As I've explained before, I'm a lawyer-writer-homemaker-crime fighter. You know what is the biggest drawback to being a lawyer? It ruins any t.v. show that takes place in the legal world.
I still watch and enjoy lawyer shows, but I cringe every time the practice of law is depicted inaccurately. And the practice of law is depicted inaccurately CONSTANTLY because the practice of law is pretty freaking boring. The television writers have no choice but to sex things up. Otherwise, dramas about the growth of mold on bread would be more popular.
These are some of the things on legal shows that make me cringe:
- The t.v. judge is always banging the gavel. Sorry, folks, this NEVER happens. You are more likely to see a herd of buffalo stampede through the courtroom than to see the gavel getting any action.
- A case that moves quickly from start to finish. On legal shows like Ally McBeal and Boston Legal, it seems like the Complaint is filed on Monday and the trial takes place on Friday. No no no. Criminal law moves quickly, but civil law is slower than the second coming of Christ. In Los Angeles, several years can elapse between the beginning and ending of a case, and so much boring crap happens during that time.
- On television, it looks like the law mostly involves lots of talking. In reality, the law involves a lot of writing. If a legal drama actually mirrored reality, about 98% of the show would involve a lawyer clacking away at a computer. (The other 2% would consist of coffee and bathroom breaks).
- On television, it's important to strut around the courtroom and wave your arms around emphatically. In reality, if you did something like that, the judge would kick your ass. The lawyer stands in one place, behind a table, and has to ask for permission to approach the bench. When questioning the witness, the lawyer stands far away, behind a podium. The lawyer does not get to pace like a lion before the jury box. The most interesting thing a lawyer might do in court is discretely dislodge a wedgie.
- On television, it looks like the lawyer sweeps into the courtroom at 10 a.m., holding her Starbucks latte, and by 10:01 a.m., she's shouting at the judge. In reality, the lawyer arrives at 8:20 a.m. - no coffee, food or gum allowed. At 9:10 a.m., there is still no sign of the judge. Then when the judge finally takes the bench, there are at least twenty matters on calendar and your case is always the last one to be called. Being a lawyer means spending a lot of time staring at a wall.
Of course, being a lawyer has its interesting moments. Once, while I was waiting for my case to be called, I saw a man named Sir Arthur Conan Doyle present some arguments to the judge. You would think that a man named Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be dressed like Sherlock Holmes with a tweed cape and pipe, but this man was dressed like a cowboy, with a big 10 gallon hat and boots that belonged on a ranch. He was fantastic! But most lawyers are less than fantastic. They are very, very boring and not at all like the characters you see on t.v.