Law has historically been regarded as a rather prestigious career choice, so, naturally, it is among one of the most in-demand university degrees around the world. Many students also choose to do a law conversion degree after getting an unrelated bachelor’s degree.
Students are inspired to go into law to help people, and change the world for the better. Others like the idea of the challenge that comes with finding loopholes in the law that will help save their client. Some just want to earn the big bucks and the stature that come with the profession, and that’s okay too! For all the blood, sweat and tears poured into years of studying and countless late nights, it’s a well deserved reward.
If you would like to know more about the everyday work life of a lawyer, get insights into the lives and values upheld by different lawyers, learn more about their styles and approaches to take inspiration from, familiarise yourself with key terms and processes within the judicial field, get an understanding of the types of legal dealings that occur on a daily basis and the variety of exciting and devastating cases that are explored in the field- all of it without getting into boring research, but through great TV content, here are some of the best TV shows you could watch. For research purposes, of course. Snuggle up!
Suits focuses on the lives of top-paid lawyers, and the internal political drama that comes with working at a prestigious law firm at New York City. When the show started out, it followed the stories of legendary, hotshot lawyer Harvey Specter and the brilliant college drop-out associate he hires, Mike Ross.
Throughout the show, Harvey and Mike prove to be quite the dynamic duo, closing all sorts of unclosable cases and weaving their way through various, complex and intense legal standoffs set in corporate America, while simultaneously trying to keep Mike’s secret- he never went to law school or had any law-related formal training.
Image Credit: USA Network
The portrayal of Mike in the show goes to show that, in order to excel at a career in the legal profession, text-book knowledge is not the only thing necessary , but a lot of street-smart and common sense also comes into play. Harvey’s work mainly revolves around contract disputes and negotiations, so it might be particularly interesting to students considering commercial and contract law. The show is also quite empowering, with a relatively young, black and female lawyer as the head of a prestigious New York City Law Firm.
Though Suits weighs more towards drama than courtroom, it still provides the viewers with plenty of legal content to sink their teeth into. You will find yourself rewatching this show just out of sheer enjoyment, whether you are in the legal realm or not.
2. The Good Wife
The Good Wife is an exceptional, award winning legal drama with a plethora of political plots. It follows the story of Alicia Florrick as she attempts to navigate the very public mess left behind by her husband, a former state attorney who is imprisoned for a sex and a political corruption scandal.
Image Credit: CBS
The Good Wife stands out from the conventional legal dramas as it utilises plenty of storylines that feature lengthy courtroom dialogue, depicting the various tedious and complex steps of the legal process accurately. The show goes all out when it comes to accurate portrayal of legal matters, taking viewers into the depths of negotiation, plea bargaining and motion dismissals, as opposed to cases going straight to trial, which we are used to seeing on TV.
The Good Wife also takes inspiration from several real life cases and subjects that are up and coming for the future of real law firms. This includes episodes that revolve around marriage equality, bitcoin, gun control, the usage of drones and so on.The show has also received widespread critical acclaim for its insight on how social media and the internet is intertwined in today’s society, politics and law.
For law-students and students with law-related ambitions, the show is must watch as it inspires students to learn what it is like to be a good lawyer, and familiarises them with a lot of the legal processes and jargon. It is very entertaining and represents the excitement, dedication and hard work that goes into a legal career.
3. American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson
In 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman are killed at Nicole’s home in LA, and OJ Simpson, a retired US footballer and Nicole’s ex husband is arrested for double murder. The first season of the American Crime Story follows the infamous “Trial of the Century”, OJ Simpson’s murder trial, which was widely covered by the media and highly publicised.
The show is not a word-for-word recreation of the real events that went down, as it is a TV series made for entertainment, afterall. But, it stays true in terms of the essential truths of the events and the insights into characters.
Image Credit: FX
The show gives the public an insight into what happened behind the scenes and the anger that kept fueling in the Los Angeles society that was so divided by race. Interesting legal issues highlighted in the show apart from muder include issues with evidence and mishandling of evidence, media coverage of trials, racial discrimination presented in court cases, jury trials and the jury selection process in the US.
Arguably, the entire trial depicted in this show is a great example of what should not be done during a prosecution. It provides a lot of material for law enthusiasts to wonder and discuss about how the entire outcome could have changed if the prosecution had done certain things differently.
4. How to Get Away with Murder
How to Get Away with Murder revolves around Annalise Keating, who is a law lecturer at a prestigious Philadelphia University, who along with her five students, gets intertwined in a murder mystery.
The show portrays certain true-to-life elements of law school, such as Annalise herself being a criminal defence attorney and an academic who teaches a class that focuses on advanced trial skills. For law students, it is often good news, knowing that you are taught by experts in the field who have both expert knowledge and are experts in the field with actual real-world applicability.
Image Credit: ABC
However, if comparing the student life of these students to your potential law student life; the likelihood that you will become embroiled in a series of murders as a law student is highly unlikely, so it is safe to say that your law school experience would look quite different.
Another thing about these students is that, despite being embroiled in serious drama, they still do very little work and seem to have a lot of free time on their hands. Do not go into law school expecting this, because this just isn’t the reality of studying law. Law school requires commitment, hard-work and drive. Regardless, the show still introduces some key terms and processes within the judicial field, with some added exhilarating drama.
5. Law & Order
Law & Order paved the way for many other legal dramas out there, including its many spin-offs. It focuses on two premises- both police and legal procedures of the justice systems. Most of the show’s episodes are based on real life cases, but are obviously dramatised for the purpose of TV.
Image Credit: NBC
Law & Order focuses more on the characters’ lives at work, instead of their social or personal, so students aspiring for law-related careers can really get an insight to the daily life of a legal professional and take inspiration from the character’s approaches and styles. It is a good show to watch for students interested in criminal law, as it shows the crime being committed, and every step in between until a final verdict is reached.
Image Credit: ABC
Scandal didn’t make it to the original list because it revolves around the lives of lawyers, who no longer practice law, but are now fixers for high profile people. It involves a lot of politics, shows a fictionalised look into how the government is run, how they protect their own agendas, and has enough storylines about corruption and scandals to keep you hooked for a lifetime!
Image Credit: Netflix
Don’t be too quick to write Daredevil off for being a comic book series. Afterall, Matt Murdock’s day job is being a lawyer, and a masked vigilante with enhanced senses by night. Daredevil solves most of his cases in the dark alleys of Hell’s Kitchen with hand-to-hand combat. So, again, do not go into law expecting your life to look like this (obviously.) The show isn’t much of a legal drama, since it is a superhero show, but it still makes for great television, with deep characters and well-written storylines.
These legal dramas are made for entertainment- they are overly exaggerated and dramatised inorder to keep the story interesting and entertaining. It may not exactly give you an accurate picture of the profession, but it still acts as a thought provoking and helpful guide into the legal world, how it works, and the dynamics of legal firms. Courtroom dramas inspire viewers to question their thinking and to think outside the box and use their gut instinct to wonder and find out about the true story, all of which are some of the many skills required to be a lawyer.
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