty has a very keen sense of justice and is prepared to do whatever is needed for a win, including convincing someone to throw a deposition and having an affair.

Why You Shouldn’t: Patty is proof that female attorneys can be cold-blooded. She often manipulates those around her, most evident when she needs a witness and takes on Ellen Parsons under the guise of hiring her (although eventually she sees Ellen as her protégé). Patty practices law in a rather unorthodox manner.

Olivia Pope (Scandal)

7 Olivia Pope

Quote: “I am very good at what I do. I am better at it than anybody else.”

Why You Should Hire Her: Highly educated, with a Political Science degree from Princeton and a law degree from Georgetown Law, Liv is often the smartest person in the room. Even if that room is the White House. Based in Washington, Liv is a fixer. She runs Olivia Pope & Associates to handle the many political scandals and personal crises in the capital. Liv is well-connected, well-dressed, and likes to wear her white hat (i.e. work for the good guys). If you have a problem, Liv will handle it.

Why You Shouldn’t: Liv is surrounded by scandal and drama. She’s involved in politics… and the president…and a CIA officer…Plus, her mother is an international conwoman. So she has a lot going on in her messy personal life, and it’s a bit of a safety issue too. Plus, she has associates that she more or less allows a limited license to kill. She’s notorious for covering up huge crimes. She may also be addicted to wine. And she’s fixed the election of the POTUS.

Jack McCoy (Law& Order)

8 Jack McCoy

Quote: “The Constitution should be used less as a shield for the guilty and more as word for their innocent victims.”

Why You Should Hire Him: A graduate of NYU law school, Jack is very experienced, he started as an Assistant District Attorney for Manhattan before becoming the DA. Jack has a sincere desire to see that justice is served.

Why You Shouldn’t: Jack is known to go rogue. When charges fail to stick, Jack frequently finds his own way to make them stick. This includes charging innocent people to frighten them into testifying against the real culprits. Jack’s also notorious for mocking the witness in court, which definitely can’t help your case. Plus, his unorthodox actions often end with a contempt of court charge, which definitely won’t help your case.

Annalise Keating (How to Get Away With Murder)

9 Annalise Keating

Quote: “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?”.

Why You Should Hire Her: As both a criminal law professor at a prestigious university and a high-profile criminal defense attorney, Annalise not only knows the law but she knows how to use it. Annalise takes no shit from anyone. She’s ruthless in the courtroom and pretty much everywhere else.

Why You Shouldn’t: She’s hired five 1Ls to mentor, and these mentees have extremely unconventional and highly unethical means of getting the job done. She goes to great lengths to win in court, this includes embarrassing and forcing Detective Nate, her partner in extramarital affair, to lie on the stand. Annalise is a bit of a snoop and has no qualms about going through your phone. She’s calculating and does not hesitate to use emotions to manipulate. She’s also heavily involved in the murder case of a student at her school (read: covering up for her husband Sam).

Harvey Specter (Suits)

10 Harvey Specter

Quote: “I refuse to answer that on the grounds that I don’t want to”.

Why you should hire him: He’s the best closer in New York City, a Harvard grad, and a name partner at Pearson Specter. Harvey is charming, confident, and witty. He works hard and plays hard at being the super successful corporate lawyer, going to almost any length to win his cases. But Harvey has humble and noble beginnings. While he was working in the mailroom of Gordon Schmidt Van Dyke, Harvey came across a filing backdated by an associate who had missed the filing initially. Harvey reported it to Jessica Pearson and announced that if the firm did not declare misconduct, he would report them to the District Attorney. His boldness and noble nature impressed her so much she paid for him to go to law school.

Why You Should Not: Despite his unwavering loyalty, Harvey lies to his friend and partner -Jessica to hire a former-law-school-kick-out-turned-drug-dealer by the name of Mike Ross. A hire that repeatedly puts the firm and Specter and Pearson’s ability to practice on the line. Not only that, Harvey goes to great lengths to help Mike cover up his fraud. When they finally manage to get the ticking time bomb that is Mike out of their firm, Specter orchestrates it so he ends back up at the firm. While he proves that he is not a soulless corporate lawyer, Harvey puts the firm on the line. Again.

Sandy Cohen (The O.C.)

11 Sandy Cohen

Quote: “A good cause? Poor odds? A chance to ruffle some Newpsie feathers? How could I say no?”

Why You Should Hire Him: A Berkeley alum and a professor of law, Sandy is a public defender. Even when he sells out for a bigger paycheck, he does it so he can do more pro-bono work. How heartwarming is that? Plus, Sandy takes a client home and basically adopts him as his own son. Sandy’s an empathetic and passionate family man. He fights for the little guy. What’s not to love?

Why You Shouldn’t: Please refer to above comments. Aka, no reason not to hire Sandy.