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25 Greatest Fictional Lawyers

By Tanya Roth, Esq. | Last updated on

It is a good time of year to curl up with a book, movie, or just to turn on the tube.

If those forms of entertainment not only chase away the cold, but inspire you in your chosen profession, so much the better.

The ABA Law Journal compiled its list of the top 25 greatest fictional lawyers (who are not Atticus Finch) in August. Whether you are of a generation inspired to go to law school thanks to Atticus, Perry Mason, Jack McCoy, or even Arnie Becker, take a look at the list of good reading and viewing as a break from the weather, a doc review, or finals.

Here is the top ten of the Journal 25 Greatest of all Time:

1. Frank Galvin, The Verdict (Paul Newman)
2. Paul Biegler, Anatomy of a Murder (Jimmy Stewart)
3. Perry Mason, Perry Mason (Raymond Burr)
4. Charles W. Kingsfield Jr., The Paper Chase (John Houseman)
5. Henry Drummond, Inherit the Wind (Spencer Tracy)
6. Lawrence Preston, The Defenders (E.G. Marshall)
7. Jack McCoy, Law & Order (Sam Waterson)
8. Horace Rumpole, Rumpole of the Bailey (Leo McKern)
9. Chief Judge Dan Haywood, Judgment at Nuremberg (Spencer Tracy)
10. Sir Wilfrid Robarts, Witness for the Prosecution (Charles Laughton)

What about the women? Sorry to say that though women might make up 44% of a given law school class these days, they don't crack the top 25 until No. 18, with neurotic ol' Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart, Ally McBeal). Sigh. Patty Hewes (Glenn Close, Damages) comes in at No. 20. And where the heck is Vinnie Gambini (Joe Pesci, My Cousin Vinnie), you might ask? He landed at No. 12.

Have you ever seen a witness crumple like Perry Mason made them do on a weekly basis? Have you ever been let off the hook in class as easily as Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blond) was? No, clearly real life in law is nothing like what we see at the movies, on TV, or read on the new Kindle you will surely be getting for Christmas or Hanukah.

But that's what makes it an escape from the realities of the billable hour. It could inspire you to chase down that case and maybe, for one moment, turn you into Atticus Finch.

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