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Has Media Warped the Public’s Perception of Life as a Lawyer?

Arguably one of the biggest attractions of fictional TV shows and films is the element of escapism they offer.

Many popular shows today seek to emulate life in a fictional manner and depict moments that go unseen by the majority of the population. Whether that means a series about the internal workings of a prison, the life of a doctor or the legal world, viewers are fascinated by the idea that they are able to live vicariously, absorbing media that allows them to be part of an alternate life.

Some of the most popular shows and films of our time that take a fictional spin on the legal world are Better Call Saul, Legally Blonde and Suits; all of which showcase different elements of the journey that ‘Lawyers’ embark upon during their careers.

For some, they were what sparked an interest in a career in law. This comes as no surprise seeing as the latter two glamourise this lifestyle immensely to the point where viewers are forgetting these portrayals are far from true to reality.

Does TV and film show an accurate depiction of a Lawyer’s life? Perhaps not

To say that shows such as Suits represent an accurate image of the legal world would be a stretch. One of the main inaccuracies, especially in today’s digital landscape, is that a lot of research depicted in the show is done using books and manuscripts.

Whilst legal research still requires a physical approach to some degree, technology has taken over the legal field – just as it has done in many other professions. As tech becomes more and more advanced it is diminishing the traditional, less effective methods and redefining the legal landscape. Online research databases and digital contracts have replaced their physical counterparts and have successfully increased productivity, optimised work flow and given clients a better service.

Leading law firm Clifford Chance has recently launched its new Tech Academy which provides Lawyers with resources, online training and access to workshops. The result has been a combination of the best legal expertise alongside top-quality technology advancements delivering the highest calibre solutions for clients. This alludes to the idea that digitisation is consuming the legal world, yet popular media does not present this issue.

Another very pressing issue in the legal world which is receiving less traction than deserved is a lack of diversity amongst firms. One of the leading characters in the dramatised show Suits is Jessica Pearson, a Managing Partner in the firm who is widely respected amongst her peers, despite her young age. In reality, whilst we are somewhat seeing the disparity between the way men and women are treated in the legal field reducing, women today are nowhere near close to the 50% mark for Partners.

From 75 firms in the Am Law 200, women only comprise 22% of all Equity Partners. Whilst powerful female partners clearly exist in top firms, the legal world still has a long way to go in terms of equality in partnership between men and women.

Does TV and film show an accurate depiction of a Lawyer’s life? Perhaps yes

The alternative view point in this passage is that popular media does in fact obtain some realistic elements of life as a Lawyer. In leading firms it is inevitable that there will be internal politics. Suits shows a struggle for control over the firm, whilst adding an element of drama, and this is also true to real life. The world of law is becoming increasingly competitive due to the vast number of aspiring Lawyers all aiming to be at the very top of their game.

 

To conclude, whilst popular media showcasing the legal sphere does contain many inaccuracies that actual Lawyers would be quick to dispute, there are elements that successfully unveil life inside a top law firm such as fierce competition and gruelling hours. The missing details from TV and film are to ensure there is no distraction from the entertainment factor this provides for its viewers, and whilst this does provide escapism, it should not be used as a credible resource for the real journey embarked upon by Lawyers in today’s society.

 

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Are you a legal professional looking for to grow your career with a new role? Contact Lucia Milone at lucia.milone@interlinkrecruitment.com for a consultative recruitment experience.

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