There’s an old joke about lawyers. What’s the difference between an accountant and a lawyer? Accountants KNOW they’re boring.
*Endless knee slapping and pants peeing*
It’s a shitty joke, sure, but it poses the absolute truth that all lawyers are super boring. My dad’s a lawyer, and he’s boring. My sister’s in law school to be a lawyer, so she’s not boring yet. But she will be. And the horrible irony about lawyers is that there are no lawyer jokes because they’re all true. I think those are called anti-jokes, which are actually jokes, but that’s a discussion for another time.
The profession is redeemed when it’s portrayed in a show or movie. Entertainment usually does a good job of portraying them, even when the entertainment as a whole is really bad. That’s because being a lawyer is (again, ironically) pretty interesting. The criminal system is a horribly flawed institution, and lawyers are often the masters of the beast – they decide whom it swallows up and spits out.
So, because I am, within the confines of this column, the absolute MASTER of the universe and all entertainment created therein, here’s a list of the most hilarious, sleazy, ridiculous, and all-around memorable lawyer characters.
Here they are, arranged without any hierarchy whatsoever. Because numbers tend to make the Internet an irritable place.
Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill – Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul
Slippin’ Jimmy is the primary inspiration behind this listicle. Breaking Bad is one of my favorite shows of all time, so I highly anticipated returning to Albuquerque for another round of amoral mayhem. Better Call Saul did not disappoint me. It steps away from Bad’s breakneck pace and takes its time to study an interesting character. While Bad is explosive, Saul is definitely going to burn slowly – a style that can often be more rewarding in the end. Saul Goodman was already hilarious as a supporting player, and he’ll be even better now that we’ll see his transformation from Slippin’ Jimmy to Slippery Saul.
Not to mention, the Internet had the HOTTEST buffet of takes about this show when it premiered. There’s one blithely ridiculous take on the pilot’s opening scene that had me smh-ing at work all day. Or just for the 30 seconds it took me to find any gifs on the page, because I’m representative of the lowest common denominator of Internet readers.
Elle Woods – Legally Blonde
Oh, Reese Witherspoon, my resplendent blonde bombshell. How did you end up so lost in an ocean of torts, procedures, and corpus delecti? Thank God you became more successful than those other douchey law students who wore black all the time. Especially that frigid bitch Vivian. She’s so GAUCHE. Also, why the hell would you date Warner? That frosty-haired chode. And Luke Wilson? I’ll never understand that. The right guy was always JOHNNY CASH YOU BITCH HE LOVED YOU SO MUCH.
Fletcher Reede – Liar Liar
That scene is only 30 seconds, but it’s easily the best of the movie because it perfectly encapsulates how scummy Fletcher Reede is. He slickly lies to entire courtrooms. He slickly lies to his co-workers. He slickly lies to his wife. He slickly lies to his son. The guy lies his dick off and carries on his existence with a hysterical sense of glee. Jim Carrey nails this role because I assume he’s similar in real life. He’s energetic and funny, but he’s a comedian, and comedians fabricate stories to be comedic. Dane Cook’s atheist bit never happened. I really just like to pretend Dane Cook never happened.
Vincent “Vinny” Gambini – My Cousin Vinny
The early ‘90s were a great time for Joe Pesci. He had Goodfellas, Home Alone, and JFK. He also had his youth (his YUTE!), which, for a guy who constantly plays mobsters, is around 50 years old. My Cousin Vinny during the peak of that era. I wonder if Pesci almost told the judge to get his fucking shine box before realizing he wasn’t on the set of Goodfellas. I feel like he has those brain farts sometimes. But I don’t question him. As an old comedian once said, I don’t pray to God. I pray to Joe Pesci because “he looks like a guy who can get things done.”
Maurice Levy – The Wire
The briefcase is to the Maurice Levy what the shotgun is to the Omar. Levy is arguably the least sympathetic character on the show, and he earns it by constantly exploiting Baltimore’s worst problems with a shit-eating grin on his face. As with most sleazy lawyers, you hate him because he’s so smart. Levy expertly represents the most dangerous drug dealers in Baltimore because he knows every loophole in the legal system and police department. Avon is sentenced to seven years at the end of the first season and Levy gets his sentence reduced to a year. He’s the most competent, amoral shark of a Jewish attorney I’ve ever seen. Fuck him.
Jake Brigance – A Time to Kill
It’s McConaughey being a legend back in 1996. You know, one of those years before 2014 when no one even considered him a legend yet.
Honorable Mentions: the two dudes from Suits, half of the characters in Big Daddy, the eponymous Franklin & Bash