Friday, July 29, 2005

 

The Law Firm

Like Jeremy, I watched the Law Firm last night, the new reality t.v. show starring "real lawyers, trying real cases, in front of real judges."

I came in about ten minutes late, but I caught up pretty quickly. I predict the show will be a hit. As I posted before, the concept is the People's Court Meets the Apprentice. Having now seen an episode, I believe it has the qualities of each of those shows that made them hugely popular.

I agree with Jeremy that I can probably learn something from this show. I'm not as optimistic that Roy Black's comments will be particularly helpful, however. His instructions are clearly to blast each candidate about something they did wrong since that makes better t.v. than giving constructive criticism. I think I will learn more from watching the candidates and taking note of their strengths and weaknesses.

The Cases:
The cases chosen for the first episode were quirky enough to be interesting, without being outlandish. They involved legal issues that were easy enough for most lay people to grasp quickly. I imagine the complexity of the cases will increase with each episode. Since most lay people have a pretty sophisticated understanding of legal issues nowadays, this shouldn't be a problem. My one criticism is that neither of the cases was a close call on either the law or the facts, so the lawyers' skills did not determine the outcome.

The Losers:
I felt kind of bad for Jason, who made the fatal error of moving to strike the defendants' inflamatory statement in the three-legged dog case. Since Jason represented the plaintiff, the statement actually helped his case, so moving to strike it showed extremely poor judgment. However, I was just in court yesterday morning where I had to field questions fired at me by an irate judge. I discovered that, no matter how good you may be at legal research and brief writing, it is really hard to think on your feet in a courtroom setting. Of course, afterwards, I thought of a dozen better answers than I gave at the time. My experience made me more sympathetic to Jason's faux pas.

Kelly deserved to be booted. Her opening statement was really bad and she was clearly shaken by the judge's harsh comments (in reality, an arbitrator would probably never interrupt a lawyer's opening statement that many times). Nevertheless, Kelly seemed unprepared and inept - which is a lot worse than committing the occasional verbal misstep.

Other Candidates:
Regina is way too much of a control-freak and is too stressed out. She needs to chill. However, I disagreed with Roy that there was much she could have done to control her client on the stand. That guy was uncontrollable. Chris did a great job with objections and cross-examination in the arbitration. I thought Roy's criticism that he took a back seat was unjustified. However, both he and Deep screwed up by undervaluing their client's case and downplaying the egregiousness of the defendant's conduct. The guy impersonated a police officer and pulled a woman driver over, for God's sake. If that's not egregious, what is? Roy was totally right to slam them for that.

What I learned:
Taking chances and being creative can pay off - bringing the three-legged dog into the courtroom was "brilliant" as Roy Black said. Even the judge let them get away with it.

Winning the case doesn't necessarily win you the esteem of your colleagues. Both the losers were on the winning sides of their cases.

Practice your opening and closing statements before a colleague to reduce the likelihood of getting flustered on the day of trial.


Your Reactions?
I would love to get my readers' feedback on the show or my observations.
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