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The reality of law vs. what you see on TV

TV series 2

I may be giving a hint of my age right now, but does anyone remember Perry Mason and Matlock? These were popular television series back in the 1980’s and 90’s. Okay, Perry Mason even dates back to the 60’s. Now that you’ve answered the question about whether you remember these series, will anyone admit to watching them or being a fan? Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I have and still don’t mind watching them because they are entertaining. The attorneys were always three steps ahead of everyone else…and sometimes overly dramatic. But, most of all – they always won the case!

I survived the craze of The Practice. I’ll also admit that I’ve watched a few episodes of Law and Order, but Boston Legal is my favorite of all time. I can watch it anytime. Do you want to know why? Drama and suspense! Every one of these television series has oozed of drama and suspense, amongst other things. They have provided me with entertainment, and for a short period of time: an escape from the “real” world.

The problem with these series is that it’s not an accurate portrayal of real life. I can say with certainty that during my tenure as a paralegal that I haven’t had drama and suspense every day of my working life. Organizing thousands of pages of discovery isn’t sexy, believe me. Unfortunately, I can also state that we didn’t win every single case either.

Lawyers in television shows usually are only working on one case at any given time, and therefore can put all of their time and energy into either prosecuting of defending their client.  I won’t talk about the lack of the paralegal’s presence in legal television shows. That will have to be a topic for a different post. But, in real life lawyers and paralegals are working on multiple cases simultaneously, every task isn’t completed on time with little hassle, and real life co-workers don’t look like they just walked off of a magazine cover. We live in a world of grey, not black and white. Although legal television shows aren’t the mirror image of an average day at a law firm, I’ll still continue to watch them for two reasons: they are entertaining, and they provide a temporary escape from my world allowing me to sit on the edge of my seat to follow a “who done it.”



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