Law firms in fiction

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Law firms are a common element of fictional depictions of legal practice.[1] In legal drama, generally, they create opportunities to depict lawyers engaged in dramatic interactions that are reflective of the real-world drama of the profession.[2] The portrayal of law firms varies by the media in which they are presented, with law firms in novels and in films (many of which are simply adaptations of the novels) being presented in a negative light, while law firms in television series tending to be presented more positively.[2]

In books and film[edit]

The opposing large law firm is a standard villain in legal thrillers and trial films alike. In 2001, UCLA law professor Michael Asimow wrote:

Because of this perception, law firms are readily represented as places of intrigue and deception, with modern portrayals that "extend from the surreal to the diabolical".[3] Asimow notes that these portrayals have real legal significance because "stories about law, lawyers, or the legal system in film, television, or print" are the vehicle by which "the public learns most of what it thinks it knows about law, lawyers and the legal system".[2]

Although the first film specifically about a law firm, the 1933 film Counsellor at Law, portrays the fictional New York City law firm of Simon & Tedesco as an upstanding practice populated by attorneys who are good-hearted (if occasionally lapsing in their ethical conduct), this type of entity was thereafter typically portrayed on film as a villainous enterprise.[2]

John Grisham, in particular, has displayed a penchant for portraying large firms as evil entities, contrasted against heroic solo practitioners, small firm attorneys, law students, and against their own more ethical young associates.[2]

In television[edit]

Fictional law firms that serve as the backdrop for television shows tend to be portrayed in a more sympathetic light.[2] Asimow wrote that it is "striking how much more favorably law firms are portrayed on dramatic television series than in film".[2] This is reflected in the earliest television series depicting a law firm, The Defenders which revolved around the father and son firm of Preston & Preston.[2] Other sympathetic portrayals are found in L.A. Law, Ally McBeal, and The Practice,[2] and Will & Grace (which is not centered on a law firm, but prominently depicts one in several episodes as a title character's place of employment). Each of these shows depict a mid-size firm, rather than an office of a very large firm, and each depicts attorneys employed by the firm as having very different legal specialties and temperaments.[2] These positive portrayals, however, do not extend to larger firms.

Many television programs having law firms at their core have been written or created by David E. Kelley, himself a Boston University School of Law graduate who had worked for a Boston law firm. Kelley was a writer for L.A. Law, and created Ally McBeal, The Practice, and Boston Legal, and also scripted the film, From the Hip, a legal thriller that centered some ascerbic attention on the machinations of the lead character's law firm.

Fictional law firms[edit]

This list contains notable fictional law firms, being those that exist only as an integral part of a notable work of fiction. They are categorized by the media in which the firm was first introduced.

From books[edit]

From films[edit]

From television shows[edit]

From unknown or miscellaneous sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Terry White, Justice Denoted: The Legal Thriller in American, British, and Continental Courtroom Literature (2003).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Michael Asimow, Embodiment of Evil: Law Firms in the Movies, 48 UCLA L. Rev. 1339 (2001).
  3. ^ Margaret Raymond, On Legalistic Behavior, the Advocacy Privilege, and Why People Hate Lawyers, 55 Buffalo L. Rev. 929 (2007).
  4. ^ van Heugten, Antoinette (September 29, 2010). Saving Max. Mira. pp. Book Jacket. ISBN 978-0-7783-2963-3.