Why is it that the shady attorneys make the most compelling television characters?
Lawyers get a bad rap, but most of us follow the rules. We honor our ethical obligations. We want to do the right thing. But when we see a delightfully unethical attorney on the screen, we can’t look away.
Here are three of our favorites from TV shows of the past (and almost past). If you aren’t yet acquainted with this trio, snuggle up on your sofa and queue up your Netflix for some legal drama marathons.
Breaking Bad: Saul Goodman
Saul Goodman taught me everything I ever needed to know about solo practitioner office decor. And by decor, I mean Constitution-printed window shades.
From fiduciary duty violations to money-laundering assistance, Saul’s your guy for all your unethical needs. (Bonus: His “better call Saul” ads remind me of a now-disbarred personal injury attorney in my hometown who promised prospective clients the “E Guarantee.” Ahh, nostalgia …)
Though the show that introduced us to Saul is ending this year, we may still hear more from our favorite attorney on TV. AMC is mulling a Saul Goodman spinoff.
Damages: Patty Hewes
For years, one of my friends raved about ‘Damages,’ but I dismissed his praise for the show because it was obviously colored by his Glenn Close obsession. (He’s loved her since high school. So weird.) Then I actually watched the show. Now I, too, am obsessed with Glenn Close.
Close plays Patty Hewes, a brilliant — but unscrupulous — plaintiff’s attorney who spends most of the series practicing law in a moral gray area. (Okay, sometimes she crosses into the moral black area.) The ruthless Hewes betrays her friends, alienates her family, and double-crosses nearly everyone she encounters while keeping her law license.
Boston Legal: Alan Shore
As a fan of “The Practice,” David E Kelly’s original Boston-based legal drama, I wanted to hate Alan Shore. He was too glib for the original series. But when Kelley finished ditching Bobby Donnell’s gang and fully transitioned to “Boston Legal,” I grew to love Alan. He annoys opposing counsel, insults judges, and harasses witnesses, all in the name of zealous representation. In other words, he does everything you dream of doing in a world not bound by legal ethics or professional responsibility.
“Boston Legal” grew tedious in its later years, but the first two seasons are worth watching just to see James Spader and William Shatner trading barbs in their unconventional attorney roles.
We showed you our favorite fictional attorneys, now it’s your turn. Share your nominees our Facebook page.
- Disorder in the Court: 5 Things You Never Do in Front of a Judge (FindLaw’s Strategist)
- Who’s the Least Ethical Lawyer on ‘Arrested Development’? (FindLaw’s Greedy Associates)
- The 3 Most Evil Fictional Lawyers (FindLaw’s Greedy Associates)