Question of the Week

Which fictional lawyer do you think is most true to life?

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Perry Mason

As television’s Perry Mason, Raymond Burr was a master at compelling testimony. In real life, cross-examination doesn’t tend to lead to confession. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Three novels were named in May as finalists in the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. Each has a lawyer guiding the action. It’s quite a group of protagonists: a Sri Lankan-Canadian immigration attorney, a retired curmudgeon who lectures the neighbor kids on Goss v. Lopez, and a pioneering female practitioner in colonial India.

Many practitioners have their favorite legal characters, from Harper Lee’s own Atticus Finch, to the white-shoe lawyers of Louis Auchincloss, to Erle Stanley Gardner’s stolid solo Perry Mason, to the idealistic champions of John Grisham.

But knowing what lawyers know, sometimes it’s hard to suspend disbelief while following a legal narrative. Could real lawyers get away with the same courtroom maneuvers? How do they always outmaneuver witnesses? Would partners really rally behind the hero, or back-stab so flagrantly? Why aren’t associates doing all the work?

This week, we’d like to ask: Which fictional lawyer do you think is most true to life? Choose your hero from books, stage, screen or video, and tell us which ones ring true.

Answer in the comments on our social media channels via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Journal readers can also choose their favorite in the final round of Harper Lee Prize judging. They can also enter the Journal’s short-story contest, the Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction, which has a June 1 deadline.

Check out last week’s question: What’s your best presentation skills tip?

And view some of last week’s answers from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Featured answer:

Posted by Monica Sandler on LinkedIn:

“Don’t put every word you plan to say on the slide. No one will read any of it.”

Do you have an idea for a future Question of the Week? If so, contact us.

25 Greatest Fictional Lawyers

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