The Top 10 Screen Lawyers

by Maria on June 21, 2012

Today, let’s take a look at Hollywood attorneys. No, not the high-powered entertainment lawyers who populate real-life Tinseltown, but those of the “I’m not one, but I play one on TV (or in a movie)” variety. This column should not be construed as legal advice, or any kind of professional endorsement, since not all of these guys (and they are all guys, sorry ladies; no lawsuits please) are people you’d want representing you. Here’s the countdown:

10. Bob Loblaw

The original attorney for the Bluth family on TV’s Arrested Development was the incomparably incompetent Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler). But as a blogger, I must pass him up in favor of his replacement Bob Loblaw (Winkler’s former Happy Days costar Scott Baio), if for no other reason than his creation of “Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog,” one of this site’s most distinguished competitors.

9. Ben Matlock

The nursing-home favorite himself. Matlock was portrayed for several years on the eponymous TV mystery by Andy Griffith, showing that the revolving-door system is alive and well for small-town sheriffs wanting to enter the legal profession, as long as they change their names first.

8. Harvey Dent

A former district attorney of Gotham City, counselor Dent became the victim of an acid-throwing attack while prosecuting mobster Sal Maroni. With half of his face disfigured, he transformed into a criminal lunatic obsessed with duality and chance. Should you hire him for your case? It’s a coin-flip, really.

7. Fletcher Reede

The protagonist of Liar, Liar experiences an unusual professional setback when his son makes a birthday wish that strips him of his ability to prevaricate. Reede’s whereabouts are currently unknown; he is wanted for questioning in the disappearance of Jim Carrey’s career in the years following the above-mentioned incident.

6. Lt. Daniel Kaffee

The only military lawyer on our list, Lt. Kaffee (Tom Cruise) of A Few Good Men was ahead of his time, being merely the first to naïvely attempt to apply legal or even human-rights standards to goings-on at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

5. Henry Drummond

This one may be cheating a little. While Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy) of Inherit the Wind is a fictional character, he is clearly based on Clarence Darrow, perhaps the most famous real lawyer in American history. Stanley Kramer’s film tells the story of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, and is based on a play still frequently revived today.

4. Lionel Hutz

Making Barry Zuckerkorn look competent and ethical isn’t easy, but Springfield’s resident ambulance chaser on The Simpsons does it with flair. Hutz does have a few successful cases to his credit, including a $100,000 judgment against Krusty the Klown for shards of metal found in Krusty-Os, as well as Homer Simpson’s acquittal under prosecution by Satan. His practice, “I Can’t Believe It’s a Law Firm!” can be found at the mall.

3. Vinny Gambini

The most heroic attorney to come crusading into the Deep South since the days of the Freedom Riders, the thinly-credentialed Gambini shows up to rescue his cousin and two other “youts” falsely accused of murder. My Cousin Vinny, besides being very funny, is renowned for its unusual legal accuracy as well as Marisa Tomei’s Oscar-winning supporting role.

2. Perry Mason

If you’re of a certain age, you probably hear the theme music upon simply reading that name. Mason was played by Raymond Burr on TV for thirty-six years, though the character originated in pulp novels and had previously been portrayed on radio and film. This is the guy you want defending you: an opposing witness is practically guaranteed to snap and confess.

1. Atticus Finch

Who else could be number one? No other character has ever made the bar look like so honorable a profession, or, probably, inspired more people to go into it. The Hollywood adaption of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird celebrated its semicentennial this year, aired on TV with an introduction by another lawyer: the President of the United States.

About the author

Maria Rainier fell in love with blogging before it was cool, and now she’s lucky enough to make a living out of it. She generally writes about subjects related to online education, including universities that offer competitive online associate degrees and online bachelor’s degrees for the 21st century college student. Please share your comments with her!

Maria

Maria

Maria Rainier fell in love with blogging before it was cool, and now she’s lucky enough to make a living out of it. She generally writes about subjects related to online education, including universities that offer competitive online associate degrees and online bachelor’s degrees for the 21st century college student. Please share your comments with her!
Maria

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