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Grading Top Television Lawyers

Grading TV Lawyers 1 4 2 D 3 7 5 8 6 -- 9 The Practice Boston Legal The Good wife Law & Order J.A.G. The West nde Entertainment vs. Ethics Perception vs. Reality 0 TXT Sarah MacKenzie Sarah “Mac" MacKenzie (Catherine Bell) Title: JAG (1995-2005) Lieutenant Colonel GRADE United States Marine Corps Sarah Mackenzie, called Mac by most, joined the Marines out of high school, graduated from Officer Training School and was sponsored by the Marine Corps to attend Duke Law School. Eventually she is assigned to JAG head- quarters in Washington D.C. Because the Marine Corps is a component of the Department of the Navy, the two branches' lawyers work together, although sometimes beset by institutional rivalry. Mac lives by the core values of the Marine Corps to exemplify ethical and moral behavior, to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity, and to respect others and human dignity. JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL JAG (Judge Advocate General) portrayed the specialized work of military lawyers at the JAG headquarters in Washington D.C. In the series, "judge advocates" from the Department of the Navy's Office of the Judge Advocate General prosecute and defend cases under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, conduct investigations and advise on operational law for the military personnel. Unlike the civilian system where lawyers either prosecute or defend those alleged of committing a crime, judge advocates may be assigned to be a prosecutor one day and a defense lawyer the next. The series provided an entertaining window into the unique features of the military justice system and a commentary on reality-based controversies of the day. Mạc receives an A for the following reasons: She demonstrates respect for the system and all in it, strictly adhering to military court rules. She proves herself to be a civil and professional lawyer with a strong work ethic. Victor Sifuentes CALIFORNIA GRADE LA LAW Title: Attorney at McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney & Kuzak Seaser. Tue Victor Sifuentes was the only Hispanic lawyer at the Los Angeles based firm McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney, and Kuzakin. Sifuentes was a class act. He was passionate Victor Sifuentes and principled about social justice issues. He knew he'd been hired to satisfy a racial quota, and was sensitive about having gone to a lesser-known law school than his peers. Therefore, Sifuentes worked twice as hard to prove himself. (Jimmy Smitts) LA LAW (1986-1994) Victor receives an A for the following reasons: One of the most critically acclaimed television series for nearly a decade, LA Law was a legal drama series that combined ripped- from-the-headline stories, character drama, and comedy. Because of its popularity, the show had a great impact on how people saw law He acts as a sound ethical lawyer, always seeking the truth. He is the ultimate champion of justice, looking out for the underdog and giving a voice to the voiceless. and lawyers. One law professor wrote in the Yale Law Journal that L.A. Law "has conveyed more 'bytes' of information (truthful or not) about lawyers than all the Legal Studies programs, all the op-ed pieces, all the PBS shows put together" Oliver Babish Oliver Babish (Oliver Platt) THE WEST WING (1999-2006) GRADE Title: White House Counsel Oliver Babish, is a staunch advocate for the law. We first meet his character when the President asks about the WEST WING THE legal ramifications for failing to disclose his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, a condition that admittedly may affect his cognitive functions without anyone knowing it. Babish's guidance showcases his allegiance to the Office of the President and not the President personally. His strong moral code serves him well in making ethical decisions in the face of political pressure and power. However, in a nod to the entertainment factor, his demeanor is not always civil. Oliver receives an A for the following reasons: The West Wing is set primarily in the west wing of the White House, where the oval office and offices of the presidential senior staff are located. It takes place during the fictional Democratic Ethics are of top priority for Babish; and he makes it clear that he will leave his post if the president fails to follow the law. administration of Josiah Bartlet and depicts lawyers helping the president formulate and implement his policy agenda. He always takes the time to ensure the President's family and staff are aware of the legal ramifications of their White House Counsel is appointed by the President to advise on all legal issues concerning the President and his/her administration. Because Counsel offers legal advice to the President in the actions and conversations. President's official capacity, and does not represent him personally, a recurring theme is the scope of the attorney-client privilege between the Counsel and the President. Eugene Young CONFIDENTIAL Title: Senior Partner at Young, Frutt, & Berluti GRADE the practice Eugene Young is an aggressive, seasoned, and surprisingly sensitive lawyer in the firm of Robert Donnell and Associates. Interestingly for a defense lawyer, he was angry whenever he saw the guilty walk free and when people were jailed for the wrong reasons. This sentiment was fueled no doubt by the fact that Eugene's brother died in prison, serving time for a crime he did not commit, but confessed to under coercion. He was a leader, working his way up from senior associate to partner. He seldom, if ever, lost a case. Eugene is the only African-American lawyer at the firm and argued in a case that racism was a "cancer" that should be rooted out and destroyed. Eugene