Monday, May 15, 2006

Blawg Review #57

I have a confession to make: I'm not sure if my blog counts as a "lawblog." Sure, I'm a third year law student who occasionally waxes legal about classes and cases, but the most erudite posts you're likely to find here concern the constitutionality of 24, James Bond-loving supreme court judges or some dirty constitutional poetry. Blawg Review has had some pretty impressive hosts: Blawg Review #28 was hosted by a defence lawyer, Blawg Review #41 a corporate in-house counsel and Blawg Review #55 was hosted by a lawyer, teacher, author and consultant.

And now you get the blogger who confessed to buying Hootie & the Blowfish as his first album. (A confession that, should you try to introduce as evidence, I will fight dearly to label hearsay.) Surely there must be more professional candidates to host Blawg Review. Sometimes I feel this place is only acting like a lawblog.

But then, when I was watching TV (as I am wont to do) I thought, don't we often learn as much about the law from the fake lawyers as much as the real ones? People who haven't been through law school might not have a handy definition of hearsay, but I'll bet they know from any number of TV shows when to yell it in a courtoom - and they know the magic word is "sustained."

So while I present to you this week's Blawg Review submissions from around the blawgosphere, I'll highlight some of the best, worst, new and old fake lawyers from TV, organizing submissions as best I can around the personality of each lawyer. Without further ado: Blawg Review #57.

Black-Letter Jack

Lawyers looking for the kindest representation of their profession need look no further than Law & Order's Jack McCoy. The real revolving door of justice is in that show's casting department, as over its 16 year history we've met Stone, Robinette, Kincaid, Carmichael, Ross, Cabot and Southerlyn. Yet none pursue black-letter law as well as McCoy. His comical resemblance to muppet Sam the Eagle belies a stern and unforgiving desire for justice. Dude even once declared gay marriage unconstitutional for the sole reason of destroying husband-husband confidentiality, thus having a murder confession ruled admissible. Talk about lateral thinking.



In honour of Black-letter Jack, some of the more serious submissions:


Works on contingency? No, money down!

Another TV show that's been on for almost two decades might just have my generation's most popular lawyer, not that you'd ever want to hire him. I speak, of course, about Lionel Hutz. From his whipsmart knowledge of courtroom procedure to his unbeatable legal deals ("in addition to a lawyer, you'll also get this faux-pearl necklace, our gift to you!") - Hutz has everything you'd never want in a lawyer. If it weren't for Phil Hartman's death, he'd probably still be appealing his fraudulent advertising case against The Neverending Story, but he's still solidified his place as our favourite law-talking guy.

Accordingly, here are some light-hearted Blawg Review submissions:


Professional Irresponsibility

Lionel Hutz may be bad, but he has his charm. If you're looking for the flat-out, worst lawyer who destroys all your faith in a law degree, Barry Zuckerkorn from Arrested Development is your man. Bloggers would be pleased to know he once hosted his own website, www.barrygood.biz. (Of course, his successor, Bob Loblaw, maintained the Bob Loblaw Lawblog.) Barry's been known to tell his clients that a husband and wife can't be prosecuted for the same crime, and taking plea deals because they are literally quite heavy.



On that note of professional irresponsibility:

  • Steve Bainbridge writes about a peculiar indictment, involving insider trading within insider investigations in Grand Jury Leak = Insider Trading?
  • George Wallace has two posts about extortion and blackmail with the California Auto Industry, and what also sounds like a good screenplay for a George Clooney/Russell Crowe political intrigue film.
  • I've said it before, zombies are cool. But, if you're the creator of an army of them and just plead guilty to unleashing them upon a computing public, well that's not so cool.
  • Law Professor Paul Secunda blogs about Cyberslacking, but was he at work when he wrote it?

Single Female Lawyer

Ally McBeal's importance to fake lawyerdom shouldn't be understated. With female attorneys usually relegated to whatever haircolour Jack McCoy liked that season, Ally McBeal was smart, funny, maaaaaaybe a little too thin, but ultimately a leader. In her own way, McBeal was cutting edge. If her show spawned the advent of bad viral videos and terrible soundtracks, well she shan't be blamed for that.

Accordingly, here are some posts about cutting edge law:

Maaatlooooock!

You can't write a post about famous TV lawyers without mentioning the grandaddy of them all. Matlock may have a high criminal defence fee of over $100,000, but he gets results dammit! A veritable Columbo and McGuyver of the courtroom, Ben Matlock is just as popular with the old crowd as he is with the judges. There aren't many shows nowadays where a criminal defence lawyer is the protagonist, but I wouldn't rule out a sitcom about Saddam's attorneys. Imagine the zaniness!

In honour of Matlock's almost ancient, sage-like wisdom, some more historical posts:

Lady Justice is his Lois Lane

Finally, there's the new attorney in town, Jim Steele of NBC's Conviction. Sure, the show is filled with noteworthy attorneys, like Billy Desmond who constantly boasts about his lossless courtroom record, and Brian Peluso who, sporting an ugly leather jacket, goatee and Red Bull addiction, proves that not all lawyers are the catches they seem. But Steele is unique amongst L&O ADA's in that his M.O. is S-E-X! Simultaneously bedding his second chair and his boss, Steele is as vainglorious as his name.



In honour of Steele's libidinous personality, some of the more salacious submissions:

There are obviously too many TV lawyers to mention. (f/k/a even chimes in on CourtTV's 15 most popular Movie Lawyers.) But some honourable mentions for TV include Harvey Birdman, Jackie Chiles, Sandy Cohen (The O.C.'s heavily eyebrow-ed attorney), Boston Legal's Deny Crane, The Practice's Eugene Young and CNN's Nancy Grace. I know, I know - but some part of that hilarious Southern persona must be fictional!



So finally, some odds and ends:

And remember, it's always OK to say TV made you want to become a lawyer.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the issue. I appreciate any comments you post, and if you want to add your favourite lawyer from the silver screen, let us hear it!

Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

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Robert Stephan Cohen is the co-founder of Cohen Lans LLP, a law firm in New York City which specializes in family law and commercial litigation. In his family law practice, Cohen represents clients from the business, financial, professional, political and entertainment arenas with substantial net worths, whose problems involve sophisticated financial, valuation and tax issues, as well as child custody disputes. He is an active trial lawyer, yet he also adeptly negotiates resolutions to marital dissolutions when possible. Prior to starting Cohen Lans LLP in the fall of 2003, he was a founding partner of Morrison Cohen Singer & Weinstein. LLP, a 90 lawyer general practice firm in New York City. For 19 years he was the firm's Chair and headed its Matrimonial Department while also continuing to be involved in business litigation matters.
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