The question is posed by students, from time to time, and it is intimated even more often: Can I learn anything about being a lawyer from the TV/Lawyer shows? Is it appropriate to act like the lawyers I see on TV?
Frankly, I enjoy certain of these shows, but as my wife will attest, I often grumble, complain and offer commentary throughout the shows. Certainly some of what happens on these shows bears a semblance of reality, but not very often. The reasons?
1. TV ain’t real, dude. It is make believe. And, in my humble opinion, even when we see “Based on a true story,” we ought to be leery of the meaning of the word, “based.”
2. A TV show may last for a half hour, an hour or maybe two, and within that time characters are developed, a crime is committed, the police catch the alleged perpetrator, attorneys bargain and posture, the case goes to trial, a verdict is rendered and all live happily ever after. Whether the matter is criminal or civil, in reality a case may go on for years.
3. TV is entertainment. The legal process, while perhaps entertaining to an attorney, is seldom entertaining to a client.
4. These folks are actors. Judges, attorneys and clients are real people. Act like an actor on TV? Rather, act like an intelligent, decent human being.
So, let’s get fantasy out of our heads. Legal work is WORK. It can be fun, but it is also a serious, demanding, tedious and devastating business, but a job well done will, most of the time, mean the world to the client who may seldom know the extent of the time you have put in. Your sweat! Your angst!
Law school is the very cornerstone of the business of lawyering. Studying and learning the law can be fun and rewarding, but it is still serious, demanding, tedious and devastating business. Discipline yourself now for what is to come. If you do, your life after law school could be most rewarding.
© 2009 Douglas S. Holden. All Rights Reserved.