Young (Steve Harris) THE PRACTICE (1997-2004) Eugene receives an A for the following reasons: The Practice is set in Boston and is focused on the firm of Robert Donnell & Associates. Primarily a criminal defense firm, Bobby's firm was gritty, low He is stoic and hard-working, always rent, and struggled to make ends meet. The following a strict “by the book" approach to the law. Practice depicted current events and the more uncomfortable aspects of the legal system, such as arbitrariness and the role of race. Serving as the ethical voice of reason for the firm, he wants to change the system for the better. Allison M. McBeal Allison Marie CONFIDENTIAL "Ally" McBeal (Calista Flockhart) Title: Litigator - Administrative Partner of Cage, Fish & McBeal ALLY MCBEAL (1997-2002) Ally McBeal is a litigator at a small private firm. The show focused more on reality through fantasy, and there were few portrayals of lawyering skills. Perhaps what endeared Ally McBeal to her audience was that they were allowed to see and hear her thoughts, doubts, and feelings. She portrayed the complicated and sometimes contradictory human aspects of being a lawyer. Ally McBeal Ally receives a B for the following reasons: She acts as a sound, ethical lawyer. At times, she lacks discretion and safeguarding of client confidences Ally McBeal was a legal comedy-drama that used special effects, fantasy sequences, and music to highlight the private life of its main lawyer. The show explores the exploits of a female lawyer navigating the drama of singlehood. The law firm includes Ally's first love, his wife, and a pair of law partners, John Cage and Richard Fish, who indulge in many of their own zany escapades. In its heyday, this show spawned more fan websites than any legal series. GRADE Alicia Florrick -ORIGINAL B- Title: Partner at GRADE Florrick, Agos & Lockhart thegoodwife Alicia Florrick returned to the legal profession as a junior associate at the high-powered law firm Stern, Lockhart & Gardner. She progressed rapidly, gaining the confidence of her clients, her co-workers, and herself. Eventually, she became an equity partner and then leaves to start her own firm Florrick, Agos & Lockhart. Catching the political bug, Alicia campaigns for and is elected Cook County State's Attorney. There, she is forced to resign by the Democratic Party to cover up the fact that voting machines were rigged for another candidate in order to protect the party's super majority in the state senate. Based on the scandal, the firm refuses to reinstate her, so Alicia is considering starting another firm. Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) THE GOOD WIFE (2009-Present) The Good Wife is a drama set in Chicago about a wife/mother who re-enters the legal workforce after her husband, the Alicia receives a B- for the following reasons: Cook County State's Attorney, is convicted of sex and political corruption charges. Against the constant backdrop of Despite the lack of scruples of those around her, Alicia primarily makes ethical decisions. political scandal, usually involving her husband. Alicia transforms herself from scorned politician's wife to resilient, successful and determined lawyer and politician in her She focuses on the details of her cases and is usually very prepared in court. own right. Shirley Schmidt Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen) BOSTON LEGAL (2004-2008) Title: Senior Partner at GRADE Crane, Poole & Schmidt Shirley Schmidt joined the firm as a partner and provided a modicum of dignity to the circus-like atmosphere at the firm. An astute businesswoman, she managed the hectic offices of Crane, Poole & Schmidt with ease while winning most of her court cases. BOSTON LEGAL Generally clear-eyed and steely determined, she was able to accomplish positive outcomes for the clients while calming the emotional wake stirred up by her more outrageous partners Alan Shore and Denny Crane. Shirley receives a C+ for the following reasons: Boston Legal was a high drama show about the larger than life lawyers who practiced law in a fictional Boston law firm. Sometimes irreverent and funny, sometimes intense and Despite the circus-like atmosphere, she remains professional and straight-laced as a solid litigator and sound decision-maker. moving, the show often addressed issues that were underreported by the media with a creative license that made it entertaining. The lawyers made political statements, bent the law and the rules of ethics, and took over-the-top positions to advance their clients' causes. However, she's prone to grandstanding, especially when going up against the government. Saul Goodman CONFIDENTIAL D+ BETTER CALL Säil Breaking Вad Title: Criminal Lawyer at GRADE Saul Goodman & Associates From parking tickets to murder cases, Saul Goodman (aka Jimmy McGill) does it all. Aside from the trashy, late night TV ads and buy one get one deals on his legal services, Saul is an effective lawyer who isn't afraid to employ in dirty schemes to ensure he wins all of his clients'cases. James Morgan McGill A.K.A. Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) BETTER CALL SAUL (2015-Present) BREAKING BAD (2009-2013) Saul receives a D+ for the following reasons: He acts as a highly competent lawyer able to problem solve and find loopholes to help clients win their cases. Better Call Saul is an American television drama series about a strip mall lawyer. It is a prequel/spin-off of Breaking Bad. Set in 2002, Better Call Saul follows the story of small-time He is always an advocate for his clients whether that means assisting them in laundering money or even hiring hit men for their needs at a moment's notice. lawyer James Morgan "Jimmy" McGill, six years before his appearance on Breaking Bad as Saul Goodman; events after the original series are briefly explored. Jack McCoy Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) GRADE Title: LAW & ORDER (1994-2000) District Attorney of New York County Jack McCoy is a well-seasoned attorney who first serves as the Executive Assistant District Attorney and is later promoted to District Attorney. Found in contempt of court 80 times during his tenure, McCoy's practice techniques by no means model those of a civil lawyer. Despite his aggressive professional behavior, McCoy is depicted not as a stereotypical "bad-guy", but as having single-minded motivation and an unrelenting desire for justice to be served. LAW & ORDER Jack receives a D for the following reasons: He is known to manipulate and withhold evidence in an effort to get his cases to go his way. Law and Order is set in New York City and follows a two part approach to presenting the criminal justice system. The first half hour is the investigation of a crime and His language and tone are often out of line in and out of the courtroom. apprehension of a suspect. The second half hour focuses on prosecution of the defendant. CONFIDENTIAL Harvey R. Specter Title: Senior Partner at GRADE Pearson Hardman SUITS Considered one of the best "closers" in New York City, Harvey Spector is a skilled lawyer who strongly prefers out of court settlements to trials. He began his career in the New York County District Attorney's Office, but after discovering his boss was suppressing evidence, he left to go into private practice. Not afraid to use coercive persuasion or call in favors, Harvey does whatever it takes to win his cases. Although he may be unconventional, Specter is still a fair lawyer. He never tampers with facts, and hates the lawyers who do. Harvey Reginald Specter (Gabriel Macht) SUITS (2011-Present) Harvey receives a D- for the following reasons: By allowing Mike to practice without a license, he perpetuates a fraud, an offense that would cause Harvey to lose his law license. Suits features Mike Ross and Harvey Specter as two lawyers at a Although he plays fast to get his wins, he demonstrates flashes of ethical behavior, like, refusing to be part of evidence tampering, committing perjury, and waiving the collection of legal fees for his less wealthy clients. high-profile New York corporate law firm. Harvey is one of New York City's top attorneys. He hires Mike as his associate attorney, even though Mike was not a graduate of Harvard Law School (a requirement for all firm lawyers) let alone a graduate of any law school at all. Mike is a college dropout with a photographic memory who impressed Harvey, and the show focuses on Mike and Harvey as they try cases while maintaining Mike's secret. David Rosen Title: Attorney General of the United States GRADE David Rosen is a prosecuting attorney who blackmails his way into becoming the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, this is later appointed as the United States Attorney General for the Grant administration. He is a stickler for the law and seeks truth and justice, treating the Court and all of its officers with respect. He is mostly mild- mannered, but can get terse when he is undermined or when he feels less than ethically pure intentions are at play. As time goes on, it appears that David may be becoming ensnared in the unseemly nature of D.C. politics that are challenging his ethical fortitude. SCANDAL David Rosen (Joshua Malina) SCANDAL (2012-Present) David receives an F for the following reasons: At the start of his career, most of his actions were ethically sound, but as he gains power in the government his ethical nature disappears. Set in Washington D.C., Scandal focuses on the crisis management firm (Pope & Associates) run by Olivia Pope He is known to manipulate relationships in order to obtain information and blackmails for his own personal gain. and the clients of the firm. The firm clients often include White House staff and members of the President Fitzgerald Grant III administration. Olivia Pope and United States Attorney General David Rosen cross paths when Olivia gets involved in cases David prosecutes. Maury Levy ORIGINAL Title: Defense Attorney for the Barksdale GRADE Organization Maury Levy is a skilled defense attorney who was kept on retainer by many drug-trafficking clients. He was a corrupt and unscrupulous attorney who willingly violated ethical rules in an attempt to clear his clients. Levy manipulated the system, fabricated evidence, and coerced others to confess to crimes they did not THEWIRE commit. Maury Levy (Michael Kostroff) Maury receives an F for the following reasons: THE WIRE He regularly coaches his clients to lie under oath and has even helped many of them create fake corporations to hide their assets. (2002-2008) His primary motive lies in his need for gaining wealth and prestige as the "go-to" lawyer for Baltimore drug lords. The Wire was a series that examined the narcotics scene in Baltimore through the eyes of police and lawyers as well as drug kingpins, dealers, and users. Central to the show, as reflected by the title, is the use of electronic surveillance and wiretap technologies by the police. Other facets of the city that are explored are the government and bureaucracy, schools and the news media. CONFIDENTIAL 2CIVILITY Connecting lawyers. Inspiring change. David Rosen Maury Levy Jack McCoy Harvey R. Specter Shirley Schmidt Saul Goodman Allison M. McBeal Alicia Florrick Oliver Babish Eugene Young Sarah Mackenzie Victor Sifuentes

Grading Top Television Lawyers

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The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism created this infographic to accurate grade television lawyers on a number of factors, including ethics, accuracy, professionalism, and much more.

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