Lessons From Television Portrayals of the Legal System:

Posted by Richard Lawson | Feb 02, 2016 | 0 Comments

In the comedy Better Call Saul, the legal system is portrayed as an endless pursuit of things that do not or should not matter in exchange for a payoff that never seems to come.  Saul Goodman never gets the girl, never gets paid, and never seems to be on the right track.  "Justice" is accidental, at best.

Why does this matter to me?

I admit; I like the show.  There is one scene where Saul is submitting a bill to be paid for three court-appointed clients who were tried together.  His bill ends up being reduced by two-thirds because the cases were handled together.  I remember (un)fondly those days of attempting to survive on court-appointed work and having my bill cut by the county for no apparent reason.


Remember, the comedy of the operating room on MASH did not mean the surgeons found their jobs funny.  When a person is charged with a serious crime, it is no laughing matter.  When the government is trying to deprive someone of their life, liberty, or property, it is a problem that should be taken seriously.   

The government not only has unlimited resources; the State also decides whether to charge a person with a crime in the first place. The decision to charge is the ultimate power.  That is why the legal system is always weighted for the prosecution.  It is ironic that the power to charge is very often vested in young attorneys right out of law school. I was one such attorney 21 years ago. 

Enjoy the Show:

I will continue to enjoy legal comedies and dramas, as I grew up watching Perry Mason.  That being said, remember the entertainment world is not the real world, even in the United States of Entertainment.  

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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