Posted Aug 01, 2010 10:00 am CDT
From Dick the Butcher’s famous pronouncement to Jack Cade in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 2—“First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”—through Dickens’ Mr. Tulkinghorn and Galsworthy’s Soames Forsyte, literature (with a few exceptions) treated lawyers poorly.
That all changed with Harper Lee’s unflappable, unforgettable Atticus Finch. With Atticus, the lawyer—once the criminal mouthpiece, the country club charlatan, the ambulance-chasing buffoon—was now an instrument of truth, an advocate of justice, the epitome of reason.
Finch was comfortable in his own skin and reasonably respectful of the frailties in others. To lawyers, he was the lawyer they wanted to be. To nonlawyers, he fostered the desire to become one.
So for this, and other reasons (See “Farewell, Atticus”), we’ve withdrawn Atticus Finch from this particular literary comparison, allowing our panel of experts to rank their favorite fictional lawyers without the heavy lifting required by a demigod.
So here are our panel’s choices for the 25 greatest fictional lawyers (none of whom are named you-know-who).