Our investment in courtroom dramas also led us to believe that we know more about the law. Yes, that’s true on some level. We get to understand more the lives that lawyers lead and the problems that they face every day. We also learned some things about our rights as civilians. We also gained a deeper understanding of the legal issues that people from other walks of life experience.
But courtroom dramas also tend to teach us about some misconceptions about the legal system. Here are some of our expectations that don’t always turn into a reality in the courtroom.
Shows of Temper and Dramatic Speeches Get Results
The most exciting part of a courtroom drama is when the tension is high. There might be lawyers dealing with a murder case that’s been dominating the news. Or there might be lawyers handling cases of bad faith in insurance. No matter the case, we love it when debating slowly (or abruptly–depending on the story) turns into yelling. It reminds us that lawyers are still humans. They might look professional and a bit icy with their flawless suits, ties, and stilettos, they’re still vulnerable to their emotions.
But that’s not always the case. If a lawyer so much as raises their voice in a normal courtroom, the judge might immediately hold them in contempt.
We’ve also seen lawyers in TV shows put the cherry on top of a courtroom showdown by delivering a speech. And this speech is dramatic. It moves people and might even draw tears. Then we see that this speech wins them the case. It gives them a happy ending.
But, again, that doesn’t always happen. The members of the jury don’t just make decisions on the fly after a heartfelt speech. They spend hours carefully deliberating on their decision about the case.
All Lawyers Live Such Exciting Lives
In TV shows, almost all of the lawyers we meet are always handling cases in the courtroom. They’re usually dealing with the most heinous crimes against humanity, such as murder, torture, and rape. If not that, they’re representing Fortune 500 companies with issues that put at stake millions, if not billions, of dollars.
But, no, not all lawyers even step foot inside courtrooms. An example is a transactional lawyer. Their job mainly entails researching, conducting interviews, and writing legal documents. They could do all of these things without even getting up from their desk chairs. Other examples are real estate lawyers. Again, they can settle their cases without even needing to go to court.
Trials are the Ultimate Way of Ending Cases
What’s courtroom drama without a climactic arc before reaching the end of the story, right? More often than not, these stories’ climactic arc is the trials that determine the end of the case.
But, contrary to popular belief, trials aren’t necessary to put a case to bed. In fact, it’s not even the most popular way. The New York Times reported that 80 to 92 percent of legal cases are settled without ever going to court. Experts have even reported that settling instead of going to trial is ideal for ending a case. It leaves no room for risks. And it makes sure that the victim would gain something, even if it’s monetary.
Becoming a Partner in a Top Law Firm Means You’re a Better Lawyer
“I’ll get my name on the door.” We’ve heard this phrase, or variations of it, in dramas. It pertains to becoming a name partner. It’s an esteemed position that gives lawyers a certain level of prominence. It’s a sign that they’ve achieved a lot in their career to reach this point.
But we don’t usually see in courtroom dramas the business aspect of being a lawyer. That’s right; it’s not always about winning cases for the greater good. In fact, some firms even require lawyers to buy their way into becoming a partner. This buy-in makes them shareholders of the firm. Becoming a partner also requires a lot of networking. Lawyers have to get into the good side of the right people to achieve their goals in the firm.
We can’t really deny the appeal of courtroom dramas. Because we live such mundane lives, we tend to crave drama and exhilaration. Courtroom dramas bring us that. They show us real-life scenarios that we ourselves could experience. They show us the thrill of high-stakes problems. If one thing goes wrong, people could go to prison for the rest of their lives. And if the stakes are really high, they could end up on death row. We become invested in such stories.
But it’s important to remind ourselves of the difference between fiction and reality. We have to remember that what we see in courtroom dramas don’t always occur in real courtrooms.
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