Posted Aug 01, 2010 09:30 am CDT
RUDY BAYLOR: The Rainmaker
Matt Damon and Francis Ford Coppola deliver John Grisham’s most interesting lawyer as both naive and cynical.
ANDREW BECKETT: Philadelphia
Beckett’s struggles would have meant nothing to us if he weren’t so eloquent about what it means to be a lawyer.
HARVEY BIRDMAN: Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
Who knew a cartoon lawyer could carve a career out of defending other cartoon characters?
AMANDA BONNER: Adam’s Rib
She’s tart. She’s smart. She’s Kate Hepburn. And she shows Spencer Tracy that she’s a helluva lawyer.
JACKIE CHILES: Seinfeld
Actor Phil Morris manages a comic exaggeration of the late Johnnie Cochran, and somehow finds advocacy in the neurotic pratfalls of the Seinfeld crew.
DENNY CRANE: Boston Legal
He’s the end-point of conservative logic and a lit fuse.
EDDIE DODD: True Believer
This James Woods character is a burnt-out case, until he’s persuaded to become involved in a wrongful conviction.
ALICIA FLORRICK: The Good Wife
Alicia returns to law in midlife as an associate with a leg up on others: She’s used to being betrayed.
TOM HAGEN: The Godfather
He’s the family lawyer in every sense of the term.
CLAIR HUXTABLE: The Cosby Show
There are so many other reasons to adore Huxtable that we forget she had a law career.
LT. BARNEY GREENWALD: The Caine Mutiny
Herman Wouk’s Greenwald (Jose Ferrer in the film) finds tension between a sense of honor and a sense of duty to defend two mutineers from the U.S.S. Caine.
OWEN MARSHALL: Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law
Arthur Hill is an earnest and driven defense attorney who works out of Santa Barbara.
BEN MATLOCK: Matlock
Watch out for Andy Griffith’s shuffling country bumpkin in the seersucker suit.
BORIS MAX: Native Son
Richard Wright’s Max tries to lend social perspective to the anger that drives Bigger Thomas to commit murder.
JOE MILLER: Philadelphia
Keeping it simple (“Now, explain it to me like I’m a 4-year-old.”) makes Miller the antidote to law school lawyering.
JOHN MILTON: The Devil’s Advocate
Sure, he’s evil. But he understands that being a lawyer shouldn’t involve self-deception.
KATHRYN MURPHY: The Accused
She’s a prosecutor who overcomes obstacles in a case to find justice for a rape victim.
PORTIA: The Merchant of Venice
Masquerading as Balthazar, Shakespeare’s most memorable lawyer, Portia carves a series of loopholes that utterly defeat the parsimonious Shylock.
NED RACINE: Body Heat
He’s lazy and corrupt—and we like that in a fictional character, but maybe not in a lawyer.
HOWARD ROARK: The Fountainhead
OK, Roark was an architect, not a lawyer; but he represented himself pro se in one of literature’s most provocative political trials.
ADAM SCHIFF: Law & Order
Blunt and acutely aware of circumstance, Schiff endures with a wry variety of wisdom.
ANN TALBOT: Music Box
Jessica Lange is a Chicago lawyer who learns that her beloved father is a Hungarian war criminal.
DOUGLAS WAMBAUGH: Picket Fences
Fyvush Finkel’s feverish small-town lawyer, a kind of Dadaesque Matlock, was endearing, infuriating, dogged and principled in spite of himself.
DAVID WILSON: The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson
Mark Twain’s small-town lawyer overcomes a local notion that he’s a bit backward, revealing that he’s got a few modern tricks up his sleeve.