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'The Good Wife': Good Law? -- Season 7, Episode 11

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on January 11, 2016 10:06 AM

We're back! And Alicia is back out on the campaign trail with Peter. But it was a rocky road, given the state her relationship with Eli was in at the end of the fall season.

Amidst the caucus chaos there were some pretty straightforward plot points back home: Peter's mother is negotiating her prenuptial agreement with Howard Lyman, and Lockhart, Agos and Lee are facing employment discrimination charges. Here's a look at the legal aspects of last night's episode, entitled "Iowa."

The Good Wife: Good Law?

Season 7, Episode 11
"Iowa"

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  • Season 7, Episode 12 (Airs 1/17/2016)

Episode Recap (Spoiler Alert):

"Iowa is different," Ruth Eastman tells us, and there's no evidence to the contrary from Peter's campaign. Loose meat sandwiches, loose lips on the tour bus, and loose cannons at the county campaign stops provide a fairly entertaining backdrop, but little in the way of legal issues.

Back in Chicago, however, Lucca is representing Peter's mother Jackie in her prenup talks with Howard and David Lee. It turns out Lee embezzled $2.2 million in settlement money in Howard's name to avoid sharing it with Alicia when she left the firm.

We thought hiring all those white, male associates might come back to bite Lockhart, Agos, and Lee, and it has again. An investigator from Illinois' Fair Employment Practices Agency gives the firm a visit, to look into Monica Timmons's racial discrimination claims.

Legal Roots:

Considering the stakes, Jackie and Howard definitely need a prenup, but in the end decide against signing one. Although there are a few things you can't include in a prenup, this one could've accounted for the funds squirreled away in Howard's name, as well as Jackie's assets. And even though the elderly lovebirds decided to pass on the prenup, they can always draft and sign a postnup.

Even though Lockhart, Agos, and Lee ended up hiring Monica and she withdrew her discrimination claim, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decided an investigation was necessary, and it was an investigation that found the firm "fostered a racist culture." As such they could've faced fines and other penalties for racial discrimination, but Cary chose to throw Howard under the bus instead. The investigator was fine knowing Howard would take an emeritus role that would limit his voting power on the board.

Legal Fiction:

There was nothing, legally, to complain about in this episode. The focus was more on Peter's campaign and Alicia's emotional struggles, and the prenup and discrimination cases formed a fairly straightforward legal backdrop.

Legal Babble

Power of Attorney: This phrase often gets tossed around in sitcoms and shows, and not just legal ones. Here, Jackie is concerned about Howard's mental acuity, and tries to negotiate for power of attorney in case she is left taking care of Howard. Power of attorney generally grants one person the ability to make financial, medical, and/or legal decisions on behalf of another. These arrangements are often made in advance through a living will or a durable power of attorney, which assign decision-making power should a person become incapacitated.

Legal Verdict

Last night's episode could be considered a place-setter. Cary and Diane seem to have settled most of the associate hiring issues, but moving Howard to the side may be a struggle (especially with his name on the embezzled settlement funds). And with Peter's campaign out of the way, Eli is eager to promote Alicia as America's "Number 1." But will his relationship with Alicia be too fractured to mount a campaign run of her own?

We'll see next week.

What did you think of this week's episode of "The Good Wife"? Is the show guilty of making any legal mistakes? Check back here for more legal recaps of "The Good Wife," and send us a tweet at @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #TheGoodWife.

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