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Sunday, June 26, 2011

For a Decent Summer Legal Show, Check Out Suits

            Suits, the new USA summer show about a guy passing himself off as a lawyer, had me worried at the beginning. The very first scene was a real lawyer lying to a client to get a deal closed. That’s a huge, disbarrable no-no. The writers redeemed themselves when the characters discussed how interested the Bar would be in that incident. Two characters threatened each other with mutually assured destruction if one reported the other. I was so happy. Maybe I’m easily amused.
            Then they had a sexual harassment case as our hero’s first case, and I cringed. Shows about my area of practice are always the most difficult for me to watch because they get so much wrong. But Suits did a really nice job. Sure, they took some license, but not too much. They got the concept of quid pro quo sexual harassment right. And then they showed what happens far too often in the real world. You see, the Supreme Court says sexual harassment victims have to report the harassment to Human Resources and give them a chance to fix it. If they don’t do it, they lose their right to bring a case.
            Here, the victim reported it. Sure enough, two months later, she was fired for alleged performance problems. Do you have any idea how many times I hear the same story in real life? Try about once a week. Again, I was unduly happy.
            They got big firm life down to a tee – the first year associates being treated like slaves, frowning on them leaving before 9 p.m., the bickering among partners, the competition, and the cutthroat atmosphere.
            I don’t usually comment on the actual writing, but I have to here because I really enjoyed this show. The characters were fun, dialogue snappy and the plot interesting. I’ve said before that I tend to watch all the USA shows, and this will apparently be no exception. Hopefully the writers will keep up the good work.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Franklin & Bash Get the Law (Mostly) Right

            I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll be watching Franklin & Bash on a regular basis. I do try to give the latest legal dramas and comedies a chance, and this one is a rare summer legal comedy. It stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who I remember fondly from the old Saved By the Bell series. He’s all grown up and playing a lawyer along with Breckin Meyer. They are two outlandish ambulance-chasing lawyers who get convinced by senior partner Malcolm McDowell (one of my favorite actors) to come work for a big fancy law firm.

            The first scene showed one of the bad boys of law disobeying a judge’s order. It made me very happy that this landed him in jail (briefly) for contempt. That’s exactly what should happen.

            The big plot line showed a junior partner plotting with a corporate client to throw their employee (also a client) under the bus. They wanted to blame what happened in the lawsuit on their employee so they could skate. Very realistic.

            Of course, I’ve ranted before about lawyers working against clients. Fortunately, our heroes found out about the plot to turn on a client, objected, and then engaged in silly antics to expose the plot and protect the employee-client. They pointed out that the firm had a duty to both clients. That kind of legal-correctness gives me goosebumps.

            The only major part they got wrong was that they also couldn’t turn on the corporate client. The firm had to withdraw from representing both clients and let them get separate representation. But compared to what happens in most legal shows, this one was almost a law school ethics class.

            The reason I don’t know whether I’ll watch regularly is that most of the plot was silly and the characters just aren’t that likeable. I’ll check it out another time or two and see if they can get me hooked.

            For now, I can label Franklin & Bash as (legally speaking) relatively safe for lawyers to watch.