Monday, April 2, 2012

Razzle Dazzle- Top Fictional Lawyers

Ahh, my endless and, I hope, soon-to-be-ended, revisions to my novel, Client Relations, have made me examine my protagonist's stakes once again. And her "character arc." How she starts off as in the story, how she changes. I confess, I'm still mired in a quagmire, trying to define her.

So, after another all-nighter (no, they didn't end in college or law school), I stumbled on this fun article in the ABA Journal about the top 25 fictional lawyers of all time (excluding the awesomely righteous Atticus Finch).

I agree with 15 of them (asterisked)....

The ABA's choices are, in this order:

*1. Frank Galvin, "The Verdict"
*2. Paul Biegler, "Anatomy of a Murder"
3. Perry Mason
*4. Professor Kingsfield, "The Paper Chase"
*5. Henry Drummond, "Inherit the Wind"
6. Lawrence Preston, "The Defenders"
7. Jack McCoy, "Law and Order"
8. Rumpole, "Rumpole of the Bailey"
*9. Judge Haywood, "Judgment at Nuremberg"
*10. Sir Wilfred, "Witness for the Prosecution"
11. Alan Shore, "Boston Legal"
*12. Vinny Gambini, "My Cousin Vinny"
13. Lt. Kaffee, "A Few Good Men"
*14. Arnie Becker, "LA Law"
*15. Arthur Kirkland, "And Justice For All"
*16. Hans Rolfe, "Judgment at Nuremberg"
17. Mitchell Stephens, "The Sweet Hereafter"
18. Ally McBeal
*19. Sandy Stern, "Presumed Innocent"
*20. Patty Hewes, "Damages" - YAY,a woman!
*21. Michael Clayton
*22. Jake Brigance, "A Time To Kill"
*23. Rusty Sabich, "Presumed Innocent"
24. Forest Bedford, "I'll Fly Away"
25. Jonathan Wilk, "Compulsion"

My changes?

Delete ten of the ABA picks: Perry Mason (too cardboard-y); Lawrence Preston (who?); Jack McCoy (too annoying); Rumpole (too bleah); Alan Shore (ridiculous); Lt. Kaffee (too wide-eyed); Mitchell Stephens, Forest Bedford and Jonathan Wilk (never heard of them); and Ally McBeal (OMG, seriously?)

I'd add ten other lawyers instead:
Tom Hagen,"The Godfather"(Robert Duvall's character)
Karen Crowder, "Michael Clayton"(Tilda Swinton's character)
Ellen Parsons, "Damages"(Rose Byrne's character
Gene Hackman as Jedediah Ward in "Class Action" and Avery Tolar in "The Firm"
Joe Miller,"Philadelphia" (Denzel Washington's character)
Reggie Love, "The Client"(Susan Sarandon's character)
Benjamin Stone, "Law and Order"(Michael Moriarty's character)
Alicia Florick,"The Good Wife" (Juliana Margulies' character)
Billy Flynn,"Chicago"

Time for more women lawyers...


  1. Sir Wilfred is the best! Sorry, I loved Perry Mason - part of the reason I was so interested in the man I married (now almost 40 years) was when he told me he was a criminal lawyer. My own Perry Mason! I thought.

  2. Sir Wilfred IS great- but soooo many others, too. Denzel, Hackman. Neewman, Duvall....: )

  3. I totally agree with those names. There's nothing like a good lawyer movie or tv show. Don't they drive you crazy, though?

    1. Sometimes they do, Linda! They often stray sooo far from what would ever really happen that it makes me crazy : O !! However, most contain more than a germ of truth, along with high entertainment value. And some of these are so well-written that when their truth factor is higher (e.g., Anatomy or Nuremberg) than would ordinarily be deemed "entertaining" by today's "Fifty Shades of Gray" (UGH) standards, they're still fabulous films.

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  5. Not sure if this list contains movie and TV characters and/or books as well.

    'The Lincoln Lawyer' book and movie, written by Micheal Connelly, excentric MICKEY HALLER (played by Matthew McHauneghy?) is intriguing and very entertaining.

    After a decade of Law & Order and it's spin-offs, it's a refreshing change.

    Rumpole was a fun hour to watch, combining old fashioned British humour and the politics of being a barrister in London.

    Hurray for 'The Good Wife', can't get enough, also like the young male antagonist lawyer, he has great range. (forgot his name?)

  6. Hi Lisa,

    ANYTHING Matthew McConneghy plays is bound to be fun to watch! And Connelly is never dull, I agree with you, too! (I could have sworn I had The Lincoln Lawyer on my list...)

    I was never much of a Rumpole fan - that wry British humor is too inaccessible for me. I know, my loss. : (

    Re: The Good Wife, you may be thinking of Josh Charles, who plays Will Gardner.

  7. Or more likely Matt Czuchry, who plays Cary Agnos?